I spoke with our friend, Sheryl, and she informed me that the Drs. Petrozza were leaving town for a weekend in a few weeks and that we could use the house. I formulated a private evening of dining, music and dancing. Sheryl was invaluable in this process. Knowing that Lois was expecting a proposal, I didn't try to hide the fact, but intentionally misled her so the evening would be a surprise. I had Sheryl make a hand-calligraphied invitation for a formal Saturday night at the Petrozzas. I spoke with her friends and had them schedule a "girls night out" for the Friday evening prior with the understanding that they were going to deliver her to my little party. They got together with Lois and found out what she planned to wear. I explained to Lois that I was spending Friday evening at the Petrozza's to set up. When her friends came to pick her up, they worked together to divert her attention as they secreted her clothes and accouterments with them in the car. The coordinated participation of friends represents our need to maintain external friendships throughout our life together: people to help us in times of need, people with whom to minister and people to whom to minister.
Her friends then brought her to the Petrozza's ostensibly for one of them to bring something to me. When they arrived, they got out and produced her clothes and explained that "tonight was the real night." Then they took her into a bathroom to change for the evening. they emerged to a reception by me in a tux. Then all of them left except for Sheryl and Lois' best friend, Alysha, who was to be our matron of honor.
Sheryl also had prepared the meal. I worked out a seven-course meal with her. We had hors d'oeuvres, soup, salad, entree, dessert, chocolate and coffee. I know the chocolate and coffee went together, so there must have been something else in there. The entree was garlic pork chops with those fancy green beans you always get in those high-end catered meals. The portions were appropriately sized and each course until the last was spaced and timed to produce a longing for the next course. Seven, of course, represents the number of complete perfection. The meal was to represent our life together as we progress from one stage of our life to another, we would continue to long for our life together in the next stage.
We sat across the table from each other. Between us was a single red rose in a bud vase flanked by two tapered candles. The combination represents the influences on our lives. The candles represented Lois' late sister, Lori, who strove to be light to the world. My mom always encouraged people to stop occasionally and smell the roses. In her last days, her hospital room was filled with roses from people who had gotten the message. The rose, of course, is as of the Rose of Sharon, a representation of Christ. Between the two, the rose and the light, we have represented Christ and the Church. From Ephesians, we see that the relationship between husband and wife is to represent the relationship between Christ, the Head, and His people, the Church, the Body of Christ.
I had earlier spoken with Emma Foster, mother of a girl with whom I had graduated high school. Emma owned and operated a small floral shop in Statesville at the time, Love Blossoms. Taking my cue from the name, I went in and asked Emma if there were a way to cause a rose to bloom over the course of an evening - a few hours. She thought about it and placed a fresh rose in a sleeve to keep it from blooming. Then she aged it. I can only guess as to precisely what happens in the petals of a rose, but it pretty much worked. As the table was set, the sleeve was taken off the rose and throughout the course of the evening, the petals did indeed open somewhat. This is important later...
I had made tapes (burning CDs at home was not widely done at the time) of soft instrumental music to serve as background music when we ate and slow dance music between courses. I had written a song with which to propose and recorded the background accompaniment with a couple of synthesizers, a drum machine and a shakuhachi onto my old reel-to-reel. It was timed to play just after the chocolate and coffee. I don't have the words with me, but I'll have to dig them out and post them. I titled it, "The Rose". Sheryl had made a small red velvet pillow to use when I proposed. As the accompaniment music began, I took the rose and kneeled before her where she sat. I sang and at the end tilted the rose forward to reveal the engagement ring I had placed in it earlier.
The history is still being written...
I include this photo of the wedding. (No, we didn't get married the next day.)
Bob and Sheryl are each just behind the best man and matron of honor respectively. One other note - for the wedding, to continue the symbology my brother (best man) and I placed a rose on the altar and we called for the windows of the church to be lighted with candles tht had been donated in memory of Lois' sister.