Originally written and published in 2010
Summer – 1980
In early November I will do what all fathers of little girls dream of doing – walking their sweetie down the aisle at her wedding.
I’ve done it before with my younger daughter who married in 2006. She’s been lucky in love. She found her perfect match while in college – a young man who loves her, treats her as an equal and would take a bullet for her. It’s now the turn of my eldest.
She is now 33 and will marry for the first time. He is a couple of years younger than her. Their love was the kind you find where you least expect it.
I have been very lucky in love notwithstanding that I’m 5’7″ tall, was skinny and non-athletic as a youth, wore glasses and wasn’t from money.
I met my future wife in a neighborhood ice-cream “parlor” in early 1963. I was with some friends, all around twenty. Seated at a booth were six younger girls, high school seniors mostly, One of the guys in our group knew all of them and made intros all around. We talked, drank sodas, talked of jobs and college and said good night. How quaint it all seems now. Three months later I entered the same soda joint alone. One of the girls from the table was exiting. She remembered my name. I didn’’t remember hers.
I wound up taking her to her Senior Prom, married her that December over the frantic objections of our parents and we stayed happy for 40 years. We had four kids together, buried two of them together and then I buried her.
We were always friends. She was my best friend.
My eldest daughter was our third child, born in January 1977 in Charlotte N. C. on one of the coldest nights in Carolina history. We previously had two sons. One died in infancy after being born with a perforated colon. The second boy, Michael, was profoundly disabled and lived to be ten years old. Daughter number one came into the world after months of agony on our part. After all we were two time losers in having healthy children. After many tests, doctors assured us everything seemed ok and that my wife was carrying a girl.
Her birth was a joy for two people who didn’t know how other people had healthy children. As a baby I would dance her around in my arms to the tune of “You’re a Rich Girl!” by Hall and Oates. Of course she wasn’t but it made no difference to giggling baby girl. Two years later we had daughter number two.
“Daddy, who’s your favorite?” “You’re my favorite big girl and you’re my favorite little girl!” was the diplomatic response.
I watched my two daughters grow up. My wife taught them important life lessons – that they needed to be able to support themselves – to have self respect and to treat others the way you expected to be treated. They were ready for their senior high school and college years.
One morning I found a round compact on the bathroom sink…..”Honey! What are these?” Stupid me. “Those are your baby’s birth control pills” came the smiling reply as she snatched the compact out of my hand. Too much information. “Tell me its for her complexion!” was my response.
They grew up well. No unwanted pregnancies. No slamming of doors – well not too many. No drugs. No excessive alcohol although daughter #1 drank her share of beer at Rutgers. No drama.
The nights came when they each called and told us that they would be “staying over” at so and so’s house. No big deal. The time always arrives. They were old enough. My wife raised them well and we trusted their judgements.
Daughter #1 went through a couple of guys she “loved” that treated her like dirt. I hurt for her but there was little I could do. She eventually got over them and learned something in the process. After her mother died she decided to go to law school. She graduated with honors and now is a prosecutor in the state where she lives. She works domestic violence cases and with battered women.
While in school and getting ready for graduation a not her type classmate (at least I thought so) casually asked her to come to his graduation party. She texted me from the party “I’ve been had!” and noted that she was the only non-family member there. My response? Either he is gay and you’re his cover or ….. he likes you. and it was his way of asking you out without the pressure of “asking you out”.
He treated her like a person. They continued “dating” and got to be friends….then lovers. They live together and are happy. After graduation, they studied for the Bar exam together and took it together. They both passed.
I like him. He’s a young man with an old soul. He’s made my daughter very happy. Last Thanksgiving he quietly asked me for her hand. Maybe my daughter suggested to him it was something he should do but he did it. If he did it because she asked all the better. He popped the question while they visited the Christmas Santa. The picture of the three of them is priceless!
After her experiences with past boyfriends, my girl had given up on the idea of a life and love like the life and love her parents had. “Its not that way anymore pops”. I would reply to her, without much confidence, that she would find love when and where she least expected it. I’m sure she thought to herself “Sure pops”.
And that’s the way it has turned out.
So this close to 70 old gray haired guy will do again what many others don’t get to do – walk the little girl he once held in his arms down the aisle knowing that her husband is now the most important man in her life.I will have done the last significant thing I have to do.
Who could have known how it would turn out when that lovely high school senior with the brown hair and the beautiful blue green eyes said “Hi!” to me on that Saturday so long ago? Who could have predicted how it would turn out when my future son-in-law said to my daughter “Hey, want to come to my graduation party?”
And when I dance the father-daughter dance at the wedding I wonder if she will pick “Rich Girl”?
(P. S. – She did.)
An excerpt from “Toritto’s Blog – A Memoir of a Life in Posts”