Bailey asked for permission to marry Jasmine. There was no hesitation as I replied with a ‘Yes’, and I offered my home for an engagement party. The engaged couple organised the whole party, and their timing was perfect. We welcomed over a hundred guests, a few weeks before the COVID-19 restrictions commenced in March.
Planning a wedding during the Coronavirus
Planning a wedding during 2020 must have required prayer, hope and good luck. Leading up to the mid-October wedding date, the Coronavirus was causing havoc with plans for the entire world. The South Australian government placed restrictions on weddings. It included the number of guests, and there were too many invitees. Besides, guests could not stand while eating/drinking, and no dancing was allowed. A few weeks before the wedding, the restrictions changed, and the entire wedding plan could go ahead.
The Wedding practice
We arrived at La Grange Estate on a Friday for a wedding practice. A lovely location in the Adelaide Hills. Jasmine and Bailey are to be married in a paddock, and the bride and bridesmaids walk around 300 metres. I sat in my manual wheelchair at the half-way point and watched the four bridesmaids walked past me. My son Ben escorted Jasmine to me, and he pushed my manual chair to Bailey. One of my hands held tightly to my knee to assist with my balance, and the other held Jasmine’s hand. It seemed fitting the ‘three of us’ walk down the aisle together.
As we prepared for the second practice, I finally realised that my daughter was to be married on Saturday. There was a disconnect between the facts and my reality. It didn’t feel as if Jasmine was getting married, as I wasn’t involved in the planning. My eyes did something strange. Tears flowed down my face, and I sat there alone. As the bridesmaids went by, I put my sunglasses on and placed my hoodie over my head. Real men don’t cry. Jasmine noticed, and she seemed pleased, and I already knew I had no chance of understanding how women think. The tears kept flowing, and I couldn’t wipe them, as it was a bumpy ride.
The Wedding ceremony
On the wedding day, I put on my suit, white shirt, new pink tie and shiny pointed shoes. I looked like a wealthy businessman who owned a horse on Melbourne cup day. I pushed myself to the half-way point and welcomed wedding guests as they walked by. Tim, our church pastor, asked people to turn off their mobile phones, and the music changed. I repeated two words in my head – ‘Don’t cry’.
The four bridesmaids walked by and arrived safely without getting their high heels stuck in the ground. I heard Jasmine and Ben talking to each other. What a beautiful bride! We joked about random topics, had big smiles and laughed. Ben pushed me towards the hundred or so people, including Bailey. I’ve had over eleven years of people staring at me in my wheelchair. But no one was looking at me. Jasmine was eager and moved slightly ahead of me, and I asked Ben to push faster. We arrived, exchanged a kiss, and there was no crying. Bailey and Jasmine were married.
The Wedding reception
After swapping into my powered wheelchair, it was easier to get around. I could raise myself higher for the photos and the reception. Bailey’s dad, myself and best man Eddie shared our speeches. Without knowing each other’s speeches, they turned into a stand-up comedy competition. The wedding and reception was a happy time.
‘When Jasmine first asked me to walk her down the aisle, I said no. I can’t walk Jasmine; I will roll you down the aisle.’
‘It’s not that I’m losing a daughter, I am gaining a bedroom. Ben is not losing a sister. He is gaining a garage to park his car.’
‘Life with Jasmine can be unpredictable. Such as when I woke up to find a trampoline in my kitchen. Jasmine and Carley jumped and slept on it.’
‘Jasmine and Bailey. Congratulations on your marriage. I wish you all the best and many happy years ahead of you. Always do your best for each other and your children. Love you both.’
Madie, Dad and I left the party early, as we all had valid reasons to get to bed. My pain levels were rising, and I took 10mg of morphine. The drive back from the hills took over an hour, and I focused on the task at hand. I crashed into bed.
It was a fantastic day.