Twenty-five years ago last night, I proposed to Mrs. Blather. And as I layed out in horrifying detail in this blog post my beautifully planned, romantic proposal turned into an epic train wreck.
Inexplicably, she said, “yes.” Which immediately made me wonder about her. I, being like Groucho Marx, who once famously said, “I’m not sure I want to belong to a club that would have me as a member.”
Of course, she turned out to be a wonderful person to travel through life with–more than a wife–a best friend. Over the last two-and-a-half decades we’ve managed to live in three states; buy, fix up and sell a half dozen houses; and raise three daughters.
Those daughters are 23, 20 and 18 today. The eldest, previously known on these pages as Female Offspring Unit #1 (FOU#1), had a boyfriend. And a few months ago he called and asked if I was available for morning coffee in the next few days. They had been in a serious courtship for months. He had also been a regular and welcome fixture at our dinner table.
So although I can be a little slow, I’m not that slow. I knew what was up. This handsome, flat-bellied whippersnapper was about to muster the unmitigated gall to ask if he could have my firstborn daughter.
Nevertheless I set the coffee appointment and feigned cluelessness.
There was no question as to what my answer would be. Mrs. Blather and I had agreed on numerous occasions that we really, really liked this guy. He clearly loved God. He clearly loved her. And we agreed that should their relationship progress to the point at which marriage was considered, they would have our whole-hearted blessing.
And now it seemed that day was upon me. That blessing was about to be called for.
He asked. But I didn’t put him out of his misery immediately.
I began by describing what it’s like to be the father of a daughter. To hold that baby in your arms and feel for the first time the full weight of the stewardship responsibility.
I described how on numerous occasions when she’s small and vulnerable and dependent . . . you suddenly realize a day will come in which you hand her off to another man. And how unthinkable and strange a concept that seems . . .
How as the baby becomes the little girl, you love being her hero. Her Solomon whose vast brain holds all the answers to her questions . . . questions about where birds go when it rains . . . or how something cold can burn your skin . . . and other mysteries of the universe. To be her Samson with the strength to lift any burden and fix all things broken . . .
To be the one she flys to when you walk in the door at the end of the day. To look into little brown eyes set in a face shaped just like yours and see nothing but trust and admiration.
To be her first dance partner . . .
I described what it’s like to think about the young man she would one day choose. To know that he was out there, somewhere, right now. To wonder how on earth there could possibly be a worthy boy who could make it to adulthood unscathed and undefiled in this nihilistic, porn-soaked, divorce-ravaged culture.
Will the one she chooses treat her as I’ve endeavored, imperfectly, to treat her mother? With gentleness and faithfulness and selflessness and honor?
“You wonder about these things,” I told him. So you pray. You pray into your daughter’s future. And you lift up that nameless boy to heaven and pray with all your strength that God will place His hand of kindness upon him. That He will draw that boy to Him with relentless, tenacious cords of mercy. And hold him by the scruff of the neck when necessary.
“In other words,” I told him, “Your hope is that when it comes time to choose, that she will choose well.”
The young man nodded, swallowed hard and waited for the verdict.
“Her mother and I believe she has chosen well,” I said. “We love you. We believe in you. Of course, you have our blessing.”
Indeed on numerous occasions Mrs. Blather and I have remarked that this young man has become in many ways the son we never had and the brother our other girls never knew they wanted. A faithful God has answered our prayers.
And as the wedding approaches, we take some solace in knowing that Jesus’ “leave and cleave” mandate falls to the husband, not the wife. (For a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife . . .”) And that this phenomenon is at the root of the old Jewish saying, “A son is a son ’til he’s married, but a daughter’s a daughter for life.”
So yes, my blessing was extended. And then a few months later on a cold late winter night, this happened . . .
This was offered and accepted.
Today preparations are well underway. Both budget and preference are making this a very small, intimate ceremony.
And so it goes. She’s still officially mine for a short while longer. But a handoff of this magnitude doesn’t happen in a day. A heart doesn’t change stewards in an evening. It moves in increments and by degrees. And whether I’m ready or not, this once-and-for-all transfer of residence of one wonderful girl’s heart has already begun. So . . .
Love her well and true, young man. I have. I do.