During a time when most grooms are finding the right song to play during their mother-and-son dance, Nick Norwood was grieving a wedding tradition that would never happen. His mother, Dorothy, had died in 2016, and the 26-year-old was still dealing with the grief of losing one of his biggest cheerleaders.
“My mom is and has always been our guardian angel,” Norwood tells Babble. “She loved us more than any mother possibly could have.”
Just days before his 2017 wedding, the Oklahoma resident found himself struggling as he tried to imagine marrying his wife, Shyanne, without Dorothy by his side. Shyanne took notice of how much pain her husband-to-be was in and listened intently as he shared with her just how much he was missing his mom.
“All I could think about is how I wished my mom could be a part of it somehow,” he says. “I would think about how happy she would be seeing me marry the love of my life. It felt like emotions I was dealing with initially after her death were all coming back full circle.”
That’s when Shyanne crafted a plan that would ultimately take her spouse’s breath away.
On the day of their wedding, Shyanne enlisted the help of her mom to take her husband-to-be on a very special field trip. Norwood’s mother-in-law took all kinds of detours and backroads to keep the groom constantly guessing as to where they were headed. They even went so far as to make him wear a blindfold, so as not to give the surprise away.
Once they arrived at the spot, Norwood took off the blindfold and stood in awe, witnessing his bride-to-be in her wedding dress for the very first time.
“As my eyes started to focus, I had a big smile on my face as I examined my fiancée and gave her a big hug and kiss,” he shares. “During these few seconds of our first look, I figured we were in just some random field somewhere. I was just so focused on my fiancée at the time.”
That is, until he looked around and noticed exactly where Shyanne had taken him.
Standing just a few feet away from the couple was the gravestone of Norwood’s mother. Immediately, the two began to cry happy tears as they celebrated the special moment with Dorothy by their side.
“As my eyes made contact with my mom’s gravestone, I remember my fiancée telling me she wanted my mom to be a part of our big day,” Norwood explains. “She comforted me as I embraced the moment. I remember feeling her presence that day. I know she was looking down on us, smiling.”
As Norwood took in the joy of his wedding day, he was surprised yet again with another moving reminder of his mom. During the ceremony, the pastor was preparing to have the two exchange rings. As he retrieved the wedding bands, the groom noticed a very special book in his pastor’s hands.
“I realized it was my mom’s bible,” he says. “Our wedding rings were tied to my mom’s bookmark, and it was like a part of my mom was there bearing the rings that conjoined our lives together.”
Norwood felt immensely grateful to have his mother’s loving presence throughout his wedding. As he embraced each healing moment, he was also reminded of the miraculous way Dorothy entered his life years ago. The groom was adopted, along with his twin brother, by Dorothy and her husband when they were both just babies.
“We were born prematurely, on drugs, and immediately taken away from our biological parents,” shares Norwood. “We found out later in life from doing research that our biological parents both died from drugs and alcohol by the time we would have been 6 years old.”
In addition to Norwood and his brother, Dorothy also adopted another boy and girl, as well as birthed four children herself and fostered over a hundred kids.
“Engraved on my mom’s tombstone are the words, ‘Mom to Many,'” says Norwood. “My twin brother and I used to always call her a professional mom.”
Thankfully for Norwood, he need not look very far to find loving reminders of his mom on a regular basis. Shyanne shares many of the same heartwarming qualities as the mother who generously cared for him, including a desire to raise children in an uplifting, joyous home. The couple is expecting their first child on November 5, and the dad-to-be couldn’t be more excited to cherish every single moment with his growing family.
Norwood and his wife hope to ultimately have several kids of their own, and thanks to Dorothy’s inspiration, they are also considering fostering a child down the line.
“I knew before marrying my wife that she would be for our future children what my mom was for me,” Norwood says.
Best wishes to the Norwood family, and many thanks for moving us to no end today.