In the mid 1960’s my future as a young teenager was chosen for me. I was informed by my father, a minister in a well-known religious sect, that I had grown up far too inquisitive (I think he meant attractive) and in the eyes of the elders in the church, I was a danger to myself and to his standing in the church. So, he gave me two choices, no discussion was encouraged. I could join the church group of young men and women who sold their religious magazines from door to door every day, or I could choose marriage to a favoured young man in the church, who had already approached my father for my hand in wedded bliss.
I knew this young man, and I also knew of his reputation as a Lothario in our township, but being a naive child of seventeen this seemed the better option. He was twenty-one, tall handsome, and a charmer who promised me the world if I said yes. The wedding was set, my mother beside herself with the arrangements, she advised me not to bother myself about all the bits and bobs, as that is what my mother and sisters were for. All I had to do was continue to work as a salesgirl and dream of the white picket fence, with a rose arbour at the front gate of a white stone cottage, two children playing quietly at my feet, a gorgeous Golden Retriever dog beside them. As I daydreamed, I had no inkling of the heartache that I would witness and be part of.
The wedding date was set, I now busily added anything and everything to my ‘Glory Box’ that would make a home for us both. Weekends had become a frenzy of sewing. A wedding frock of satin and lace materialised from mother’s sewing room, fraying tempers did not help as she tried to organise fittings for bridesmaids frocks, plus new attire for herself.
The big day arrived, I sat staring at the white dress, unease cramping in the pit of my tum, when I heard the doorbell go. I heard mumbling then a child cry. Puzzled, I peeped out, to see my father usher a young woman into the lounge, holding her hand was little girl no older than three. Father had just gulped back a large whisky as I entered the lounge, his words landing like lead pellets in my ears. “This is your young man’s lady friend, and she says this is his child, I will put a stop to this debacle right now, then drive you to stay with your aunt ‘til we have sorted this out.” I knew my mother would have hysterics and my two sisters would follow her lead. Me? I was seventeen and would heal.
Many years have passed, and I will be forever grateful for the amazing strength it must have taken for that young lady to ring the doorbell.