Love and Marriage, Part 4: Sisters

As some of you know, I’m in crazy writing mode. I have a deadline coming up, and my life right now is writing and more writing with breaks for the gym and food. By sunset, which comes early now, I can barely form comprehensible sentences, and it’s time for dinner, a TV show, and bed.

BUT—this past weekend, I took a break for my little sister’s wedding. Our newly married daughter and her wife flew in for the weekend, and we went to a wine festival on Saturday,











the annual Red Bank Battlefield (Fort Mercer) reenactment Sunday morning,

Red Bank Battlefield

Red Bank Battlefield American forces firing the cannon


The charge by the British troops!


A casualty of war








and then my sister’s wedding on Sunday night. On Monday, my husband and I went out to lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant with my daughter and her wife before they flew back home.

My sister was my maid of honor when my husband and I married 36 years ago. I never thought I’d be at her wedding, standing at her side to witness her say her vow of love and commitment to her long-time partner in love and life. For over twenty years, she and her now wife have been together. They’ve built a life for themselves in their beautiful house with their two cats and a dog. My dad did not get to see this day, but he would have been thrilled and excited. My ninety-two-year-old mother was there, smiling—and dancing, too. I know this was an event she never thought she’d witness.

Some people would say I’ve been to two “gay weddings” in the last two months, but to me, they were simply weddings of two couples in love. One is a young couple just beginning their lives together, and one an established couple of many years, but they, too, are now newlyweds. My sister’s wedding was a joyous affair. As they gazed into each other’s eyes, my sister and my new sister-in-law said their vows. Family and friends surrounded them in a love cocoon from which they emerged transformed, married. We cried tears of joy, and laughed and cheered as they broke the glass.

Sunday morning had dawned blustery and cold. My daughter, her wife, and I walked to the battlefield. I’m writing an encyclopedia of daily life during the American Revolution—it was a weird and wonderful seeing people dressed in the clothing of the period I’ve been writing about. We took a tour of the Whitall House. I wondered what the strong Quaker woman who had lived there over two hundred years ago would have said about two women marrying. She was a woman who spoke her mind—I’ve no doubt that she would have had an opinion. Despite being morally opposed to war, she cared for wounded soldiers in her home. Perhaps she would have disapproved of a same sex marriage (a concept that she would not even have considered), but I like to think she’d recognize the love in the hearts of those committing to a life together. My daughter and her wife glow, and everyone around them feels their love. The beating of the drums that day on the battlefield marked the rhythm of soldiers and battles. The hearts that bled out that day—and stopped–had been hearts that loved and had been loved.

Sunday evening was filled with warmth. Hearts beat excitedly with anticipation and were filled with love. I got to see my sister married, something remarkable, simple, and profound.


We’re excited and waiting for the wedding to begin!

16 thoughts on “Love and Marriage, Part 4: Sisters

  1. Oh Merril, how I enjoy your essay on todays’ love stories, of your sister and your daughter, as compared to US History Colonial Times love stories! In many ways, both the concept and realization of gay weddings, time has stood still for the past 200 years. Also a witness, to your sister’s recent legalized ceremony of marriage in the state of Pennsylvania, I too interpreted the occasion, as a demonstration of unconditional love shared by each partner, by the glimmer in each of their eyes, when their own vows were exchanged and the glass was broken, then married was declared! Chills ran throughout my body for their committed love, as it rippled to all the friends and family in the room.

    As for feeling the power of love in your sister’s and daughter’s hearts with their newly wed partners, my eyes saw their love by how they deeply engulfed their now life partners’ eyes with the strength of love not witnessed by many in other heterosexual marriages. But back to my response to my dear friend of 43 years and your sister of 56 years recent gay wedding. As the delicious food was served, myself and two other lifelong friends to your sister, were honored to be seated at the head family of the bride and bride’s table. Oh what a surprise to me but more so an honor to be Blessed to exchange warm dialog with my friends’ mother, who is 92 years old and I’ve grown up since 6th grade as an adopted daughter to my friends’ mother in her suburban home outside of Philadelpia. It was like no time had passed and she still remained a woman of inspiration of how to live a healthy long life! As I sat eating my meal, I was directly across from my dear friend and partner, who is my wise soul friend of 23 years. The looks of love in their eyes and beautiful smiles so gracefully exchanged solidified their ceremony and vows exchanged less than 30 minutes prior.

    As the night progressed, we spoke with old friends and were introduced to many new friends then danced to fabulous songs as group participants and couple songs too! Your daughter and her partner, captivated my vision, as their love engulfed the room. This couple’s love and happiness warmed my heart, as I can only hope to share the intense love they have together.

    For me, sharing such a precious, intense loving affair with my old buds of over 4 decades, friends & family members of both partners, and new friends who were so easily
    accepted and loved passed so quickly that before we knew it, the last song was announced. Our time of celebration was complete, with my dear long life friend and her newly wedded partner danced solo as we all watched, with tears of joy trickling down our cheeks. The love that filled this venue for over six hours ended with such a heart touching dance by the two newlyweds! We all cheered and gathered our belongings, gave so many warm love-filled hugs to now many friends of the sister of this article and one of my closest lifelong loving friend and now her legal lifelong partner. Oh what a night is was and will be tucked away in my heart forever. I love you both and will see you soon! Congratulations my friends, just as they said after weddings over 200 years ago, in Colonial America! The common denominator is love, and everyone is Blessed by Love and we should and will celebrate love on a daily basis. This emotion is so powerful in any time of history. Thank you Merril Smith for posting such a wonderful article related to your loving sister’s marriage and compared to Colonial America’s Family Life Styles.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Linda! It truly was a wonderful night–and along with seeing my sister and her wife take their vows before all of us, it was also wonderful seeing my family and seeing wonderful friends, like you, who I have not seen in so long. I’m glad you were able to make it to the wedding and share in the joy of my sister and our family.

  2. Merril … Excellent photos and post. How exciting to be present during a reenactment of the Red Bank Battlefield. Is this part of your writing on American life during the Revolution?

    Best wishes to your sister and your new sister-in-law. May the love they have shared the past two decades continue to bloom and grow. 😉

  3. Hi Judy! No, the reenactment takes place here every year. I’m not involved with it at all, but it was strange to be so absorbed in the book and then to go see it. (Manuscript will be sent in this week!!!) Thank you for your good wishes and kind words.

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