Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ferlin Husky's Birthday

A year or so back, one of Laura's students was distraught because her father was in the hospital. She had to pick him up and take him to the Country Music Awards show. We thought that was pretty extreme -- he was in the hospital after all, and couldn't even walk. It was a very complicated deal to take him out to a big show like that. "Who is your father," Laura asked. Turns out her father was Ferlin Husky, and the reason he had to go to the CMA show was that he was being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, an honor that was long overdue.

Laura let her student know we were fans from way back and she passed the news along. Ferlin Husky, in turn, sent us several CDs and sent Laura an autographed CMA calendar, with best wishes on her birthday -- which also turned out to be the same as his. December 3. That calendar is up on the kitchen wall now, with his big scrawled autograph across the date: Happy Birthday, Laura! Ferlin Husky. This is poignant, because Ferlin passed away not long after he sent it to her and was not around to celebrate his shared birthday this year.

Laura's birthday has a bad history. For years, awful things have happened. Her former partner died unexpectedly on it 20 years ago. Her own mother died on it 3 years ago. One wag suggested it was the ultimate irony of a Jewish mother to die on her daughter's birthday so she would never forget her mother's Yahrzeit. Laura's favorite pets have chosen that day to leave this life. Not a good record. If ever there was a date that needed redeeming, this was it.

So, this year, on Ferlin Husky's birthday and Laura's mother's Yahrzeit, we made a good memory to forever change the history of that date. We got dressed up, our son Josh drove us to our synagogue, and we got married.

Here we are, circling one another under the chuppah as the ceremony begins, sort of like marking out our territory. The chuppah is open on all sides to include the community, and at the top as well. On the easel is our beautiful marriage contract. Behind us is the Ark which holds the sacred Torah scrolls, nestled in heavy velvet wrappings. The Hebrew lettering on the chuppah reads  "Ani l'dodi v'dodi li." The star of David on our Ketubah is made up of the same Hebrew words. The translation is, "My beloved is mine and I am my beloved's." 

Our beautiful Ketubah (marriage contract).

It was a beautiful ceremony, celebrated in the midst of our beloved community and family. People came from all over to be there for our simcha. We had a good celebration afterward, too. Our friend Judy Baer made the    wedding cake, which tasted as good as it looked. 

And so, after 12 years together, we are married. Not in the eyes of the government, but by the laws of Moses and in the eyes of our Reform Jewish faith and our synagogue community. We have a binding contract, signed by the rabbi and by each of us and by two friends who served as witnesses. It  will be framed and displayed in a prominent place in our home. To have our relationship honored and accepted so completely is precious beyond words. The little terrified girl in me who knew she was different and could be arrested just for existing back in the 1950s has been healed and made whole. Our relationship has been strengthened and made more tender in some wonderful and unexpected way. 

Happy birthday, Ferlin, wherever you are. May your memory be for a blessing.