One thing I always thought to be special, was standing with my girlfriend at the time, and eventually my wife, and sharing a hymnal together in church service. Although we sing praise and worship songs in a more modern version of church these days, the principle remains the same. So as I wrote the excerpt of a chapter for my upcoming novel about my grandfather's life, it struck me that my Granddaddy and I had an awful lot in common. Over Thanksgiving break, my uncle William reminded me of how Granddaddy 'proposed' by telling my Nannie that her finger needed a ring on it...and some weeks or months later made it official during a Sunday morning church service. This brief segment of a chapter is how I envisioned it going down. Those of you who knew my 'Nannie' (Annelle), you may appreciate the story even more. But what touched me was William's description of how he pictured it happening, and I tried to reproduce that in the chapter. The chapter segment closes with a good summary for the reasons behind its subheading:
Excerpt from Chapter 9, "Love Worth Waiting For"
"....Weeks later, after Billy had started his seminary classes, he’d reached out to Annelle and told her he would come visit her and attend church with her. Annelle was staying with her older sister Elizabeth in Newberry, and teaching school in Whitmire. Billy thought he would make his visit to Newberry special; he brought along the ring that arrived in Abbeville shortly after the return from Atlanta. He’d been saving it for just the right time.
Billy didn’t think Annelle would mind. Their engagement was all but official now; he just needed to put a ring on her finger. The church bells rang in Newberry. Annelle’s sister and some family friends all filled in the pew where they’d been sitting the past few Sundays, and her sister Elizabeth made special room for Billy to sit right beside his girl. Annelle smiled and grinned, and took a hold of his hand because she was so happy that they were in church together. The organ started playing, and the congregation stood up and sang Wondrous Cross.
Annelle was delighted, because she loved hearing Billy sing. He had a musical ear, and enjoyed singing church hymns. Annelle loved his singing voice, and she was still smitten with her soldier boy, despite all the strange consequences of war that played out in her and Billy’s lives. When the song was over, the whole row sat down, and the pastor had some opening announcements to make to the church.
For whatever reason, Billy thought that was as good a time as any to slip the small ring box out of his pocket and pass it over to Annelle. Little did he anticipate her surprise and frozen state of dramatic shock and awe as she opened up the very ring she herself had picked out on their trip to Georgia. Annelle opened the lid to the small ring box, and a hand shot up and covered her mouth as she first looked at Billy, then to her big sister on the other side of her. Elizabeth tried to pat Annelle’s knee as she saw Annelle’s eyes well up with tears of joy. Annelle couldn’t make any sound; she was just elated that the day had finally come, where she knew it was official between her and Billy, and she would have something that showed it. She took the small ring out and slipped it on her ring finger on her left hand, but then sat there in awe all over again, still covering her mouth as it hung open. Some small part of her conscience told her to get it together, because after all - she was in church! But her happiness could only be contained so much.
Their relationship had been a long journey that tested both her patience and Billy’s. She couldn’t put her happiness into words, so she just sat there with her hand over her mouth and smiled back and forth between Billy and Elizabeth. After what seemed like minutes, the pastor announced for the congregation the pages of the next hymn. Right before Billy prompted Annelle to stand up and sing along with him again, it was like she took a deep breath of air for the first time since she put the ring on her finger. Everyone in the pew smiled as they saw Annelle finally stand up and take hold of her fiancé’s hand once again, and proudly belt out the words of the next hymn with adoration in her eyes, as she glanced up at Billy while they both held the hymnal."