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WOSTER: I trust her with my boat

Terry Woster


Mrs. Woster's baby boy got married last weekend, and we hauled ourselves and a boat nearly 500 miles into the heart of Minnesota for the ceremony.

Andy is the youngest of three Woster children. He's in his middle 30s and has been out on his own for years and years, but he's still his mother's little boy. His wedding to Katie, a North Dakota woman turned Denver neurologist, took place on the shore of Cass Lake. The lake is one of, you know, 10,000 or so in Minnesota, but it has a postcard charm that makes it unique, the sort of uniqueness the Teton Mountain Range has among all the mountains that fill Wyoming, Colorado and several other western states.

Now, this old Missouri River boater, long accustomed to operating in 100 to 150 feet of water, struggled to adjust to a lake bottom that rose and fell from 30 and 40 feet deep to 2 or 3 feet without as much warning as a lake newcomer with an old boat would like. Times like that, you trust the experience of the Cass Lake veterans, so when Katie offered to guide us on a ride through all sorts of narrow, shallow channels toward the mouth of the Mississippi River, I told her I trusted her with my life -- and even more, with my boat.

The bride and groom exchanged vows under a hand-crafted birch arbor as ducks paddled in the shallow water that lapped gently against the sandy shore. The evening was refreshingly cool for mid-July in Minnesota lake country. A going-on-full moon rose in time to cast a shimmering, delicate light on the surface of the water as the young wedding guests began to get with the music and the older guests began to seek quieter spots with a view of both the lake and the dancers.

Andy's big sister married 21 years ago, and his older brother married seven year ago. Each ceremony was an emotional time for Nancy and me. We (mostly she) tried to raise the kids to be the sort of adults other adults would enjoy being around. We like being around our kids, always have. As each moved from home to start an independent life and later to share a life with someone they loved, we experienced the joy of their happiness but a slight sense of sadness for the passing of the years when we were the big deals in our children's lives.

I was feeling those emotions at the ceremony as I watched Andy and Katie make the most solemn promises two people can make. I know Nancy was feeling the same thing, because she had a lot of time around Andy as he was growing up. He came along 10 years after his big sister, nine years after his big brother. His siblings left home for college only a year apart. From middle school through high school graduation, Andy was, except for the occasional visits home by the college kids, the only kid in a Woster house that was intended to hold several children.

He was like an only child in some ways. He did his best to make enough noise for three children, but still, it was just Andy and the old folks. We missed the noise and activities when Andy left for college. If I thought about that briefly during the ceremony, who can blame me? It was a wonderful time in our lives.

I thought about it only briefly, though, because Andy just took a next step that promises challenges, excitement, adventure and much happiness. It will be a wonderful time in our lives, too. We've come to know and treasure Katie, but the Cass Lake visit was our first real chance to spend time with her family. Katie's parents, brother and sisters and their spouses have accepted our youngest child as family, not just some guest who showed up and didn't have the decency to leave. That's a grand thing for a parent to see.

As we drove home from the lake, I wondered if Katie's folks could see we feel the same way about her. I hope so.