Sunday, August 24, 2014

Father of the Bride

At year's end, more than one friend observed that 2014 would be a big year for Deb and me. We looked forward to the birth of our first grandchild and to the wedding of our daughter. Theodore Irving arrived on May 16th. Yesterday, I walked my princess down the aisle after we were delivered to the ceremonial site by horse drawn carriage. 

As predicted by Rabbi Norman Cohen during the service, I will blog more about the experience once I've had the opportunity to let the emotions of my daughter's wedding settle a bit. As was the case with the birth of my children and my grandson, no discussion or contemplation prepared me for the waves of joyous emotion that washed over me all weekend long.

In the meantime, by request, I'm publishing my Father of the Bride speech and a few snaps taken by friends George Dow and Ron Levitus. Talk to you soon.

Welcome to Meadow Breeze Farm. So many of you have traveled great distances to share this celebration and Deb and I are thrilled to have you join us at our home. Ellie wanted a meaningful venue for her once in a lifetime ceremony and, as usual, her sense of style, and her determination, were unstoppable. 

I’ve often thought, during years of traveling to Arizona, that I’m lucky enough to experience and appreciate the beauty of both the desert southwest and the majesty of Minnesota’s lushness. I hope that our visitors this weekend have had the opportunity to appreciate the magnificence of our northern greenery as well as the moderate summer temperatures. Minnesotans call this “hotter than Hell”, but, if you ask Garrison Keillor, he’ll tell you we never go there to actually compare.
Before I address Matthew and Ellie, I need to thank my bride, Deb, for all of her hard work creating our wedding site. Thank you, too, from the bottom of our hearts to EVERYONE who contributed so much. Chupah building, flower arranging, garden watering, barn painting, DVD burning. It was a labor of love to honor Matt and Ellie by so many. Thank you.
Ellie, this is the hardest speech I’ve ever had to write and deliver. Fortunately, it’s the last one I’ll ever need to deliver. After the bar and bat mitzvahs and the weddings, no one needs to hear from the Papa. Even if I end up writing another political speech someday, someone else will do the talking. I’ve always been a staff guy.
Because it’s the last, I wanted it to be perfect, somehow discernable between my sobs. Because you’re my precious daughter, I want it to be perfect as I tell all your friends and expanded family how much I love you, how proud I am of you and how happy I am that you and Matthew have found one another.

You are named, in part, after my grandmother, my beloved Nana. You share her beauty, intelligence, independence, drive, passion, love of style and spunk. Watching you grow up, it’s always seemed like a do-over for your namesake. She would be so proud of you and the loving and adventurous young lady, with an appreciation for beauty, that you’ve become. I am so thankful that you have grown up to bestow the honor on your namesake that I intended. While I never met Mom’s grandmother, Bertha Elizabeth, from whom you take your first name, I’ve heard enough stories about her loving and caring soul and devotion to family to know that you’ve honored her has well.

Matthew, welcome to the family. I hope I’ve already given you some sense of how thrilled I am to have you as my son-in-law. They say that girls grow up to pick a husband that reminds them of their daddy. Imagine my delight that Ellie thinks I’m a tall, thin, handsome, conservative, sports fan with a full head of hair.
I have no secrets for the two of you as you start your married life together. All the advice is out of the bag, on the Internet, broadcast by Dr. Phil, and in print for inquiring minds. Love and respect one another. Understand that you are each unique and nurture the personalities in one another that attracted you to your mate in the first place. You respect one another enough to commit to spending the rest of your lives together. Build on that respect and lean on one another when challenges arise.  Neither of you can be expected to behave in perfect lockstep with the ideal imagined by the other. That’s okay. NEITHER of you will behave ideally all the time. Cut some slack to be given slack.

Your parents have more than 70 years of marriage between them. We’ll tell you that it’s not all horse-drawn carriages and 30-year-old Scotch. And we’ll tell you not to drive one after drinking the other. But, personally, I can tell you that there is no greater joy in life than being in a relationship where the goal of your partner’s complete happiness serves as your guide. It requires sacrifice on both your parts, honoring the commitment implicit in your vows. Sometimes you have to muck a few stalls. Every morning. But the payoff is priceless. Being part of your loved one’s dream come true is as good as it gets, better than a 10% ROI or a new necklace from Tiffany’s. Work on it and enjoy.
Finally, this wasn’t so bad. So, if in about 15 years I’m still around, I’m willing to give a speech at a bar or bat mitzvah celebration, probably after dictating it into my iPad 17.
Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and family. Let’s raise our glasses in a toast to the newlyweds: Elizabeth Pearl was a gift from God and I will always be grateful to have been given the honor of being her father. May God continue to bless her and Matthew, God’s gift to RenĂ©e and Ed, and grant them safety, love, health and happiness all the days of their lives. L’Chaim!