Nov. 17, 2007
Our lives have been pointing to this day for a long time. From the moment we first met at Meese Hospital in Dunedin, Fla., like every father, I expected that some day I would give you to another man.
That's not a given these days. Conventional marriage, memorialized in the couple on top of a multi-tiered cake, hasn't totally fallen out of favor, but it's a life path that many don't choose to follow.
In your case, like many of your generation, you're getting wed a bit later in life than did your parents. Some friends our age say they wonder if their children will ever get married.
It's a quaint notion that a father "gives away" his daughter. It's a holdover from days when a young woman lived under her father's roof until her wedding day. With the exception of vacations from college and a stint while you taught at St. Anne School for a semester, you haven't lived under our roof since high school.
Indeed, several of those intervening years were spent in Europe, Asia or Africa. In the interim, you picked up a couple of new languages, survived two surgeries, were almost knocked down by silver back gorilla on a mountain in Rwanda and won the heart of a handsome young Navy officer you met in Cyprus.
Your mother and I used to joke that the practice of arranged marriages ought to be revived, but we couldn't have picked a better match. Like you, your fiancé has a spirit of adventure and an appetite for learning about new cultures. It's unlikely that either of you will be content with a 9-to-5 job, two cars and a long commute. Whatever the future holds, you will have great stories to tell your grandchildren.
We liked your intended from the first time you brought him home, but he made extra points with your dad when he called and said he wanted my blessing to ask for your hand. Your mother's approval was cemented after you described how he proposed -- by moonlight, on the steps of the U.S Capitol. You can't go wrong with a guy who respects tradition and knows how a little romance can move a relationship along.
You both work for Uncle Sam and will reside in "the District." Your countrymen who are cynical about public service deride those who work or live inside the Beltway, but you both give the lie to such cynicism. Both of you have served your country in parts of this world where just being an American can put one in harm's way. Like thousands of fellow public servants, you go about your job quietly, without making headlines or CNN.
When you went off to college, I wrote a column that you come from a line of people who never made a lot of money but who gave back to their community. Your husband comes from a similar background. His parents are as proud of him as we are of you.
That his mother is a school teacher makes him more than OK with a lot of Plumbs, past and present. That his dad came to America, from Cuba, as a youngster means he shares a lot in common with your maternal mother's family, who emigrated from Sicily.
That your in-laws joined the Peace Corps upon retirement means that the first requirement in this new extended family of ours will be a current passport.
As father of the bride, it's incumbent upon me to issue sage advice about achieving success in marriage. I hate to disappoint, but you know as well as I that marriage is like any other relationship: You have to work at it every day.
Some days will be better than others, but when you love someone who shares the same beliefs and values, marriage can be the most fulfilling experience of your life.
Some say her wedding day is the greatest day in a woman's life. I recommend you think of it as the opening curtain of a great play.
Break a leg.