1980: A New Year’s Eve to remember
By Linda Crabtree, The Standard
Friday, December 30, 2016 7:26:44 EST PM
Graydon Book and I met in 1977 through a personals ad I put in The Standard, where I worked. I was divorced and he was a bachelor.
We got to know each other over a period of three years, and I eventually suggested we marry as it seemed as if he was never going to get around to asking.
We settled on a spring 1981 date until he, ever frugal, suggested we tie the knot before year-end as the tax rules then allowed us to claim the other as a dependant. The justice of the peace, Don Swift, was available on New Year’s Eve. His office was on the second floor of the Church Street police station.
Dec. 31 began with wedding nerves, but we both soon settled down. I dressed in a soft grey ensemble that included a silk blouse, wool slacks and velvet jacket. Graydon was handsome all in browns. He was 43, I was 38 with a progressive neuromuscular syndrome, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) that was slowly taking away my ability to walk.
There had been an ice storm the night before and the parking lot of the LCBO where we stopped to buy wine was like a skating rink. I stayed in the car.
The next stop was at the studio of a photographer I knew from the paper for a formal wedding picture. My pink rosebud corsage and Graydon’s boutonniere were gifts from people I knew from the paper.
Around 2:30 in the afternoon, Grace, Graydon’s 79-year-old mother, who lived kitty-corner from the police station, and Graydon held me up as we slipped and slid down the street and up the ice-covered steps to our appointed destination.
Inside, we asked directions to the office of the justice of the peace and were told it had closed at noon.
Disheartened, I asked her to call up — and he answered the phone. He had let his staff go at noon.
“Take the elevator up,” she said, “and don’t go down, that’s where the cells are.”
We all watched as Graydon pushed the ‘up’ button.
My mother and my sister, Kathie, arrived and within 20 minutes we had paid our $15, were married, had signed the register and were on our way back to the ice-covered streets.
I had arranged a dinner at our favourite Italian restaurant but was told it had to be early because they were totally booked for New Year’s Eve. I reserved for 5 p.m.
Crab legs, shrimp marinara and lasagna all disappeared quickly and our wedding cake was a double-layer chocolate with green and white icing Kathie had managed to smuggle in.
Grace excused herself to the ladies’ room and didn’t return. My mother went in after her. Grace was feeling nauseous — she’d never had shrimp before — and mom said she thought it had all been too much for her.
Graydon paid the $114 bill, we all packed up, and just as we were out the door mom and Kathie showered us with two bags of white confetti.
After delivering mothers, we went home, watched a bit of TV, kissed good night and, exhausted, fell asleep.
The entire wedding cost us something like $185 and yes, we claimed each other as a dependant from our income tax and both got the deduction.
This New Year’s Eve, we’ll celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary quietly.
It hasn’t all been easy for either of us. I can no longer walk and my hands are extremely weak. Graydon now uses his middle name, Ron. Throughout the years we’ve changed and grown. He is what you might call a domestic god — responsible for everything in our everyday lives, and he also looks after me. I write, and am an advocate for people with disabilities.
Ours is not an ordinary marriage, but we have made it this far and every New Year’s Eve is special because it marks another year we’ve had together and our hope that we’ll have more. And we’re still frugal.
Happy New Year everyone!
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