There’s a sense of comfort when a bride walks down the aisle and sees in front of her not the unknown future she will have with her groom, but the complete picture of what they have accomplished in their lifetime. They see their children, their families — and their grandchildren with their families. And their great-grandchildren, too.
So when Lena Henderson, 85, walked down the aisle — draped in a silver dress with a dazzling tiara and escorted by her two grandsons — she was nothing but content.
After being divorced for nearly 50 years, Henderson remarried her groom, Roland Davis, also 85, on Saturday afternoon in Elim Christian Fellowship Church, Central Park Plaza. The couple first married in 1945 as teenagers, then divorced in 1964. Their decision to rekindle their marriage has united Davis with his entire family, whom he had continued to love through their years apart.
The wedding was rare magic, especially to the children.
"I’d always hoped this would happen," said daughter Renita Shadwick. "Every child wishes their divorced parents would come back together. I got that. This makes me feel like a kid."
"They never had anything harsh or contrary to say about each other, always loving words," she added.
Shadwick and her sisters, Johnnie Funderbirk and Valerie Henderson-Odell, were never told why their parents divorced, only that the reason was private. But they did continue to speak throughout the years, even after Davis remarried.
Funderbirk encouraged Davis to return to Buffalo from Colorado Springs, Colo., where he had been living on his own after his second wife died. She was worried about him being by himself.
Davis reconnected with Henderson, and then asked her to remarry him over the phone. She happily complied.
"I’m just excited to see my family," she said before the wedding ceremony, as her granddaughter applied some last-minute lipstick to her. "I have a grandson here from Germany and granddaughters I haven’t seen in two years."
The wedding was natural to her — like a family gathering.
"Just get it on," she said, laughing.
It was a modest but regal ceremony — a sure fit for the elderly couple, both betraying soft, reserved smiles as they sat in chairs across from each other during the processional.
Behind them stood generations of their family, all with broad smiles. The grandchildren cried out of happiness as they watched their grandparents’ wedding day.
Bishop T. Anthony Bronner, who officiated, looked down at the couple as he recited 1 Corinthians 13.
"Love is patient," he began, and then laughed. "Oh, it’s patient," he added later. "God loves you so much he wanted your whole family to see this."
The wedding has received worldwide attention, getting thousands of hits on Twitter and Facebook. Shadwick said she has received many inspiring emails.
A couple in Oregon who had been separated for 30 years reconnected and decided to get married. A similar situation happened to a European couple.
"Oh my goodness, I don’t know how to take it!" Henderson said when asked about the media attention.
Davis and Henderson, who plan to make their home in Seneca Pointe apartments in West Seneca, look forward to spending time with their family.
Honeymoon plans have yet to be arranged. But, as the happy couple walked to their limousine — Henderson with the aid of a flower-festooned walker and Davis, a decorated cane — it was clear their future would be bright.
"It’s love," Shadwick said simply, looking at her parents. "It’s love."
(c)2012 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.)