I write you this not because any of it is alien or new or alien, but that it may be a lasting testament for you and yours. I admit that it’s the longer route; I’m usually more able with two chairs and a round-table. But I understand that as the music fades, butterflies hibernate and emotions begin to rise, this note may bode better than a flood of spoken word.
I must congratulate you on the occasion of your wedding. Fine gentleman you got yourself; your mom is both delighted and relived. If anything, she’s ‘rid’ of the competition and can now boldly parade herself as my undisputed ‘number 1’ again. She was extremely eager to lay claim to you in the days following your birth. You obviously had her eyes. But then, as time passed and your smile got more defined, fact and truth traded places. You and I were knit from the same yarn.
You’ve always been incredibly special to me, dear daughter. From the minute you were born to my coming to terms with ‘losing’ you to another man, you and I have enjoyed an inspired connection. Your mom and I have dreamt of this moment from long before we care to admit. We fantasized about the kind of man you would marry – and those thoughts flavoured our disposition to much of the male company you’ve kept over the years (even the ‘innocent’ classmates).
It’s now safe to admit that a lot of our fantasies were ‘selfish’ and the worry excessive. It may not have been obvious before now, but we’re merely human and extremely fallible after all. We have now reached and crossed that dreaded bridge – and we couldn’t be prouder of the choices you’ve made. Still, as is norm with me, I would like a moment to go over the basics.
As big a fan of technology as I’ve always been, the gender-change option was not one I ever considered pursuing. As such, I’ve only known life from the male viewpoint. Whatever I haven’t learnt about womenfolk from your mother, I’ve been left to build theories around. One of such is how I would choose a man, were I in your shoes.
You did say he was your father and brother at the traditional ceremony? Or was I reading my own mind again? Your husband should be the one man you’d be proud to ‘replace’ your father and brothers with.
You’ve been blessed with warmth on all sides – more so from your father and brothers. I would, therefore, think that any man you decide to be eternally bound to should prove a worthy substitute for the one(s) who previously ran the show. It’s not uncommon for a father to set financial and societal standards for prospective sons-in-law. But wouldn’t that be blatant injustice – seeing as I’ve had many years to be who and what I now am?
Not all ‘great’ fathers were born great. Your mom’s father had eight houses when we got married. The only structures I had built at the time were grammatical ones. You know more than most how much has changed since then.
It’s a funny place, this life; tables turn and fortunes can flee. So, it’s dangerous to build a future solely on assurances of the moment. Still, if there were any metric by which potential is compared with reality, I implore you to put such to use. And the potential you now see, you must never tire to nurse.
You’ll marvel at the seemingly trivial things an old man spends time pondering. The symbolism of a father handing his precious daughter to an eager young man was lost on me in my day. But I’ve now had many years to think it over, and I finally get it. It marked the end of an era. You’re in another man’s territory now – and I must embrace my new role as a third party.
I see that telling look on your face as you turn to leave. It’s how you’ve always communicated mixed feelings. I can almost see a tear; probably just my eyes. We know how much you loved your time here. But you must realise that somebody built this home into what we’ve all come to love. You have to build yours as well. There’s a lot a doting father could help his beloved daughter with; sadly, building a home is not one of them.
You’ll find a whole new dimension in marriage, despite all your academic laurels. For every one thing you now know, there’ll be five more to learn. It’ll push you on many levels; you’ll constantly be faced with a choice between what’s ‘right’ and what works. It’ll be hard and confusing; you’ll often want to quit – but there’s no pride in ‘almost’. Do your best to stay the course.
You must think that you have yourself the perfect father, but nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve made many mistakes in my day – even with raising you. But your mother’s unrivaled ability to forgive kept it all from you. Be such a woman to your husband.
Be careful not to make him look bad. In fact, if it came down to a choice between his image and mine, awkward as it may seem, you have my blessing to put him first. Your mother will tell you how jealously I guard my reputation, but you are my daughter and I must forgive you – no matter how hard it may seem at first.
I’ve fought many battles to keep you safe, dear daughter. A few, you witnessed; many more, in silence. There was never a giant big enough nor foe scary enough once it was about you. I must admit now, however, that the one man I cannot protect you from is your husband. So, tread carefully, act wisely and speak softly. In every man is a king and a fool. Recognize them – and pick your ally. Even he cannot do this for you.
On days when it seems only I could figure you out, remember, dear daughter, that we’ve had over two decades to build what we now have. Never don’t rush to pull the plug. Imagine that you had disowned me when I forgot your birthday, didn’t make your piano recital or refused to sanction that holiday travel. Whatever the hurt, you’ll feel better in 20 years.
Your mom kept pinching me as we watched you dance today. She says I infected you with my dancing. But even I know I would have struggled to keep up with you in my prime. Pardon my pettiness; I couldn’t help noticing we were in church. Was that a random choice, for want of alternatives – or because you really subscribe to the church’s understanding of marriage? If it be the last, then let your compliance be complete as you seek guidance in the holy book. Whatever cannot be resolved between you two was not meant to be resolved. Keep twitter out of it. Its court of arbitration is full of people with no credible experience.
I say again; whatever cannot be resolved between you three was not meant to be resolved. You know who that third member is. You’ll know who that third member is. He’ll accompany you where the love of a father cannot. He’ll find you where the eyes of a father cannot and strengthen you when the arms of a father cannot. Into His mighty hands I commend you, dear daughter. May He keep you as He has kept us.