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The Real Story of Mr. Lizard

imgresEvery August I drag out Husband’s and my wedding pictures when we celebrate our anniversary and share them with anyone who will look. And every year someone, now one of our Grands, asks, “What’s he doing?” The picture shows a man, dressed in a white jacket and black pants, bent over and reaching for something under a church pew.

August 3, 1969. Because Byrdstown First Christian Church wasn’t air-conditioned, the windows were raised, hopefully, to allow a breeze. Large fans had circulated air before the 4:30 p.m. ceremony, but were turned off when the wedding music began.

I stood downstairs, directly under the sanctuary, with Dad. The bridesmaids had walked up the steps and down the aisle. Dad kissed my cheek and assured me that I would always be his little girl and he was happy that I was marrying the man I loved, and then, using his white handkerchief, he blotted tears and sweat from my face. Dad and I took deep breaths and waited for silence. When the organ music stopped it was our cue that the rest of the wedding party was in place and we should walk up the steps.

The music stopped and Dad and I heard screams and stomping. Where the guests leaving the church?

Dad left me standing at the bottom of the steps and ran upstairs. Some women stood on pews and many guests stood in the aisle. Two groomsmen, bent from the waist, stretched their arms under pews. T. D. raised his hand. He held a small blue-tailed lizard between his thumb and fingers. The guests applauded. The lizard was taken outside and left near a huge oak tree.   And when the organist hit the first note of the wedding march, Dad walked me down the aisle to Husband’s side.

It was a beautiful wedding. Bridesmaids wore yellow dresses and carried green Shasta mums. Husband’s little sisters were junior bridesmaid and flower girl. Groomsmen wore white jackets and black bowties. Ferns, candles, sprays of flowers adorned the church. And what is remembered most about our wedding? Mr. Lizard.

Most people guessed he crawled inside thru an open window. Not unusual, especially on a hot day. And that’s exactly what I assumed until a few months ago. During a family gathering, I sat with Husband’s cousins around Aunt Bill’s dining room table.

“You know, I need to tell you something,” cousin John said. “Remember that lizard at your wedding?” A few heads nodded. Some people laughed, remembering the commotion.

John took a deep breath. “Well, all these years, I’ve felt guilty. You know everyone thought that lizard came in through a window? It didn’t. Dad did it.”

“He what?” I exclaimed.

“Dad found it outside on the church porch and stuck it in his suit coat pocket. He took it out and let it go right where we were sitting. No one knew except me. Not even Momma. And all these years, I’ve felt bad about it. I’m really sorry.”

I was surprised and immediately accepted John’s apology. It never occurred to me that anyone, not even an uncle who liked to play jokes, was responsible for Mr. Lizard. John’s parents are both deceased, but John apologized profusely for his dad. “He shouldn’t have done it.”

Maybe not. But it’s a good story, and now I can tell the real story about Mr. Lizard. A much better story than the one I’ve told for 46 years.

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