Gotcha' Last!
By Jeanne Robertson

When our son Beaver was younger, I often played that old "gotcha last" bit on him. I would trick him, grin and proclaim, "Gotcha last!" It frustrated him as a child, but that was years earlier and long forgotten by me. Children never forget.

Beaver dated an interesting assortment of young women ranging from "girls a mother would like" to "she brings tequila with her." Then, to our delight he settled down and married our best friends' daughter, Dayna.
The parents were thrilled!

There was discussion of having a short, sweet wedding but it didn't work that way. Not at all. It wound up being a small town, southern "happening" with parties, luncheons, and dinners for days before the event, and relatives everywhere inhaling food. Beaver fell right in line as a typical groom and had little to do with the overall planning, but he was granted one request. He wanted a band to play at the after-rehearsal party that often played at The Lighthouse in Elon College, where he had his own personal booth. They were called "Big Bump and the Stun Guns." Big Bump could play the electric guitar with his teeth from the parking lot 
while the dancers remained inside. What a talent!

The day finally rolled around everyone crammed into the Front Street United Methodist Church for the thirteen-minute ceremony. The couple was pronounced husband and wife, and proceeded up the aisle as their high school buddy blared forth on his trumpet. I choked back a tear because I didn't want to walk out crying and have people mumble, "I bet she wishes she hadn't traveled so much when he was growing up."

The twelve bridesmaids and groomsmen walked out by two's. Why twelve? I had asked the same thing. Dayna had explained innocently, "The church won't let you have fourteen." I love her!

My husband, the best man, escorted the maid of honor up the aisle. Everything was progressing in strictest Methodist tradition, just the way we like things. I had been reminded repeatedly that it was not a time to be funny. What did people think I would do? Stand up at my son's wedding and
start dropping one-liners?

The bride's mother, my good buddy Gray Long, was escorted out, and husband Gene, in his role as father of the bride, trailed along behind. Before she left, Gray smiled at me. We had done it! Looking back on it, I am surprised we didn't exchange high-fives at the front of the church before she was
escorted up the aisle. Now I waited for my turn to leave ... and waited ....

When the trumpeter started through the hyperboles the second time, beads of perspiration popped out on my forehead. I glanced backwards at my two sisters, who shrugged. Hey, it wasn't their wedding.

More seconds ticked by and my mind was racing. Where was Michael Pittard, Beaver's friend who was to escort me? Hmm, in the tenth grade, he was the one who .... Nah, he has forgotten I told his mother about that. He'll be here. This is a religious ceremony. All these people, months of planning, and the groom's mother - certainly a prime player even dressed in pale - is waiting. Come on, Michael.
Come onnnn.

A murmur started faintly through the congregation and grew louder. Then, commotion! What in the world? Suddenly, there was a huge tuxedo standing next to my pew. I looked up in relief, expecting the usher. Instead, there was a big ol' 6'8" grinning groom looking down at his mama.

A mass of emotion ran through my heart. A great deal of strict, southern, Methodist tradition had been tossed aside by my son and his bride. We don't often step out of the lines at our church, and I was so startled that the guests laughed. By the time I was able to get to my feet -- fighting back the onslaught of tears -- and take my "little boy" by the arm, the congregation broke into applause. Mother and son walked proudly up the long aisle toward the bride waiting at the rear of the church with outstretched
arms. Her parents were standing beside her, laughing. All of them had set me up!

Five feet from the door, Beaver looked down at me and said, "O.K., once and for all. Gotcha last!"

Jeanne Robertson, professional speaker and author, can be contacted at
Photo by Kleeberg Studio.