Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 19
Standing in the middle of the room, I hollered, “People, people, my loves, my doves, my turtle doves.”
“Annalisa no tears, okay,” exclaimed Janay, a friend and former member of Laybrook Presbyterian Church Dance Ministry.
“No. No tears today,” I responded cheerfully.
“But Anna you’ve actually gained weight,” Allera, another friend chuckled.
“Yes, but I plan to work it off,” I responded, dancing around.
Spontaneous outburst of laughter filled the air and someone shouted, “Go on girl.”
“Oh yes, that’s the plan.” I smiled at them. “Everyone, this is Aunt Joy, Orane’s mother.”
Several hellos greeted Aunt Joy who smiled and nodded.
“Annalisa, come here!” Melissa called out. She was holding a hot pink sash with the word ‘bride’ written in black.
I beamed. “That’s for me?”
“Yes!” Melissa responded jubilantly.
Amidst fanfare, she draped the sash across my shoulder then led me to the “bridal” chair.
“Anna your hair is still neat,” Allera said, as I used my hands to smooth my hair.
I smiled sheepishly at her.
“Everything is in place,” she whispered confidentially, before saying in a loud voice, “Good evening ladies! Welcome to Annalisa’s bridal shower! Let’s take a few minutes to recognize the very special bride, Annalisa.”
I smiled and bowed as applause erupted around the room which was fabulously decorated in red, gold and white. All bells and whistles were on display. Great job Nichelle! While Harriet was dealing with the crisis at her school, Nichelle, Harriett’s daughter took over the preparations for my bridal shower.
At Allera’s bidding, we each selected a bible character and gave reasons for the selection. I chose Esther, a woman of faith, courage, love and devotion. Esther operated in her season and became an instrument that God used to prevent the destruction of her people.
Next, Anaya and I were blindfolded to play “Pin the leaf” on Adam, a job we completed successfully, amidst squealing noises from the ladies.
“Question time!” Allera yelled, grinning mischievously.
“Anna be careful, they will hold your answers against you,” Janay begged dramatically.
“Anna,” Allera smiled at me, ignoring Janay, “A little birdie asked Orane these questions and got the answers.”
“Plead the fifth,” someone hollered and giggles broke out in the room.
“I can do this,” I declared grinning. “Shoot”.
“Now ladies, Annalisa is answering these questions about Orane but you are to answer them about her,” Allera informed the group. “Whosoever gets the highest score will receive a gift.”
Murmurs of okay echoed around the room.
“Write all your answers to the questions then we will discuss them,” Allera said, when we were all armed with sheets of paper and pencils. “Here we go! What is his favorite color?…Who is his favorite girl?…Name his favorite musical instrument…Name his favorite song.”
“Annalisa don’t commit yourself. Be careful,” Arianna shouted, to everyone’s amusement.
“Annalisa it’s okay!” Alaine yelled. “We won’t tell.”
“Ladies, ladies!” Allera cautioned playfully. “What is his favorite bible verse?…What is his favorite juice?…What is his favorite cologne?…Name his favorite bible character.”
In the end, Janay won the round with answers regarding me and received her gift enthusiastically. The ladies were quite tickled that I knew all the answer to the questions about Orane.
“Ladies,” I declared spiritedly, “the moral of this little game is, you are to know your man.”
Spontaneous laughter erupted and I found myself grinning at my own bit of melodrama.
“Let’s eat,” Allera said smiling. She blessed the food and we were treated to baked chicken, an assortment of sandwiches and salads, fruits, pastries and cold beverages. While we ate, I chatted with the ladies, some of whom I had not seen in years.
Creative juices flowed when we resumed and Allera divided the ladies into two teams. Each team dressed their selected bride using white tissue paper and tulle, then I carefully determined the winner.
“It’s time for gifts,” Allera declared. Her eyes stretched to their limit.
“Ladies,” I said smiling. “Thank you so much for the spa treatment and the mani and pedi.”
“You’re welcome,” they responded in unison.
“We still have more gifts for you,” Allera said, handing me a gift bag.
It was from Bella. “I am afraid,” I said, covering my eyes. “I will just take this home.”
“Noooooo,” they shouted animatedly.
Screams of delight echoed around the room as I pulled out a private party kit and short sheer pink lingerie with pink fur at the neckline.
“Fire,” someone shouted.
“Anna, that’s like floss,” Arianna yelled.
“Now, don’t come knocking,” Janay shouted as I held up the matching pink fur stiletto heels.
I opened several other gifts while the ladies hollered ohhhs and ahhhs along the way. After laughter subsided, Allera was back on the job.
“For being such a wonderful bride, we have an extra present for you.” She handed me a large package.
“What is this?” I beamed, peeling away the red wrapping paper to reveal a beautiful gold framed canvas photo of Orane and me. “Oh my word!” I screamed, hugging the photo over and over again before showing it to the ladies.
“Awww!” they responded at different levels.
“It’s beautiful,” I said, gazing at the photo with love. “Melissa, I know that you are responsible for this. Thank you.”
