As I stood there at the reception, wishing you, you know what I saw? That air conditioned room, bejeweled women in gracious silks, the hum of conversation and plush carpet underfoot – all of this fell away to an image of a lush field, past it the chimneys and sheds of that other factory beyond the concrete wall, but yes, lush green dotted with a placid cow or two and generous with sunshine to hurt the eyes. You were seated in that cubbyhole of an office on the mezzanine with the low roof and bay window overlooking the green, a somnolent drone of a wall-mounted fan that barely made a difference in that nasty heat. Fitting in somehow and scraping together the time for your studies along with your work as steno. The workload was horrible, but you managed, taking paper after paper as an external student. First graduation, and then that MBA. Of course I did cajole and wheedle, boss and tease, heckle you several zillion times. And despite the rather long hours that each promotion brought you, your smile remained as calm. Today, your bride wears a radiant smile, you are beaming, all dazzling sunshine. I hold back from breaking into a Cliff Richards number and hold in that catch in my throat as I realize I want you both to be as happy as happy, always.
But of course I didn’t say this, hitting you hard on the shoulder instead.