Few things can leave as deep of an impression on a fathers heart as giving away his daughter. Im still in awe of the entire event.
Standing to the right of the beautiful woman in white, I looked out at the 100 or so steps we needed to traverse. All the guests and the entire bridal party were situated just beyond the small apple orchard we needed to pass through. Then the harpist changed songs. Everyone stood up and turned to face us, and we stepped off smartly.
My daughter was nearly 30, but it seemed like it was just last month when I was helping her make those first few steps. Shes come a long way since those toddler days. However, the high heels working against the straw-covered, earthen path challenged her to remain steady. Clinging to my left arm, she found enough support to prevent any embarrassing spill–that would have been terrible. Meanwhile, my little niece carried the dress train as we moved toward the distant alter. Just minutes ago she was sprinkling the fresh rose pedals onto the path from a large bucket. Precious.
What seemed like a few weeks ago, the woman on my arm was no bigger than her tiny cousin. In those days she was a budding athlete. One day during a church picnic she climbed a 25-foot metal pole. She stayed up there long enough for her mother to start worrying she might be stuck. Thus I climbed a parallel pole just beside of hers. Once close enough to talk I asked her if she was okay. She said, Yes, Im just enjoying the view.
The view from the apple orchard was marvelous. Twenty minutes earlier, the sun had pierced through the cloud coverage and was then bathing everyone in warm sunlight. The slightly stinging breeze had stopped at the same time. No doubt an answered prayer. In addition, everyone was smiling and looking at us. Some folks welled-up as we approached. I fought the urge as a thousand other memories flashed through my mind.
I reminded my daughter of the time when she was about 8 and she stood on the high-dive at the officers club pool until everyone looked at her–then she crawled back to safety without jumping.
This is better than the high-dive, I said.
Im not crawling away this time, she answered.
Under the inspection of a sea of smiling faces I said, Theyre all looking at you, youre beautiful. God must be smiling today.
Her answer was slow in coming and muffled. Must have been something in the air that bothered her throat.
Somehow we made it to the beginning of the chairs. Cameras flashed. Some people sighed. Others sobbed. The harpists played beautifully. Then I saw him.
Him–the man who convinced my daughter to marry him stood there waiting for us to finish walking. Four months earlier he traveled 600 miles to ask me permission to marry my daughter. That took spunk, because nowadays her mother is most everywhere I am.
But he did good. Poured his heart out at our kitchen table and convinced me he loved my daughter as much as I loved my wife. So we gave him our blessings. Then the surprise came. Three weeks later he proposed.
In 21st century America, a man in his 30s asked permission of the parents of a 29 year-old to marry her. And to beat it all, he really meant it. It wasnt just an after the fact idea. This man had real character.
I like him and I feel good about trusting him.
On the closest end of the row of bridesmaids stood my youngest daughter. The maid of honor, wearing a beautiful apple red dress, had tears streaming down her face. She grinned through the salty deluge, needing a tissue I didnt have for her. I had to look away, lest this old bomber pilot get a case of the wet-eye himself.
I stopped us at the first row of chairs, just like the wedding coordinator had briefed me to do. The pastor and the groom stepped forward to close the gap.
Who gives this woman in marriage?
She has an MBA and MCSE. Shes buying a house 600 miles away from mine. She supports herself and shes 29 years old. She was a full-grown, independent adult woman. Nobody, except the Lord, could say they owned her. How could I give her away?
Because she asked me to.
How could I not? There was the man she had waited for almost 30 years. During those years I had prayed for him, though I knew him not. Now I know him a little and Ill continue pray for him, forever. Over the last few months theyd complete a battery of pre-marriage counseling events with the pastor presiding over the ceremony. This couple was much wiser than the brides parents were when they married at 21 and 18. While we survived the shock of married life–these two were doing things smarter–they were planners. Inside my heart, I knew he would be good for her. Hed better be.
Her father does. Thats me.
Then before I gave up my ground, I whispered a few last words into the groom’s ear as father of the little girl. From then on, she would be his woman and he would be her man. My work was done. I just needed to get out of the way. The setting sunlight was bothering my eyes anyway. I took my place next to my sweetheart–the mother of the bride and I watched.
I watched my little girl marry her soul-mate and I will never forget it.
It just makes sense.