Melissa smiled and mouthed, “You’re welcome.”
Naturally, I refused to let the photo out of my sight.
Just a few minutes later, advice came:
Always be happy
Never let the sun go down on your wrath
Always be tactful, the male ego is very fragile
Never lose his trust
Get to know your husband, do things that will uplift him.
Always smile, it makes a difference
Always be honest with your husband
Do not try to have the last word
Always be the bride he married
Never say I am done or I quit
Always give thanks in everything
Never make decisions when angry
Never say I am frustrated
Never stay hungry in the name of love
Show appreciation always
Never “close shop”
Always hug and kiss your husband goodnight and goodbye
Always write love notes for your man
Never go to bed angry
Never take gossip about your partner
Always be honest about how you feel
Stay in love
Make time for each other
Never bring up things already addressed in the past
Always be your husband’s girlfriend.
Keep looking hot
When you are upset, never say things you don’t mean
Never use the retirement money
Always have fun
“Speech! Speech!” the ladies chanted.
“Sing instead Annalisa, sing!” Janay shouted and everyone laughed.
“No. I’ll sing at the wedding,” I joked. “Thank you so much guys. I really appreciate this. This is my third bridal shower!” I beamed, clapping my hands.
“Your third bridal shower?” Janay exclaimed.
“Can you believe it?” Melissa said, bringing laughter to the room.
Smiling I continued, “Everywhere I go, I leave with bags. Everybody is so excited. It’s like, oh yeah, finally, let’s get it done quickly.”
The ladies laughed at my dramat
“Thank you so much. Most of you have been with me forever. You have seen the trials, the temptations, the ins and outs, the struggles and the mountain tops. Most of you know that marriage is something I have been praying about, on and off for years. I did not want to get married just to wear a ring. Seriously, I didn’t! I wanted to marry somebody who I could love, somebody who I could be myself with, somebody who I could pray with and somebody who would support me emotionally.”
The ladies were all ears!
“Proverbs 31 talks about a virtuous woman buying assets and attending to her household. She’s just a beautiful woman, wearing fine linen and so on. Her husband praises her. He told her, many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Then, the bible states that her children would rise up and call her blessed. One day, after reading this scripture, I said, ‘God that’s the only part of the scripture that has not been fulfilled in my life and I’m looking forward to it’.
Nevertheless, whether married or single, I would be okay. It’s not that I feel that marriage would complete me. I think that marriage is something that God desires for me at this time. I know that with Orane, I am not coming off the path. You and I have been in relationships where we have struggled to keep on the path because we tried to pull the other person along. With Orane, it was a natural flow. He came along and we just kept moving on the same path. I really love that.”
Murmurs of agreement came from the ladies, followed by girlish giggles.
“I like him a lot and I also love him,” I said smiling. “We chat and have fun together. He allows me to be me. I can be playful at times but he knows when I get serious.”
I rolled my eyes and an avalanche of giggles erupted from the group, before I continued.
“For instance, I may say, ‘the world is a bad place today’ and he understands what I mean. He’s a really good guy and he appreciates me. The best part is that Orane is a praying man.” I beamed. “I love it, love it, love it. In fact, I hate to say this, but he’s the one that’s always saying, let us pray or let’s have devotion. He believes in prayer; he really does.”
Silence descended on the room as we paused to digest this.
It was a defining moment.
“Annalisa, I appreciate you,” Mrs. Sallue, an older friend and prayer warrior interjected. “I know this is genuine because I feel it in my spirit. Your marriage is something that we are happy about. Be encouraged because we are encouraged by your testimony.”
Strong murmurs of yes, echoed around the room.
“I am never alone,” I declared. “I have a family with lots of sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews plus tons of friends who really care.”
Agreement came from the group, “Yes, love and care!”
“I do not pressure myself,” I said smiling. “I wanted a ring,” I extended my left hand, “but, it had to be from someone special. I wanted a male figure in my life who would impact my life in a positive way; someone who I could help to grow and fulfill his God-given purpose. We will have goals as a couple but we will also have individual goals. So, I feel this relationship is a blessing.”
“Yes, yes,” they murmured.
I smiled and continued, “Everything happened very quickly. But, I’ve always felt that God would move quickly when the time was right. I know Orane enough. I do not know him one hundred percent because that’s an ongoing process and he is evolving. But, I know that he has a kind heart and I always wanted that.” I broke out in giggles then declared, “It’s NOT about the money.”
Pockets of snickering and chuckles broke out in the room.
I playfully batted a hand. “He has a gentle spirit. His mind… oh, he has a beautiful mind. I love his mind. He has the regular perspective but he’s always coming from another angle and I’m just, ah …”
“He keeps you on your feet,” Melissa filled in.
“Yes,” I grinned. “He keeps me alert and makes me think. Sometimes, he will ask questions just to hear my thoughts. He desires a helpmate so we will make decisions together. I really love that.”
“And if you hear from him,” Mrs. Sallue said quietly, “he will say the same.”
