By Jim Ritch –
When Matthew Fincen, a heretofore confirmed bachelor from Onancock, walked down the aisle Saturday with bride Brenda Parker, of Melfa, some of the guests cheered from behind glass.
The guest of honor, however, his mother, 93-year-old Marilyn Fincen, enjoyed a shaded, front-row seat, well within earshot of her son’s vows, much closer than she expected last fall when the wedding plans began and COVID-19 restrictions prevailed.
Then, “we thought she’d be watching through a window,” said Matthew.
For that reason, the couple brought the ceremony to an unlikely place, immediately outside Commonwealth Senior Living in Onancock.
Marilyn had been too instrumental in bringing the bride and groom together to be left out.
Although Matthew and Brenda briefly attended Onancock High School together in the 1970s, they ran in different social circles and never really connected.
Three decades later, they both belonged to a small, local Facebook group, called the Moon Beam Club.
When Brenda’s car slid off her driveway in a 2005 snow storm, she broadcast to the club that she needed a tow.
Matthew responded, but declined the $20 that she offered him when he was done.
“He said, ‘Give it to the church of your choice,’” and the two “kinda bonded,” she said.
But Matthew did not move quickly to woo her.
Over the next three years, he invited her for meals out, “but I wasn’t thinking of it as a date,” she said.
Then Marilyn needed a visiting caregiver, and Matthew recommended Brenda.
Not only did Marilyn and Brenda bond, but Matthew then “came over to visit both of us,” Brenda said.
And Brenda became smitten.
“I knew I was in love with him, because I couldn’t sit there looking into those blue eyes without getting dreamy,” she said.
So, she asked him to marry her.
“He just said, ‘I’m not ready for this. He was pretty much ready to be a confirmed bachelor,” Brenda said.
Then Marilyn moved into Commonwealth, and Brenda asked Matthew again.
“The second time he sat there confounded, and I said, ‘I’m not going to ask you again.’ I thought we were destined to be boyfriend and girlfriend forever,” she said.
Then, the state’s COVID-19 restrictions hit, and Brenda and Matthew started seeing more of each other, not less.
“COVID brought us together,” she said.
On Oct. 30, the two were sitting at home, and he popped the question.
She replied, “Are you kidding?! Yes.”
The wedding was a very local affair, organized by Brenda’s high school friend, Debra Forrest, and photographed by Forrest’s niece, Lauren Hensley, who drove five hours from Western Virginia.
Presiding was the Rev. Bobby Parks, of First Baptist of New Church, who graduated from Central High School.
“I couldn’t stop smiling. It was just magical,” said Brenda.