Written by Emil Schmit
It was a beautiful day for a wedding. Or for almost anything else, for that matter. It was still early June, and nature was at its best. The countryside surrounding the Midwest country club was flaunting its most gorgeous display. What a day for an outdoor wedding!
Earlier in the day Gloria and I had left our motel to have breakfast with our daughter Pam. On returning, I spied a small object lying on the street. When I bent to pick it up I found that it was nothing special, just a burr for a bolt – a six-sided “hex” nut sized to fit a fine-threaded ¾ inch bolt or steel rod. But it was a new, shiny one and had apparently never been used. It was clean and showed no signs of dirt, rust, or paint. I rolled the nut around in my hand for a short while, then checked its’ size – it was too small for my ring finger, but was almost a perfect fit for my little finger. Not being one to throw anything away, I tucked it into my pocket and joined the others in the motel.
Later, arriving at the country club, I spied grandson Gabe, all “tuxed up,” handsome and apparently ready for his role as best man. Walking up to him, I said, “Now look, Gabe, I have been to a number of these fancy weddings where everything got goofed up and delayed when the Best Man got nervous and couldn’t remember where he had put the wedding ring. If you should happen to forget where you put the ring, we can prevent such a snafu if you carry this substitute ring in the jacket pocket of your tuxedo. The ceremony can progress naturally, and a switch with the real ring can be made later.” I handed him the nut.
Gabe took it, looked it over, slid it into one of his pockets, and assured me, “Don’t worry, Grandpa. I have everything under control.”
At the proper time, we relatives and other guests filed out to our chairs. Some of us exchanged comments about the wonderful weather and the beautiful surroundings, including a small man-made lake shimmering and glimmering in the distance.
Music began to play and the bride’s attendants, beautiful in their long gowns took their places and the bridegroom-to-be, our grandson Zachary, and his equally handsome crew of friends lined up in place. Moving gracefully to the tune of a wedding march, the beautiful bride-to-be, Alyson proceeded down the grassy aisle, took her place at Zak’s side.
The Minister appeared to know his business and the ceremony progressed smoothly until it reached the point where the best man was called forward to present the wedding ring. Gabe moved forward, and … Oh! No! He presented the reverend with the bogus ring! With the fine-threaded ¾ inch hex nut! I think I whispered a quick, silent prayer to Our Creator, fervently asking Him (or Her) to grant the preacher a generous supply of patience, understanding and good humor. More than I had found in a few differences of opinion that had arisen between me and several Men of God in the past.
My prayer, though brief and frantic must have been heard. The minister thoughtfully rolled the nut around in his hand, failing to display even a hint of a smile or of anger or disgust. He motioned for the Groom to step forward and almost silently asked whether or not Zak would accept the ring. The surprised groom shook his head … No … this was certainly not the fancy band of gold he had expected to place on his beautiful young wife’s finger as a symbol of their love and commitment. It certainly was not the ring for which he had lain down the big bucks!
The minister looked back at Gabe and held out an empty hand. Gabe shrugged, then started searching his pockets and finally came up with the piece of jewelry that was correct for the occasion. The ceremony proceeded smoothly from that point on. Later, Gloria mentioned the matter to Gabe, and he replied, “Grandma, I had been wracking my brain for days just trying to think up the proper stunt for the occasion, but that fake ring was just the gimmick I needed.”
The next day our son-in-law, Dana, said, “Grandpa, I just don’t know about that hex nut. It had a place-of-honor on the head table throughout the wedding dinner and the dance that followed. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have it bronzed.” I don’t think the nut was ever bronzed. By now it has most likely been lost and forgotten. And is probably remembered by only a few.
Much like that hex-nut wedding ring, many things now remain with us only in memory. Our ambitious, jolly, fun-loving grandson Gabe, too, now lives only in our world of memories. Struck down by a massive heart attack at the tender age of thirty, he was called away from this world and this life far too early, and is no longer here among us. But he lives on with us in treasured memories, and always will. Just these precious memories remain …
Emil Schmit is the 88 year old father of Pam Buttikofer, one of the owners of Imperfect Women. Emil continues to write although age and health issues have slowed him down a bit. He is a is a self-trained poet, free-lance writer, public speaker, and journalist. His weekly column, “Rhyme and Reason,” appeared for over twenty years in the Dubuque, Iowa daily newspaper, the Telegraph Herald. You can read more of Emil’s Bio here. The typewriter pictured on the bio page is one that he sat at for over 50 years creating many of his “rhymes and reasons.”
Gabe Fleming created and designed our Imperfect Women website. We have created an In Memory Of page to honor Gabe. We invite you to read this page to learn more about this wonderful young man and about a scholarship fund his family has set up.