Posted by: rongeri | July 10, 2011

Some Thoughts On My Mind: A Dad and His Daughter

September has alwayso been a special month for us because that’s the month in which our princess Kimberly was born. And whether she was a little girl here at home playing with her brother Michael in the backyard , or off in school at Yale, or working with the United States Golf Association in Colorado Springs, or with the First Tee of Greater Seattle, we have always tried to reach out to her with a lot of special love on her birthday. This year, September will mark another milestone. Not just her birthday on the calendar, but in future years it will also be an anniversary month for her moving from Miss/Ms. to Mrs. and becoming a wife.

And in 2012, by the time she and Sean celebrate their first wedding anniversary, Geri and I will have celebrated a wedding anniversary number that is a substantial multiple of that. When Sean and Kim reach the multiple anniversary milestone Geri and I will reach next year, and someone asks them how long they have been married, I hope they will be able to give the same answer that I give when asked that question: “It seems like we have been married less than a year because we are still on the honeymoon.”

And naturally like any loving dad, I have– among other things–been thinking about walking her down the aisle. In fact, I have been thinking about it since December 2010 when Kim asked us (Geri, Mike, my sister Mary, and me) to go with her to look at wedding dresses. (I planned to just sit in the car, but that hideout was not permitted.) And when she came out of the dressing room wearing the wedding dress she had decided on, I discovered that bridal places have an extraordinarily high level of allergy triggering things in the air, which causes a father’s eyes to start to “leak.” After several of the salesladies looked at me and started dabbing at their eyes and shared a box of tissues, I reconsidered asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to look into this since the leaking was not limited to a dad. Since the eye leak condition has not reoccurred, I have not requested environmental air sampling. However, in the event that my proximity to Kim’s wedding dress triggers a reoccurrence of the leaking eye condition when walking Kim down the aisle, I may have to consider legal action against the manufacturer of the dress for failure to give an adequate warning notice to the father of the bride.

 And because I love music and am a musician at heart, I did s0me research and learned about the real origins of the two versions of “Here Comes The Bride” And I also started thinking about the song “When You Love”, and I think it applies to Kim and her fiancé Sean: “Life is lovely, oh so lovely, life is lovely when you love. It’s exciting and inviting, life is lovely when you love. Love is patient, love is kind, and love is the key to life’s peace of mind. Oh it’s exciting when you love. Be inspired, so inspired, be inspired when you love. Be inspired, heart on fire, be inspired when you love. Write them a poem or sing them a song, draw them a painting, walk arm in arm. Be inspired when you love. Be romantic, so romantic, be romantic when you love. Be romantic, so romantic, be romantic when you love. Draw in the sand or write in the sky, tell them you’ll love them ’til the day that you’ll die. So be romantic when you love. Be committed, so committed, be committed when you love. Be committed and stick with it, be committed when you love. Go get a preacher, go get a singer, go put a diamond ring on her finger, be committed when you love. Let them find out. Let them find out, Let them find out when you love. Take the time out, and let them find out when you love. If you love them, why don’t you tell them. Give them flowers while they can smell them. And let them find out, let them find out, take the time out, take the time out, and let them find out, when you love.” Let’s see. Romantic (Yes, date night every week.) Flowers (Yes, every week. Sometimes fresh. Sometimes artificial ). Walk arm in arm. (Yes). Diamond (and sapphire) ring on her finger.

Yes. Sean gave the ring to Kim, the day after he called me to ask for her hand in marriage. And I am thought about the photo of Geri’s hand with the diamond ring I gave her when we got engaged.

Reflecting back on when Geri and I got married, I guess, in part, it was either plain old stubbornness or rebellion on my part against some of the traditional words in the ceremony (e. g love, honor and “obey”‘; pets obey, not partners), that lead me to write our own wedding vows and change or omit phrases that just didn’t fit who I felt Geri and I were. Using her prolific editing skills, Geri marked up my earlier drafts so that it looked like a printers proof from a prospectus that had been reviewed by a team of securities lawyers before final proof was approved. And of course, Rev. Harper had to be comfortable with it. And though it varied from the traditional ceremony utilized by the CME’s, he was able to accommodate the Ron-Geri marriage vow text. And because we wrote the vows (we changed “from death do us part” to “until we are parted by God’s will”), the words meant more to us. (I may have been impacted by residual memories of the samba music and film Black Orpheus, but to us the latter phrase encompassed more longevity than the former).

