Father Of The Bride
The center aisle at church this Sunday morning looked a lot longer than I remember it being.
It might have something to do with a phone call I got the night before. It was my daughter, Alyssa, telling me that she is engaged to be married to her boyfriend, Brian.
Mom and Dad could not be happier. We have watched as their relationship grew, surviving good times and bad. They lasted through a lengthy separation brought on when Alyssa spent a college semester in London. They picked up in mid-step upon her return. Brian accepts the weirdness that is our family and survived the gentle hazing of potential future in-laws at several previous gatherings of our clan. He's a Packers fan, being from DePere, and is a computer whiz: this very blog is being written on my elderly home desk-top, a machine I would've tossed onto the digital ash-heap had Brian not laid hands upon it's balky hard drive and brought it back to life.
NFL loyalties and computer prowess aside, a father can ask only that his daughter's future husband make her happy and treat her with respect. Brian excels at both, so the bride's parents are more than satisfied.
I've served in but a handful of weddings over the course of my life. I was an usher many years ago when a cousin got married. I recently did the readings at my nephew's nuptials. I've never been a groomsman, or a best man. Nor have a been the father of a bride. I've heard there's something about a hefty tab at the end of all this, and people are already asking me if I've landed a second job or picked which bank I'm going to need to knock over.
No date is set, which gives me time to fatten up my savings account. It also means the aforementioned aisle has weeks and months to grow. By the time I'm standing at the end of it with Alyssa on my arm, it'll look like it stretches from here to Madison. I'm not a gifted athlete, which means I could easily trip over something as insignificant as a flat Kleenex on the floor. I'm not the most thorough dresser, either, having once done a Sunday mass reading with my fly down (a mistake not discovered til I returned to my seat).
I'm also quite a softie. I can cry at the end of a dog food commercial. I could be a weepy mess within the first couple of notes of The Wedding March. especially if I let my mind wander about how we got to the big day. I won't think of the little girl on her first day of school, or of the father/daughter dance we did when she was but a peanut at her ballet class. I won't dwell on the nightly tuck-ins or the summer afternoons dropping her endlessly down the backyard slide. I'll think instead about how good marriage has been for her mom and dad, how well two people who respect each other can spend a life. If they're really lucky, they get a neat kid who grows into a bright young lady who has a shot at happiness together with the person of her own choosing.
What dad wouldn't smile about that?