Photo by K. Edwards
I know I’m not alone. Most fathers must feel sentimental when walking their daughters down the aisle. When it was my turn to walk with my Abby, I couldn’t help but remember the best moments of her childhood.
As I stood at the edge of the barn waiting for her, I noticed how very different this beautiful sunny day was from the dark and stormy night that we welcomed her to the world only 22 years earlier.
With her mother in full-blown labor, I raced through a rainstorm to get her to the hospital. But we made it in time, and our baby girl arrived happy, healthy and as beautiful as the woman who walked toward me in her flowing white wedding dress.
Photo by E. Edwards
Abby took my arm, and then we stepped forward. I thought of the day when she was 4 or 5 and I found her halfway down our driveway with her tiny arms folded, a small bag by her side and her bottom lip stuck way out.
“What’s wrong, Ab?”
“I’m ‘wunning away,” she said in a serious voice.
“Running away? Why?” I asked.
“Because I’m going to be an actor in New York,” she replied.
I needed to buy time. “But don’t you want to eat a little something with me before you leave?”
She stood there thinking for a moment and then, without saying a word, slowly grabbed my hand and climbed up in the seat next to me. Thankfully, with the help of her mother’s cooking, New York would have to wait a few years, just as all our friends and family now waited for us to finish our procession.
[pullquote] I knew this boy had surpassed me as caretaker of my daughter’s heart. [/pullquote]
We approached the arbor and the smiling young man who was the most eager for us to arrive. I recalled the moment I first realized that this young man—Jeremiah (or J for short)—had replaced me as the best man in my daughter’s life. It was during her junior year of college. Her right lung suddenly collapsed, and she had to have emergency surgery. Her mother and I jumped in the car and drove nine hours through the night to be with her.
In the recovery room, I leaned over Abby’s bed so she could see me when she woke up. I remember how she opened her eyes, blinked a few times, and then softly asked, “Where’s J?” Then and there, I knew this boy had surpassed me as caretaker of my daughter’s heart.
But J had long before won my approval. He clearly cherished my daughter as the God-given gem I knew she was from the moment she was born. The preacher started the service, and I took a seat in the front row next to her mother, the woman who also walked down an aisle to give me a life full of happiness.
A few hours later, we escorted the newlyweds to their car. As Abby hugged me and thanked me, I thought about asking her if she wanted to eat a little something with me before she left.
Of course, I didn’t. She wasn’t running away but going toward something wonderful. Our walk was a wedding present from Abby to assure me I will always have a place in her life. Without a doubt, it was a walk I’ll always remember.