Walking my oldest daughter down the aisle for her wedding was exhausting! Never mind the other 23,982 steps my Fitbit recorded that day. Most of the energy was used in the 25 to 30 steps walking down the aisle!
It’s a travesty, really. I mean, who came up with the rule that the dad has to walk his bride-to-be daughter down the aisle anyway? It’s not fair. It’s void of all decency of a civilized society! I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe not.
Two of my four sons are married. In both cases, I didn’t lose a son, but gained a daughter. But somehow it’s different with daughters! You lose your daughter and you get, you get, umm, you get the guy she’s marrying!
It’s like going to a car dealership and trading in a brand new, shiny, 14 carat gold plated Mercedes Benz. In return you get a dented, raggedy old, rusty 1970 Chevy Nova with a leaking transmission. That dog just don’t hunt! You know what I’m saying!?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted with my new son-in-law! I love him as much as I can possibly love a hairy, gaseous guy. In all honesty, he’s a solid young man who I’m delighted to call son! He’s fun. He’s a spark plug of energy. He has an excellent work ethic, and without hesitation, he’s stepped up to the plate. He has solid roots that come from a fantastic family who I am proud to call friends! Most of all, he truly loves my daughter! It’s a good deal!!
But even with all that, is it conceptually right to ask the fathers of the world to take their precious, beautiful daughters – daughters who over the years have cost him an arm in shopping malls, a leg in shoe stores, and three extra work years before he can retire — and then, then make him walk her down the aisle and “give” her away? I think not!
To walk a daughter down the aisle is a lot, a whole lot, to ask! It’s one small step for mankind, one giant leap for daddy man.
The days leading up to the wedding caused me to think ahead, reminisce back. I remember singing to a little girl at bedtime. I remember a colossal battle when she was 9 after she refused to eat green peas. I remember when she finally took her own fish off the hook. There were cross country meets, summer basketball, trying not to show terror while teaching her to drive, school clothes shopping in a hundred stores only to go back to the very first store and buy most everything where we started. I remember a night sitting beside her on the floor by the toilet because she had food poisoning. There was her anxiety before she went in to see if she had been hired for her first job. There was my anxiety when she went to her first prom. So many thoughts. So many memories…
That’s when a brilliant idea hit me like a cast iron frying pan! Just before walking her down the aisle, I could act like I was having an appendix attack and pretend to pass out from pain after rolling around convulsing uncontrollably. For good measure, I’d pop one of the little bottles of bubbles in my mouth that she had for guests to blow when they were leaving for the honeymoon! That’d make me foam at the mouth like a rabid dog! Surely that would halt a wedding cold in its tracks?
The idea didn’t pan out. Someone would just call an ambulance and they’d drag my rear to the hospital, poke, prod and give me a series of rabies shots, and then I’d get a huge hospital bill afterwards. And speaking of money, even if the wedding didn’t happen then, I’d still have to rent the same church and venue again later, so at best, it would only delay the pain. Besides, my appendix was removed in ‘96.
At the appointed hour, the wedding started.
One by one the wedding party started the march inside the church in a steady, calculated cadence. Shawnna and I stepped into place outside the church.
I looked at my daughter. She was radiant. Little tears glistened in the corners of her eyes behind her contented smile.
Before the two front doors of the church swung open, I asked, “Final answer?”
Her dark brown eyes shined when she looked up at me, nodded, and sweetly said, “Final answer.”
It was our final words while she had my last name.
She was so calm and relaxed. On the other hand, I went through a mental checklist. Deep breath, check. Fake smile, check. Suck in my gut, check.
The music every girl loves, every daddy hates, began to play. The front doors opened. Everyone stood and turned.
All of the sudden it seemed like a whimsical dream, floating in the clouds. Everything was warm and peaceful and there was a long, dark tunnel. At the end of tunnel was a shining white light and voice saying, “Walk toward the light, walk toward the light”…Wait! Wait just a minute! Sorry! Wrong story, wrong event! But I’m pretty sure an end of life experience feels the same!
The front doors opened. Everyone stood and turned. There was the aisle. It seemed to stretch forever, and there at the end stood Chevy Nova, wide eyed and grinning.
We made it down the aisle. Shawnna was enjoying the moment, but I used a psychological coping mechanism called disassociation. I simply put my psyche in a different, more comfortable place, one where I was being tortured on a giant mound of fire ants. It was just more pleasant that way!
At the end of the aisle, the preacher’s question slapped me back to reality, “Who gives this bride away?”
That seems like a straightforward question. Nope! Uh-uh! Not at all! I always told my daughters I was going to do something different in my answer. Like, answer in a Gomer Pyle voice. Or maybe go into a Shakespearean diatribe of, “To give away, or not to give away? That is the question!” Even though it was just a joke, kinda, all the girls would give stern warnings not to mess this part up.
The answer is supposed to be two words – two, little bitty words, with only three letters. It’s as short an answer as the English language allows! The answer blunders across my vocal chords.
I place the beautiful Princess’ hand into Chevy’s hand.
Sitting down, my wife gently pats my arm. Tears well up inside, but I shove them back. There will be plenty of time to cry, tomorrow.
Is there a way to remember every detail, sound, sight and word being said? I don’t know.
Vows are exchanged.
Two of my single daughters stand on the left side of the wedding party in bridesmaid’s dresses. On the right side stand my two single sons serving as groomsmen. This isn’t the first wedding for one of the children. It won’t be the last.
On one side of my mind thoughts explode like brain popcorn. I want to grab and hold each thought, each memory, but there are too many, and they’re moving too fast. On the other side of the mind, an oddly calm, gentle breeze is making a new memory, today.
The preacher announces, “Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege and honor to announce to you, “Mr. and Mrs.”
It is finished.
She walks away, back up the same aisle, with a new name, a new adventure, a new life.
She will always be Daddy’s little girl to me, but even so, it will never be the same.