“I know.” I beamed shamelessly. “I heard him talk to Reverend Fuller about me and I was so blessed. It was beautiful.” I paused then informed them. “We quarrel sometimes. Yes, we do.”
The ladies were in agreement.
I eyed them sheepishly. “The first time we pretended to quarrel.”
Uncontrollable laughter broke out and I could not help but laugh too.
“To be honest, Orane and I cannot be annoyed with each other for too long because we are very good friends. Our first quarrel was about devotion. He felt that I was stronger when he first met me. You know, the cares of life happened, so I kind of slipped off the straight and narrow road. He desires a strong Christian woman, that’s first and foremost so he wants me to maintain my Godly spirit and spirituality. It’s NOT about the body,” I gave them my model pose, “or the looks.” I exhaled, cupping my face.
Hysterical laughter exploded around the room and someone shouted, “Anna, behave yourself.”
I smiled pleasantly at them. “Orane and I are growing and we are learning about each other, day by day and we have so much help. You guys are so awesome. I thank God for the support of my family and friends. Let’s talk about my sisters. They are all different so they fulfill different roles in my life.”
“You always say that Annalisa,” Janay hollered and I snickered.
“Sister Bella will tell me about the sweet little things, the little to-to-too,” I touched my lingerie bag, “and the guys. Sister Maydine plays the mothering role and Sister Harri just keeps me on the path. And, all you guys have been just wonderful. Thank you!” I clapped my hands enthusiastically and they smiled at me.
“Annalisa, show them what you did in the store,” Bella called out, doubling over with laugher.
“Share it,” the ladies exclaimed, their eyes pleaded with me.
I laughed then innocently explained. “I heard a gospel song playing in a store, while we were searching for a gown for Aunt Joy and I started to dance. I wanted to worship. It was just beautiful.”
Howls of laughter broke and Bella hollered, “Just show us a little piece of the dance.”
“Annalisa, what if there were cameras in the store?” Janay asked, with laugher in her voice.
“Oops!” I responded grinning. “I just danced.”
Bella chuckled. “I laughed so hard in the store. The people in the store just stopped and were like…in disbelief.”
I grinned sheepishly. “Naughty me!”
“Very naughty,” someone shouted.
“Let’s change the topic because, I’m curious,” Mrs. Sallue interjected. “How did you meet ‘Mr. Right’, Orane?”
I grinned at her. “O…kay! Story time! Let me start at the beginning. Sister Harri, may God bless you! I know, I was a little stubborn but I came around, didn’t I? For those of you who don’t know, Sister Harri knew Orane for a while and had been telling me about this nice gentleman. I am like, Sister Harri please.” I lifted my hands in frustration. “She could not even tell me his first name. Okay, if he is that great, what is his first name? Silence!” I threw my hand in the air again in exasperation. “But eventually, we were introduced and we took it from there.”
“The rest is history,” Melissa squealed.
Giggling, I continued, “I have been introduced to quite a few guys and nothing worked out, so I didn’t think that this was going to be any different. Plus, Orane lived so far away.” I rolled my eyes to the sky and giggled. “So far away! But, I am looking forward to my wedding day and I am looking forward to my honeymoon. Oh yeah! Oh yeah!” I danced around, grinning from ear to ear.
“We’ll be there,” Arianna yelled as the group clapped and cheered wildly.
A thoughtful lull came over the group and no one moved.
“Let’s recite Isaiah 40:31,” Allera said intuitively.
Together, we said, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
“That’s the word of the Lord,” Allera said quietly. “The Psalmist emphasized this—teach me Lord how to wait. Annalisa is a living testimony of this. In the book of Samuel, the word of the Lord states that when we honor God, He honors us in return. This is God’s character. He is a covenant keeping God. Annalisa, you have been honoring God. It’s a continuous thing and this is just the tip of the iceberg of God honoring you. Yes, this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Allera declared joyfully. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” She smiled at me. “Just continue to honor God. The Lord bless you and keep you. Saturday is going to be beautiful. Beautiful!”
We held hands and prayed to end an enjoyable evening of ministry, entertainment and fun. I was showered with love from my circle of love.
CHAPTER 32: LET’S REHEARSE
It’s wedding rehearsal day!
A serene smile stretched across my face and youthful exuberance filled my being. I rolled from side to side muffling my squeals of delight before jumping out of bed to perform a spontaneous thanksgiving dance to the Lord. Rushing to my bedroom window, I inhaled then exhaled the crisp morning air. A gorgeous day! The sky was pale blue and wide sunbeams played lazily across the trees. “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it,” I declared, grinning from ear to ear.
A familiar aroma greeted me when I entered the dining room for breakfast. Mr. Mohan, Maydine, Idalyn and Bella were already seated and eating boiled green bananas, steamed ackee and saltfish and fried ripe plantains.
“Ohhhh, I will not be able to fit into my dress.” I winced, taking my seat at the dining table.
“We’ll make sure you do!” Bella said mischievously and the others laughed.
“Yes, we will,” Maydine playfully reassured me.