Kittie Howard

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Different Kind of Love

My husband and I married in Hawaii, where he was stationed with the Marine Corps at the time.

We had a simple wedding with nine people in the church, including the Catholic priest who officiated. Father Collins was a Navy chaplain, a captain (colonel) in the U.S. Navy who had served in World War II as a young enlisted sailor.  When he survived a harrowing wartime encounter, he kept his promise to God and became a priest.

Now, at the time, in the Seventies, it was general Church policy for a Protestant like me to convert before marrying a Catholic.  Since I was from Catholic South Louisiana, I knew the rules, but also knew the rules were flexible, depending upon the priest.  My hub-to-be and I had settled the question of religion very easily: I wouldn't convert; he thought my religion was my business.  Thus, we met Father Collins at the appointed time with bright smiles and fluttering hearts.

Father Collins was a congenial, immediately likable person, with a Boston accent and an 'Irish gift of gab', what he called an open personality to match his thinning red hair and fading freckles.  However, I'm from a state where blarney has a French accent, so I knew the light-hearted conversation was separate from the issue of marriage.

It was.

Father Collins coughed lightly, placed his elbows on his desk, and positioned his hands as if in prayer.  Since I'd taught in a Catholic school for a year, I immediately recognized Father Lorio's stance before he lowered the boom on a student.  I knew, just knew, what was coming.

"I can't marry you until you convert to Catholicism," Father Collins said to me.

"I'm not converting," I replied.

He ignored my response and opened the large scheduling calendar on his desk. "A class will begin in two weeks."

"I won't attend."

He penciled my name on a list in the margin and resumed the prayerful position. "Once you convert, I'll be happy to marry you." He leaned forward and said to both of us, "You will, of course, be fruitful and multiply, won't you?"

Hub-to-be and I exchanged you've-got-to-be-kidding-me looks.  So, I said to Father Collins, "I don't want to be contentious about this, but if you can't schedule a wedding date, we'll ask a Protestant chaplain to marry us."

As if the previous conversation hadn't existed, he shrugged and said, "Okay, I'll marry you."

And he did.

A few weeks after the wedding, we learned that Father Collins had been secretly married when he married us. Ours was his last wedding before he retired from the Navy. My first reaction was, what a hypocrite.  My second reaction was to call my attorney father.  "Are we married?" I asked.

"Yep, you sure are," he replied and started laughing.  My father had been ex-communicated from the Catholic Church when he became a Mason.

So, flash forward five years.  My husband and I are now in Virginia Beach.  It's our anniversary.  We go out for dinner and are walking on the rather congested boardwalk afterwards when my husband says, "Here comes Father Collins."

Mr. and Mrs. Collins were laughing and talking and very much enjoying each other's company as they walked toward us, but not seeing us.

For a split second, shoulders brushed as we walked past each other, us into our future and them into theirs.  It was nice, actually, very nice.

I can still hear Mrs. Collins' light laugh and see the twinkle in my husband's eye when he squeezed my hand.

We never saw Mr. and Mrs. Collins again.  I hope their robust health remains, and they're still taking evening strolls.  Every June 3rd, my husband and I remember that evening when love was in the air.  Yes, indeed, it really was.

(And still is.)

Happy Valentine's Day!


Christine Rains said...

What a sweet story. :)

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

What a great story! Perfect for this Valentine's Day!

Carole Anne Carr said...

That is fascinating.

mimi torchia boothby watercolors said...

Great story!! and sorry about the virus. Knocked me on MY butt too.

Susan Weinberg said...

Wonderful story and very well told.

Thyra said...

Hej Kittie! Thank you for one of your wonderful stories.I enjoyed it very much.

Happy Valentines' Day to you and yur husband.

Grethe ´)

Bella Michelle said...

What an interesting turn of events!!! When I was in college one of my favorite professors (art, of course!) had left the priesthood after he realized he was a "hot blooded American man" and he wanted to wed!

So glad you got a glimpse into what became of the Father!

Amy Jarecki said...

Hi Kitty - I tagged you in a blog hop! If you'd like to participate, head on over to my blog :-)


Magnolia Blues said...

That's a great story. Hope y'all had a fantastic Valentine's Day. My hubby is from South Louisiana. I love Louisiana!!!

Jinky said...

Aw, what a lovely story. --Oh Kittie, I'm going to cry. I was finally going to start reading your Remy book and it won't open in my pc kindle ..said, "this book cannot be opened. please remove from your device and redownload". Was there a time limit to have the book read? I thought that once I bought it, I have it forever. Am I just doing something wrong? Oooh :(

Clarissa Draper said...

What an interesting experience. I can't believe he was giving you hard time. Well, I think he made the right decision to marry, he's happy.

Pk Hrezo said...

Good for you standing your ground, Kittie! Protestants unite! ;)

Suze said...

'As if the previous conversation hadn't existed, he shrugged and said, "Okay, I'll marry you."'

This made me giggle, Kittie. You have a talent for capturing moments from memory and laying them out with humor and grace.

I like. :)

Inger-M said...

Such a wonderful and moving story! Perfect for Valentine's day :-)

When I got back from my holiday, was found out I had been awarded The Versatile Blogger Award. I'm now passing it on to you. Go here to find out what you have to do:
If you don't accept awards, that's fine, I still think you are a wonderful blogger friend!

I Wonder Wye said...

I am Episcopalian b/c I married one. Raised Presbyterian. Knew with Excy being a 'cradle E' that I wouldn't have a choice! But his Uncle married us - I love our church which is open, eclectic, and welcoming to all, and I don't think I could handle the Catholic church either...thanks for stopping by my blog -- I have never regretted leaving the working world even though it was due to disability!

Laura said...

What a fab story, a double whammy of romance. Hope you're feeling better
Laura x

Susan Fields said...

What a sweet story! When we got married, I was Catholic but my hubby wasn't so we got married in a non-denominational chapel. It wasn't until we went to get our oldest child baptized that we discovered the Catholic church did not recognize our marriage. So we had to go through all the classes and everything and have another (Catholic) wedding. They didn't ask my husband to convert, though. And the priest took pity on us and met with us privately so I wouldn't have to go through pre-marriage classes with a big pregnant belly. :)

Beth said...

What a lovely story! I'm guessing that it takes some nerve to push back against a priest, but you did it! And I loved that you checked to see whether you were officially married.

Sounds like you've battled some illness lately. I'm glad you're feeling better.

Maria McKenzie said...

There was an ex-priest that was married who used to live on my street. I don't know his first name, but his last was Collins! He married an ex-nun (probably back in the '70s). They moved to an assisted living place a few years ago. Then the last I heard, they moved out west to Oregon (I think) to be with family. He was a kind man who loved gardening and used to bring me vegetables! Don't know if he was the same ex-priest that married you, but wouldn't it be funny if he were!

Cherie Reich said...

Aww! That's the sweetest story! :)

Jinky said...

Yeay, just got your book back on my Kindle PC! Just starting to read now. I'm not an ebook reader so I may be slow. :)

Jen Chandler said...

What a fun story! Thanks for sharing :D


Sandra said...

A lovely story, thanks, Kitty!

There will be celebrations in London this June also for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Best wishes from Sandra