I was asked to cover this story by the Creswell Chronicle and the Fern Ridge Review. It earned front-page status in the Chronicle.
Much Ado About Saying “I Do”
By Pat Edwards
Sadly, the COVID-19 directives have thrown a monkey-wrench into a lot of plans and dreams. Seniors in high school are having to give up senior proms, senior trips and even graduation. Others are having to reschedule vacations, surgeries, weddings and anything that involve close contact with others.
Jim Gedeon and Michelle Middaugh are no exception. They had wedding plans for March 28 that had to be cancelled. Disappointed? Yes they were both extremely disappointed, but putting a touch of humor on the situation, Michelle described it this way…
“Somebody never learned to cover their mouth when they coughed so now we’re all grounded! Kinda like when my brother, Robert, ate all the maraschino cherries, but we all got in trouble for it.”
Jim and Michelle’s history goes back a long ways. They were classmates at the rural CroLane Middle School and Crow High School from 1972 to 1978, and according to Jim, he had a huge crush on the pretty, young girl named Michelle, but he was so shy, he never even spoke to her. Michelle admits that she didn’t even remember Jim at the time.
Flash forward 40-some years—after marriages to other people and children born and raised for each—and their paths crossed once again about 5 years ago. Jim made up for lost time after that first date at Sylvan Winery where they had wine and cheese and listened to live music, and according to Michelle, it has been a courtship like no other.
Jim may have been shy when he was a teenager, but he became very creative in winning the heart of his lady. He planned surprise dates each week, and the only thing Michelle was allowed to know about them in advance was whether she needed to dress warm, casual or dressy. They went to plays, Christmas bazaars, day trips to the mountains or the beach, but each was planned especially for her.
Michelle says that her very favorite surprise date was the weekend he told her to dress warm. They began driving and after a few hours, he pulled the car over onto a pullout. They got out and walked to an observation area where Michelle suddenly realized she was looking out on Crater Lake.
“I started crying the moment it came into view. I had never seen it before. It was absolutely beautiful.” After taking pictures and taking in the view, they left and Jim said he wanted to stop for a minute and see the lodge that had been remodeled in the 1980s.
“When we stepped into the lodge, I could not believe the size of the amazing fireplace and as I approached it, I heard a woman say, ‘Can I help you?’ followed by Jim’s reply, ‘Yes, we have a reservation.’
“Wait, What? I can’t tell you how I felt at that moment because it was crazy. I couldn’t talk; I was crying and trying to make words come out. I had none. Never in my life have I ever known anyone who had done something like this for me. Whether it was an evening out, a day trip, or a weekend away, every one of them has been so special.”
After Jim proposed earlier this year, Michelle said “yes,” and began planning their black and white-themed wedding. She ordered 150 black folding chair covers, 10 black and white striped table runners, made two red corsages with black feathers and rhinestones for the mommas, and one totally amazing bouquet.
Those who know Michelle, however, weren’t surprised when she jumped on a plan that Jim originally suggested. He was skeptical about how it could be worked out in that amount of time, but those who know Jim weren’t surprised when he went along with it because it was something very important to Michelle.
Michelle also lays some of the blame on their respective mothers who, she says “are bitin’ at the bit to see us finally quit livin’ in sin.”
So, they began planning a drive-in wedding with the help of family and friends. Jim’s son, Jimmy, is a trucker and he was able to arrange the use of a big semi with side curtains to serve as the stage where they could set up decorations, a microphone and say their wedding vows.
Michelle’s son-in-law, Aaron and her daughters, Shauna and Jenny, found and provided palm trees to use for decorations; David Wooley stepped forward to perform the ceremony; Kay Lee Bevans was booked to take photographs; Jim Breitz agreed to be the D.J.; Carolyn from the Broadway Grill in Veneta baked a wedding cake; and friend, Carolyn Wooley, made Michelle’s beautiful dress. All of this was done within a week’s time after Michelle formulated her plan.
The wedding was scheduled for the following Saturday—May 2—in the parking lot shared by the Crow Grange and the Applegate Elementary School in Crow, Oregon. The school is the same one that once housed the CroLane Middle School in 1972 that Jim and Michelle attended.
Invitations were sent out to family and a few friends, and everything was set to go. One worrisome weather forecast loomed on the horizon, however. That Saturday was predicted to bring with it heavy rain and wind, and Michele was asked numerous times if she had noticed the weather forecast.
On the day of the wedding, Michelle described her state of mind… “The skies were churning more than my stomach after eating 10 lbs. of spaghetti!… On my wedding day! It was crazy!” But, she and Jim were determined that it would not be cancelled again.
Cars with their windshield wipers going at a steady beat began arriving in Crow for the ceremony. The mother’s cars were given preferred parking in front and others were instructed to park in rows behind them like some of us did when we went to see a drive-in movie in the “good old days.”
Within minutes of the beginning of the ceremony, the wind quieted, the rain stopped and it was “absolutely beautiful” through the ceremony and lasted until they were packed up and ready to leave. Afterwards, while Jim and Michelle wandered through the parking lot, speaking to their guests sitting in the parked cars, music was played and Jim’s son, Jimmy, sang the same George Strait song, “Give It All We Got Tonight,” that Jim sang to Michelle as they danced in the craft aisle of Walmart on one of their first dates.
She noticed tears running down her husband’s cheeks afterwards, but Jim’s response was, “I was not crying… I’m a big burly truck driver in allergy season.”
It was an amazing wedding and Michelle said afterwards that “I need to thank my man for not telling me I was absolutely crazy to think that I could pull this off in less than a week… Okay, he may have mentioned it a time or two. I just ignored him and told him to trust me. Everything was gonna be all right. And it was! It was PERFECT!”
And there is no doubt that it will continue to be that way for this particular couple.
Jim expressed it best when he said, “God Bless the broken road that brought us back together!“
Some things are just meant to be.