My grandparent’s wedding picture, though this is not their story. I am posting an extra story today as an early Christmas gift.
The situation Joe had most dreaded had come to a head at Anya’s most vulnerable time. Making a run for it with two little ones and a newborn would be futile. He’d just have to face this situation straight on. No one was going to hurt Anya and rip his family apart after they’d struggled so hard to be together.
Seeing Anya’s joy in Rose Anya was bittersweet, knowing what he’d have to tell her, but he could let her have this day unmarred. Emma had left a pot of soup bubbling on the hearth. Joe decided to do nothing but necessary chores and store up the joy of this day. When Anya wasn’t holding Rose Anya, he was. The little ones played happily in the warmth of family.
Joe didn’t allow himself to think of the preacher and sheriff’s impending visit. The sheriff didn’t wait a few days, just showed up with the preacher the next morning, probably to avoid the problem of having to pursue them. Joe greeted them gruffly. The sheriff was a definite threat, and Joe had never known kindness, only judgment from church folk.
“I know why you are here. I ain’t gonna let you make trouble for us. My wife just gave birth to an early baby and she ain’t strong
“We need to talk to her. I just need the preacher to say if she’s the same woman you married. We won’t take much of your time.” The sheriff stood his ground.
The preacher rocked back and forth with his hands clasped behind him. “Lord knows we hate to bother you, but the sheriff says this has got to be done. I’d be obliged if we could get it over with so I can get back to town. I got a couple that wants marrying.”
Grudgingly, Joe showed them in. “Anya, this here is the sheriff and the preacher what married us. I know you remember him, even though you was so sick.”
Anya’s eyes widened in fear, taking the situation in. “Why shore I do. A woman don’t fergit her weddin’. Welcome preacher. I cain’t git up cause I’m nursing my baby. She’s a mite early an’ I don’t want to jostle her. She ain’t strong an’ needs to nurse.”
“Why shore, Ma’am. Good to see you again. That baby is a tiny little thing. I wouldn’t want to unsettle her. It’s good to see things working out so good for you.” Anya took heart from his kind words.
The sheriff took his cue. “Ma’am, I’m sorry I had to bother you, but I needed to git the preacher to identify you. I am glad ever’thing worked out so good. Joe, you take care of this fine woman an’ that purty, little baby. I got to be going.”
“Sheriff, if you can wait a few minutes, this little one needs christening. It’s a long trip to town an’ I can git the job done as long as I’m here,” the preacher addressed the sheriff.
“Why shore. I’ll just wait outside.” He left them alone.
The preacher faced Joe and Anya. “I don’t know how I done it, but I realized after y’all left that night I never gave you a certificate. I’d like to marry you again an’ make sure ever’thing’s right before I christen that baby if that’s alright with you. I disremember the date, but you can help with that. Then we can git that little feller taken care of. The Lord wouldn’t want me to leave a job half-done.”
A giant load was lifted off Joe’s heart.