When a Man and Woman Say Yes

Three generations of O'Connors

It is a warm late-summer afternoon in London, Ontario.  60 people gather in a small chapel at Brescia College on the campus of the University of Western Ontario to celebrate a Mass in honour of the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Dennis and Margaret O’Connor, my parents.

My Uncle Gerald, a Basilian Roman Catholic Priest, presides over the Mass.  He finishes his humour-laced homily and invites my mother and father to come forward.    I look at my older brother Tim, who smiles with joy.  Beside him is Sandy, his lovely wife.  To her right are my mischievous nephews Corey and Sean.    To my right, my sister Kathleen, from Canmore, Alberta, bears a smile that will turn to joyful weeping with the slightest encouragement.  Her 3 daughters, Kylie, Emily, and Siobhan, athletic romantics all all three, are beside her.

Behind Kathleen is my lovely sister Peggy, her Harley-obsessed husband, Bruno, and their charming daughters, Josee and Marie.  My brother Sean, a good man and accomplished high school teacher in the tradition of Uncle Gerald is here from Vancouver.

A loving tension suffuses the old chapel.  A large wooden crucifix hangs over  the place where my mother and father, now in their late 70′s, grey haired and all, stand, adding to the mystic of what is about to happen.   Fr. Gerald cracks a joke and gets us laughing, his voice playful and full of joy for his older sister, my mother and his brother-in-law, my father.

He turns to my mother and father and begins the exchange of vows. In an instant, we are are witness in spirit to two young lovers in 1955 taking their vows at St. Basil’s Church in Toronto.   It is time warp glimpse backwards before my brothers, sisters, and I, my nieces, nephews, my cousins too, even existed.

My mother, not known for public displays of emotions, wilts under the drama and breaks into tears. My father, sentimental Irish Canadian that he is, joins her, laughing with squinty tear-filled eyes and broad smile.   Who knew all that would happen because Dennis James O’Connor of Belleville, Ontario and Catherine Margaret Lalonde of Capreol, Ontario said yes to each other 50 years ago?

The vows exchanged, the Mass finished, we gather outside in the sunshine like we have for the weddings of brother, sisters, cousins, and friends.  At Sunningdale Golf Club speech makers swallow lumps in throats.  Grandchildren offer tributes of genuine honesty in the shy and innocent way of children who love their grandparents.   Long-time friends bear witness to my parents love and devotion over the years – and to their epic parties.

The result of a man and a woman, agreeing to love each other in good times and bad, is manifested in the existence of family and friends that day.   My parent’s marriage, produced sons and daughters, and from them grandchildren; it’s is the ongoing process of  life generating life, from generation to generation.  This day is a celebration of the essence of marriage.   It is a very good thing and deserves to be held in highest esteem.

  • Erin

    Hi Patrick! What a heart warming story and such a beautiful testament to life long love! Just awesome!

    • http://www.masculinejourney.ca Patrick O’Connor

      Why thank you Erin. I’m proud of my parents and of my whole family. So nice to see you here!

  • Charleen Rouleau

    What a beautiful story! I must say very well written too. I can tell u do indeed do a lot of writing. It shows.

    Have an awesome day Patrick!
    Char

  • Tim

    Thanks for sweetly and eloquently documenting a wonderful day for our family.
    u da writer!

    • http://www.masculinejourney.ca Patrick O’Connor

      Thanks Brother! It was a great day!

  • http://Www.sacredsharingsforthesoul.blogspot.com Celeste

    Patrick this is beautiful, an emotionally fused and beautiful use of your writing gift! Thank you for allowing us to peer into this moment of love, recognizing the many moments that were manifested in order to arrive at this point! May God continue to bless your parents, and also the vocation of marriage!!

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