Well, it finally happened. Despite my silent and consistent prayer that God would intercede and render my oldest daughter ten years old again (thereby making her my youngest, her impending marriage illegal (except perhaps in Alabama) and, collaterally, her fiance a creepy pedophile fit to be hunted down with torches and pitchforks), she was married on June 23 here in Tucson. So much adversity stood in the way of her wedding becoming a successful event: it was held outdoors in a Tucson summer (potentially brutal); the chief financier (ahem) was so tight that someone suggested a lump of coal inserted posteriorly could emerge a diamond in two weeks time; and my own personal visions for what an awesome wedding should look like were either ignored completely or dismissed out of hand. And yet somehow, perhaps miraculously, this wedding came off beautifully and was a blessing to all involved.
My primary role with respect to the planning and preparation of my girl’s wedding was that of grunt laborer: loading tables into my truck, hauling them to the site and moving any heavy fixtures my wife and daughter considered unsightly or unseemly away from view. The only job given to me that would show any hint of my good taste and influence on the event was the hanging of lights in the reception area; this task was undertaken with great seriousness and dedication. Clearly, the success or failure of the whole affair hinged upon my ability to transform a darkened courtyard into a wonderland of twinkling lights.
Allow me to seemingly digress at this point by saying that I agree with those that claim the Chinese are not to be trusted. While most would look to the skies and seas for signs of a communist attack on our country, I would submit that it has already begun; the initial weapon of choice that they have employed to defeat us with is the Christmas light strand, made, of course, in China. Because I am no dummy, I would test each strand before painstakingly hanging them in attractively descending arcs across the courtyard or twisting them in perfectly congruent circles around each post of the courtyard patio. When I plugged them in again, however, inexplicably a half strand here or there would fail to light. After a half hour of checking tiny bulbs and replacing tinier fuses, all to no avail, I would have to replace the entire strand. This happened several times; I climbed more ladders than a chimney sweep with Alzheimer’s. I could almost see the Chinese generals in their war room, clad in their tan uniforms with red stars on the shoulders, watching me through the cameras of a spy satellite:
“Hahaha! Rook! He prug in rights and dey work, but wait!…Hahaha! See? He hang up rights and now no work; man go crazy! What a rooser! Ahahaha!” Pretty soon he kirr whore town and himsairf! Pran working!” – Please understand that my only intent here is humor; I hold the Chinese people in the highest regard and in no way intend to impugn their character, assign stereotypical speech patterns to an entire race or imply that they, as a people, are innately more evil than the rest of us. There. My wife wanted me to take it out; no.
I endeavored to persevere in the face of insidious Red Plague, however, and by the time I was done I’d hung over four thousand lights. Thankfully, they lasted through the whole reception. Another victory for God, democracy and the American way.
The day before the wedding, preparations began in earnest, and it was hot – 109F – without even a wisp of a breeze; we began to really worry about the weather becoming the overriding factor of the wedding. The ceremony would be held at 6:30pm in an open field with no shade; teetering groomsmen, fainting bridesmaids, projectile-vomiting fathers and dying old folks became increasingly a real possibility. While this scenario would allow the event to attain the lofty goal of becoming “Truly a Wedding to Remember” (for those that survived), it was fairly unanimously seen as being potentially a bad thing. The high temperature on her wedding day was a comparatively frigid 105F, however, and as the time approached for the wedding to begin and people arrived and were seated, storms had developed over the mountains to the east and a nice, consistent breeze washed over the assembly. While one couldn’t call it cool, the weather was nicer than we could have hoped for and the heat was never a factor.
And then it began. Weddings, it would seem, tend to be all about the bride and, to a much lesser extent, her groom. The sole purpose of the father of the bride is to waddle alongside her to the altar, looking old, fat and haggard next to her in all her radiant beauty; then he passes her on to a far younger, more dashing and apparently more capable protector/man. It’s a changing of the guard, a forced retirement ceremony of sorts and, upon fulfilling the role of ancient, comparatively sad and emasculated male, the father shuffles off to sit, never to be seen or heard from again. He is left to wither and die, like a spawned salmon. I played the part.
As I sat next to my wife after having given my daughter away, I had intended to wallow in self-pity and silent loathing for those responsible for my plight; instead, I found myself captivated by the proceedings. My daughter, always breathtaking (thank God for recessive genes) and now more beautiful than ever, was getting married; her husband to be, solemnly respectful in the moment, was teary-eyed; the man officiating (my daughter’s youth pastor growing up) spoke from the heart, and had to pause to hold back tears himself; a song, played by one of her friends, wafted gently and soothingly over us all while the bride and groom took communion together; and mesquite trees and mountains, awash in light from the setting sun, stood in splendor behind the altar. It was perfect.
In the end, it was perfect. Why? Clearly, because God was involved. Certainly my wife, our daughters and the bridesmaids did their share to make it special: there was a simple, tasteful elegance to it all. (The simple part was my contribution). But all the things that could have sparked disaster – the heat, the storms, the Chinese lights, my wallet pushed way up into my upper colon – were swept aside with a wave of His hand. It was perfect because He was there, and the love that He instills in us for each other was evident for all to see. Finally, the hesitance I’d felt to feel happy and at peace over this marriage was gone. God was in attendance and the Master of Ceremony – I’ve never felt His presence more strongly – and it is that presence that ensured this union was meant to be.
In closing, this for my new, favorite (only) son-in-law: God has blessed you, Luke, with a beautiful, intelligent, sweet-natured bride. Take care of my daughter; only God loves her more than her mom and I, but now maybe you do, too. (I doubt it). I pray His richest blessings for you both, and for a long and happy life together. And for children. Tall ones. With a genetic predisposition for basketball.