The Grand Elopement

Wendy Hornsby

I just don’t get Facebook.  Twice now I’ve hit the wrong button and sent messages that either weren’t what I intended or targeted someone I did not intend.

I admit that I haven’t put much time or effort into learning to love Facebook, or to becoming at all familiar or proficient with a tool that can help the writer “get oneself out there.”  For the same reason, I now have a webpage,  Knowing my limitations, I handed design and management of the webpage to a professional.  But Facebook – whatever happens there is all my fault.

I was simply adding stuff to my profile one day when I pushed a button that apparently sent the following message to everyone in theWestern Hemisphere:  “Wendy Hornsby has changed her marital status.”   I hadn’t changed anything except the Facebook profile; we’d been married for a while.

Congratulations started flowing in.  Among the well wishers was Harry, my editor at the Grunion Gazette, our local newspaper where my column, “No Mystery Here” runs every second Thursday (  When I told Harry that I wasn’t new to marriage but only new to Facebook commands, he suggested that there was a column in there.  Somewhere.

My husband, Paul, thinks there’s a book in there.  Not about Facebook, but about the circumstances that led us to, finally, change our marital status, i.e., get married.

I’ll skip the part about the night Paul got down on one knee.  Let’s just say that it was long ago enough that getting down on his knee wasn’t as big an issue at it might be today. 

We chose a date in fall and reserved the Church of St. Mary of  Aldermanbury on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.  The church has significance for our family – both his and mine – and that’s where we met.  Because the wedding was to be inMissouri, the event had to be in the fall – after the bugs and before the ice.

Before we announced our plans to anyone, Paul’s nephew Travis and his Dawn announced that they were getting married that fall, at St. Mary’s.  Travis, at that time an army captain, was deploying to Iraq at  Christmas.  Nothing should distract from their special event, we decided.  Certainly not a couple of oldsters toddling down the aisle.  We called the church and postponed for a year.

The next fall, my son Christopher married his lovely Cherylyn in a beautiful garden ceremony inFresno, where they live.   The following fall we went to Williamsburg, Virginiafor the wedding of another nephew.   By that point, we had given up on traipsing all the way toMissourifor our own nuptials and were looking for somewhere closer to home.  Before we made a decision about where and when that might happen, we got a save the date card from my cousin Douglas and his fiancée Rachel; in the fall we went toPlacerville.

Finally, five years after Paul got down on his knee, it was our turn.  Plans were made for family and a few close friends to join us on Thanksgiving weekend at a favorite resort on the Central Coast for a simple service on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. 

But, in September of that year, the day before my birthday, an old acquaintance dropped by and changed our plans, once again. 

I had gone to see the doctor a couple of weeks earlier about an infection.  Lymphedema, he thought, a less than lovely legacy of breast cancer treatment thirteen years before.  But, out of caution, he ordered some tests.  Each test led to another until finally I was sent for a biopsy.

I thought I had done my time with the Big C.  But there it was, caught on video, a brand new invasive tumor.  Good prognosis the surgeon told us.  Big surgery.

First thing the morning after we heard that bomb shell, after he wished me a happy birthday, Paul said, “Let’s get married today.”  And that’s what we did.

We got a license at the LAX courthouse, bought rings, and called my children with both pieces of news.  We all agreed to meet at my son’s house inFresno.  With my son officiating, we were married in his living room.  As fine an elopement as there could be.

Other than my kids and their spouses, the only witnesses were my grandogs, Fritz and Pelée, and various cats whose names I don’t keep straight.   After the ceremony, we went to lunch.  And there was cake, because I believe no big event is official until there’s cake. 

We went ahead with the Thanksgiving event as planned.  Before friends and family, on a bluff overlooking the ocean at sunset, we repeated our vows, and said thanks for bountiful blessings, including, again, good health. 

And then we had turkey.  And cake.  


10 Responses

  1. Utterly delightful, Wendy. And suspenseful! You were all too kind to relations and friends to keep postponing! But all’s well that ends well, as Shakespeare wrote.
    Yes, Facebook has a way of creeping into one’s life and misconstruing, My granddaughter persisted in taking my picture at whatever occasion: overdressed, underdressed (that is, half clad), grinning or pouting, and putting the photos on FB for all to see. And FB printed them in perpetuity, despite my attempts to delete. And so it goes. Reinventing us.

    • Oh, the nondeletable cringy photos my beloved children and friends have posted when I get caught unawares at their special events! Nothing to do, I suppose, but grin and bear it.

  2. A wonderful story, Wendy. I hope you’re both now enjoying each other and good health.

  3. Wendy, you’re always so upbeat and uncomplaining, I’d forgotten all the stuff you went thru in recent years. I’m so glad things are better.

    Speaking of Facebook, the Bizarro cartoon in the Chronicle today showed a funeral with one attendee. A relative was saying to the priest, “That’s odd, he has 2000 friends on Facebook.”

  4. What a great story, Wendy!

  5. Awww, Wendy, that’s the most beautiful, romantic thing I’ve read in a long time. You and Paul are so much a team it’s just wonderful to see.

  6. I

    love you, Wendy. It was a great day when our families joined.
    love, Ellen.

    Now I don’t know which button to puch (or push if you spell it right).

  7. Hey, Cuz! What a great story. It’s fun to know how it came to be that we have an official new cousin. We are hoping to see you this winter/spring, and wish you the best in person. And please, keep writing! love you lots, Suz

  8. I don’t get facebook either and can barely manage sorting through a blog. Thanks for keeping in contact.

    From: Your favorite person, your idol, the ONE you hope to emulate in your plebian life, shalom.

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