Two Bits



Julie Ellingson
Executive Vice President
Over the years, I’ve had the honor of being a bridesmaid on eight different occasions. I’ve stood up alongside my sisters, my brother, my cousin and a couple of my childhood best friends on their special days. Through it all, I’ve planned my share of bachelorette parties, played my share of bridal shower games and still have a large selection of lovely satin and velvet dresses and coordinating, but painful, shoes stashed in my spare closet as memories of these joyful occassions and people I love.
I added a ninth experience to my wedding-party resume last month — but this one didn’t require a spray tan, Spanx or a bobby-pinned updo. Over my lunch hour, I ran an errand that took me to our county Extension office, where I ran into longtime, but now retired, Morton County Agent Jackie Buckley, who happened to be in the office that day. While we chatted about the upcoming National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, which my daughter and her team that Jackie is coaching will be competing in, a lady rushed into the office and rambled something about her friends getting married and needing our help.
We assumed she was looking for the office of the justice of the peace, and Jackie directed her where to find that in the courthouse.
“No, you don’t understand,” she insisted. “I need your help. My friends are here to get married and they need two witnesses in order to make it happen. They don’t have anyone else. Can you come with me?”
Jackie and I shot each other a glance and a smile and knew immediately that we had to help.
We followed the woman into the hall, where we met the excited, but nervous, bride and groom, Lourdes and Mario, who hail originally from Mexico and Texas, respectively, and are now working at a nearby power plant, where they met and fell in love.
We made chit-chat and exchanged love stories until it was time for the nuptials to begin.
The insistent friend and “wedding planner” is a New Jersey native and co-worker and doubled as an interpreter for the celebration. The county employee officiating the wedding enlisted the Jersey girl’s help in repeating the vows in Spanish when she discovered that the blushing bride didn’t speak a lick of English, just like she didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. “I’m sure she’d like to know what I am saying and what she is agreeing to,” the thoughtful woman remarked.
The friend’s Spanish was a bit broken, and she often hesitated to come up with the right words to make the translation, but she got through it better than Jackie or I would have. My Spanish-speaking skills end after the handful of phrases I learned by watching “Sesame Street” as a child and regularly eating at Taco Johns, which is across the street from the office.
In the end, the couple was pronounced man and wife, and the groom was invited to kiss his bride. We signed the paperwork to make it official, gave the couple a congratulatory knuckle punch, offered them our well wishes and went back to work.
I’m not sure if there is a major life lesson or moral to this story other than this: life is unpredictable. You never know who you will encounter or what is going to happen, but take every opportunity you are given to make a difference for those around you. Seize the day. Celebrate in the unexpected, beautiful moments of your life.
Best wishes to Lourdes and Mario for a lifetime of love and laughter.
North Dakota Stockmen's Association * 407 S. 2nd St. * Bismarck, ND 58504 * 701-223-2522 *