Sharon says ‘I do’
By Kathleen Teillet
When I first met Sharon, she had been married to Chris for five years,
in fact had followed him to Alberta when his job took him west.
A large photo showing Sharon looking the way all brides
are supposed to look — radiant, joyful, glowing, beautiful — hung
on their bedroom wall. It had been taken as they came down the aisle
after the ceremony.
But Sharon told me he had badly wanted to be married by
a priest. She’d
been stubborn. She’d wanted to take her vows in the same United
Church of Canada that her family had attended since the denomination
was established in 1925, the church where she’d gone to Sunday
School and played the organ.
Chris loved her, so he did as she wished.
I didn’t hear much about religious observance from Sharon although she clearly had a strong faith and talked about God naturally and often.
She’s a sensitive, caring, empathetic person — the kind whose
eyes mist over at a beautiful sunset or the sight of alpenglow on the
mountains, the kind of woman who cries if you hurt her feelings (or anybody
else’s for that matter).
Then Sharon got pregnant.
No one has ever been more excited and happy with pregnancy
than Sharon. Her skin glowed. She wore a constantly hovering smile. She
would caress her stomach as she talked. And she’d sit in her big
wooden rocking chair playing the guitar and singing to her unborn child.
And while all this went on, she began to think of Chris.
He’d wanted so much to be married in his own faith that she knew
he would want equally as much to raise their child a Catholic. He didn’t
tell her that. He didn’t have to.
Chris didn’t go to church much anymore and she knew it was because
of their marriage and the limbo it had left him in faith-wise. He didn’t
talk about Catholicism either, probably, she decided, because he thought
she wouldn’t understand. He never once said a word about having
the baby baptized by a priest.
Sharon allowed herself to admit that Chris was suffering. Then, because
she was Sharon, she suffered too while she wrestled with the problem
of what to do.
Finally, when she was about five months pregnant, Sharon announced that
she and Chris would be married all over again, this time in his church.
She hadn’t reckoned on the Roman Catholic Church.
“Would you believe,” she asked, astonishment in her lovely
eyes, “that the priest won’t marry us until I take instruction?”
I believed it.
“He said I need to understand what Chris believes.”
“And then we have to take a marriage preparation
Even I was taken aback by this, and I’ve been a Catholic
all my life. Clearly, this priest was determined to treat this marriage
as a first-time event for both of them. I had to laugh. Sharon laughed
too, but not as sincerely as I.
Then, undaunted by delay, she threw herself into Catholicism and marriage
By the time they were ready to make their vows, Sharon
was eight months pregnant. This didn’t faze her in the least. She
went about planning the wedding with all the enthusiasm of any bride.
She reserved a private dining room for the reception and invited their
relatives, all of whom were in Ontario.
“No thanks,” Sharon’s family said. “We
were at your first wedding and it seemed like a perfectly good ceremony
Sharon didn’t mind. She sort of felt that way herself.
Chris’s family came. No doubt, she told me, they were thankful
that she was finally making an honest man of him. And Sharon’s
Alberta friends and co-workers were overjoyed to attend.
The bride wore blue — a demure maternity creation
with a yoke and elbow-length sleeves. No one had ever looked more pregnant
than Sharon. Or more sure of herself and serene.
There came a point in the ceremony when the priest asked, “Do
you agree to accept any children God sends you?”
Before she could answer, he remarked with a broad grin, “I
guess we all know the answer to that one.”
The wedding guests burst into delighted laughter and then began to clap.
The priest hugged them both.
You know, it was the most committed, the most joyful, the
most enjoyable wedding I’ve ever attended.
*Afterword: When that first baby, a girl named Christina, started school, Sharon converted to Catholicism.
Teillet is a freelance writer who lives in Winnipeg.