Wedding – Lowell’s Lecture and the Father Daughter Dance
When I was a young girl, one lesson my father frequently reprimanded me on was the value of commitments. “You can’t renege on a commitment!” he’d bark at me, “You can NOT renege on a commitment!” This usually happened when I was trying to get out of a bridge game.
I was married before and when that marriage disintegrated, I returned home to stay with my parents. Although I can look back now and see with clarity the correctness of my decisions, it was extremely tough at the time. I cried almost all of the 250 mile drive to Occoquan. And when I finally arrived at my parents’ home, my stomach sank before I walked in the door. Here was this giant commitment getting reneged upon. What commitment could be more important? Most certainly, I would be disappointing my father. I braced myself for the loud opinions that were to come my way.
And I got lectured… but not about commitments. Dad expressed some strong feelings on the importance of happiness and how it isn’t something to forfeit. I cried and cried and cried.
“You only live once,” he said, “You’ve got to do what makes you happy. You’ve GOT to!”
On more than one occasion, Dad would pause his lecture and look at me absolutely dumbfounded. “Why are YOU crying?!?” To him, the situation was so clear-cut. My sadness baffled him.
I would still have internal conflicts and doubts to come, but Dad’s reaction helped immensely. I understand now why he was so opinionated. It’s so easy to see just how much happiness I had been forfeiting.
Since my sophomore year of high school my father always seemed pretty oblivious and indifferent of the comings and goings of my boyfriends. When Ryan Somma came along, my father took an unprecedented interest. And sometimes his attention was a little… awkward… like the time Dad started to grill Ryan with questions.
“Why do you have tattoos?”
“Do you go to church?”
“How are your finances?”
“Do you have a retirement fund?”
“How much is in your savings account?”
“Why did you get a divorce?”
“Did you cheat your wife?”
“Did she cheat on you?”
But then, there were the pleasant surprises.
“Vicky looks so happy,” my father reported to my mother one Thanksgiving, “It’s like night and day.”
Or the time Dad brought out his cellphone and snapped a picture of Ryan and I. He evaluated his work on his phone and smiled. “I had to get a picture of the happiest couple I know,” he explained.
When Ryan proposed, I had a rare occurrence show up in my email inbox. A very sweet, sentimental message from my father. He apparently still felt strongly about happiness. In an eight sentence email, he referred to it four times.
When you contacted me about your last marriage, I could only give general guidance. My advice to you then was that you only live once, and that you have to make the decision what would make you happy. When you are with Ryan I see just happiness. I like Ryan. Forget about the financial background check, as I suggested. You picked the perfect person for happiness. I greatly endorse Ryan to be our to-be-son-in-law. He is a very great person who will give you happiness for the rest of your life.
When it came time to pick a song for the Father Daughter Dance, I selected an accoustic cover of Stand By Me by Jonathan David. My father was by no means the only one who supported me during my divorce. But he was the biggest surprise. I’m where I’m at now and as happy as I am in part because my father knew what was important and stood by me. I certainly hope I can do the same for him.
At the wedding reception, when my father and I stepped out on to the dance floor, the sentiment was much different than the night I was lectured on happiness. No tears were shed and actually there was very little dancing. Instead my father did what he does best– in his animated manner, he told me funny stories.
I laughed and laughed and laughed.
Dad Cracking Me Up (By Liza Franco)