ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

FATHER OF THE BRIDE II

A wise man once said: "That which we persist in doing becomes easier not that the task itself becomes easier, but our ability to perform it becomes greater."

Obviously, this man had never been the father of the bride.

This is my second time in the role in three years, and believe me, it isn't any easier. If anything, it's harder not because I like Andrea any better than I like Amy, but because... well, because I've done this before. My eyes are open. I know what's going on. I'm more likely to ask questions. And the way I see it, making a wedding is like making sausages: the fewer questions you ask about the process, the better off you will be.

For example: the wedding dress. I understand the reasons for having the bride dressed in a beautiful, ornate, billowing white dress. It's traditional. It makes her stand out from the crowd. It makes her queen of her day. I'm OK with all of that. Really. I am.

What I don't understand is, why do we have to buy it? I mean, we rent the tuxedos the men in the wedding party will wear, don't we? Why can't we rent the bride's dress? This seems to me to be a perfectly logical thing to do. It's not like you ever see women wearing their wedding dresses when they go out for the evening not even to the most formal occasions. No for those occasions they have to buy a NEW dress. So why invest so much money in a dress Andrea will wear for what three hours? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Which is probably why I wasn't invited to go shopping for wedding dresses. Come to think of it, I'm NEVER invited to go along when wedding dollars will be spent. It must be the questions. Or the tears trickling down my cheeks and splashing on the checks I'm asked to sign. You can't imagine how testy some sales clerks get when asked to handle a damp check.

Of course, there are other tears that will be shed. Last Sunday we were sitting together at church I was in my usual spot at the end of the pew, Andrea was next to me and husband-to-be Nate was on the other side of her. At one point during the service a wave of emotion swept over me as I realized how dramatically everything would change during the coming week. I know, I know she'll always be my daughter. And it's not like they're moving far away. She'll be back. But it won't be the same. I know that. I've been down this road before, remember?

So the tears flowed unexpectedly and uncontrollably right there in church, in front of God and everybody. They were tears of sadness and tears of joy, tears of happiness and tears of pain. Twenty-plus years of loving this extraordinary young woman cascading from my heart and puddling on the church carpet below me. Andrea reached over to squeeze my hand, but it didn't help much especially since her other hand was attached to Nate, and he wasn't letting go.

So we sat there like that for a moment Andrea holding hands with Nate and with me, simultaneously. To be honest, I was kind of hoping that she'd let go of Nate and snuggle up to me like she's done so many times in the past. But deep in my heart I knew that wouldn't be right. Her hand didn't belong in mine any more it belonged in Nate's. I looked up at Andrea and smiled. I gave her hand a squeeze, then I let it slip from my hand. Thus unencumbered, her hand naturally moved back to Nate's, enfolding his hand in both of hers as she leaned her head against his shoulder just like she used to lean against mine.

After the meeting I bumped into a friend who is also about to marry off his second daughter. He nodded toward the hankie in my hand and smiled knowingly. No words were spoken. No words were needed. When you're the father of the bride again you just know.

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--- © Joseph Walker

http://www.sfpnn.com/joseph_walker1.htm

 

Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.