But back to walking the bride down the aisle. After we were married Geri told me that when her dad walked her down the aisle he said to her “One of us is shaking!” Well if Geri was the “shaker” and her dad was the “shakee”, I will now confess to my own “shaking” moment at the ceremony. It’s a good thing the best man grabbed my elbow when “Here Comes the Bride” started playing, because Geri was so breathtakingly beautiful she took my breath away and I looked as though I had stopped breathing! While holding me up by the elbow he also whispered, “Ron, breathe!”

In the so-called traditional wedding, after the bride walks down the aisle with her dad, and after some other intonations, the minister asks “Who gives this woman to be married?” That is a tough question, badly phrased. One source says, “the usage of the word ‘ gives’ comes from a time when a woman was considered to be her father’s responsibility until she married. At this point the father was then ‘giving’ that responsibility to her new husband. So, I hope that some variation of that question can be accommodated, such as “Who presents this woman to be married?” To that question, a whole lot of answers could be given by one or by many, ranging from “We do” by her immediate family as well as uncles and aunts, etc. to “She presents herself with her family’s blessing”. (And in this age of parity, why is it that no one traditionally asks “Who present this man to be married?)

And that started me thinking about things that I have given away or that other people have. To date there is nothing extraordinary on the list. My “give a ways” include but are not limited to:

 An Old toy truck and an old bike.

 Food for the church pantry.

 Clothes to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

 An old car that no longer ran.

I have even given myself away, at least in church singing that song from the As We Worship album by William McDowell. And I know of other people who have given away samples, secrets, puppies and kittens and mittens, free advice, as well as “stuff” when they move. There are even websites, e.g. The Freecycle Network, GIVINGAND GETTING, FreeNapkin, etc., where people give things away.

You give things away that you no longer have any use for, that you have outgrown in size or function, or that could be better used by someone else. And outside the material object context, I have given my heart away to people that I love, and I have given gifts to friends, family, and colleagues. I have also given blood during blood drives. But of all the things I have given away, or been asked to give, there is one that is beyond my capacity to give away, and that is my beloved daughter, our princess, Kimberly. . A daughter is not like old clothes, toys, food, or a car you give away. Giving a person away just strikes me as an impossible expression, like giving away a body part, or your heart, or brain, or soul. And there is something about that phrase “”give away” that is incongruent with the Dad in me. And the lawyer in me rebels at the thought of “giving away” what one does not own. Okay, now that I have beat that point to death, I can get to the bottom line, or in this case, the heart of the matter. I have reflected on Sean’s and Kim’s engagement photos
, and on a photo of Geri and her dad on our wedding day, a photo of when Geri and I got married, and I have looked at a picture of my mom and dad on their wedding day. And I am at peace, contented, happy and blessed because as I look at those pictures and think about Sean’s and Kim’s wedding day, I feel and know they too are a couple sharing a deep love, a continuity of caring, commitment, the ability to respond to challenge and change, a rock solid faith, and the application of the wisdom found in Colossians 3:12-17.
Regardless of what words are said at their wedding, and regardless of whether we present Kim or “give her

away”, I know that we are not losing a daughter but gaining a son-in law .

I believe my prayer has been answered that my princess would find someone who would be her best friend, who would treat her in the special way that only comes when you are blessed and have your own prayers answered by the Lord, who, in the words of the Temptation’s song, will always “Treat Her Like A Lady” and who is what the saints of the church would call a “God-fearing” man. And I don’t think it was coincidence that as I thought about this blog, yesterday I read these words in Ann Spangler’s book Praying The Names of Jesus: “Aristotle once remarked that a friend is a single soul in two bodies, meaning that friendship is based on a unity of mind and heart between two people.” And to borrow a phrase from an epic movie, “so let it be written, so let it be done” with blessings, and hands lifted up in praise, thanks, and worship. The following are in that spirit : “We lift our hands in the sanctuary”; The Yale Gospel Choir singing “Praise Him” and “We Sing Praises”; “How Great Is Our God” and” Our God is Greater” And to use three words my friend Jeannine LaRue said to me when I recently asked her to lift something up in prayer, ‘I CLAIM IT!”

And regardless of whether she is wearing an elaborate gown and standing in front of a fantasy castle, , or wearing a tiara, or a wedding dress and veil, going natural, or wearing a golf cap with a logo on it , a daughter always occupies a special place in her dad’s heart.

And in conclusion I found myself drawn to two books that I received as presents. One was “Daughters of Men: Portraits of African-American Women and Their Fathers” and the other was “Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family”. In the latter book, I found a quote that caught my eye and grabbed my heart: “Daughters Never Stop Needing Their Dads.” Amen, amen, and amen.

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