I recently watched Father of the Bride for the first time. I was looking for something to get me excited about the wedding and sometimes wedding films have a certain magical, nostalgic appeal. Mr. C warned me that I would likely cry, and I did. The worst part? When Steve Martin’s character was up late the night before the wedding reminiscing about his daughter’s childhood and her transformation into an adult. I cried, oh I cried. I’m telling you, something about planning a wedding has you constantly on the verge of tears. But apart from that, I am such a daddy’s girl that it hit a very soft spot for me.
Do you sometimes imagine your wedding and try to predict the moments where you will become the most emotional? I think that moment is a toss up between the father-daughter dance and when I will look at my dad before walking down the aisle. How in the world will I overcome such emotional moments without turning into a hot mess of ugly tears and nerves? No one wants to see the bride bawling her eyes out as she walks down the aisle. And the father-daughter dance? Don’t even get me started.
Just after I was born: March 20, 1983.
My dad and I have always been really close and I like to think that all the really awesome parts of me are from my dad’s influence. At a young age he instilled within me a love for history, art, reading, and nature. He has always encouraged me, picked me up when I was down, and helped me develop a healthy self-esteem. He raised me to be a strong, independent woman. Through all my weird phases, he has stood by my side (or on the other end of the phone) and listened as I described the most recent book, TV show, anime, or movie I was obsessing over. He’s always made me feel unconditionally loved and accepted.
My dad knows exactly how to quell the irrational fears and worries that I sometimes manage to conjure up. He finds a way to ground me and make me feel a little more sane and rational. He also gives great advice and he’s always been the best listener. Some men are problem solvers and when they listen they do it with the intent to offer advice and remedies. My dad learned early on that sometimes people just want to talk, and he has always been there to quietly listen and offer his advice only when warranted. And it’s never about him. He never complains about his life or his problems to me. He is kind, gentle, funny (in that pun-using dad sort of way) and he is the reason why I’ve always dated men who treat me with the utmost respect. He’s also the reason I am marrying a man who not only respects me, but who loves me unequivocally for exactly who I am. Through his example he taught me that I should settle for nothing less.
He read to me constantly as a child. I can still vividly remember the books he read to me and I know they all played a pivotal role in turning me into a lifelong reader. The Little Prince, The Secret Garden and The Westing Game were some of my favorites. He encouraged me to wear sneakers with my dress on the first day of school in first grade. He took me to Dragon*Con in middle school so I could meet the actor who played Boba Fett in Star Wars (I still have the autographed poster, by the way). He built me swings and forts in our backyard. He took me to New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. so I could visit some of America’s best museums. He introduced me to Terry Gilliam’s films when I was eleven and I’ve loved the movie Brazil ever since. When I was fifteen he patiently taught me to drive a stick shift (and at the time I hated every minute of it) but to this day I refuse to own an automatic transmission vehicle. He once flew from LA to Atlanta just to load up my mom’s minivan with my friends and me so he could take us to an anime convention in Atlanta. He was recently in Atlanta on a layover (he’s a pilot for Delta Airlines) and he took Mr. C and me to Costco to buy us a grocery cart full of alcohol for our wedding. (By the way, are you getting the gist here that I was an uberdork growing up? Spoiler alert: I’m still an uberdork).
My parents were divorced when I was 13 and my dad moved to California shortly afterwards. That was tough for me, very tough. It felt like I was losing my father. Even at 30 years old, it still doesn’t hurt any less that I missed out on having my dad around when I was a teenager. Even so, he would fly out to Atlanta once every week or so to see me. He still came to my school plays. He got to see me and my friends off before our senior prom. He might not have been around every day, but I was (and still am) thankful that he was in my life, regardless of the difficult circumstances.
With my older brother when we were living in Alabama.
I’m turning 30 tomorrow (I’m serious denial) and he gave me the sweetest card that had me in instant tears. Here’s what he wrote: “A baby cries. ’It’s a girl!’ A man smiles. Heart full of pure and true happiness. Thirty years pass. He still smiles wishing for you all the happiness you deserve. All my love, Dad.” Wow, I can’t even type that out without tearing up!
At Todaiji Temple in Nara, taken when my dad visited me when I was living Japan.
It did not take me long to pick our song for the father-daughter dance. In fact, I’ve had it in the back of my mind for years, even before meeting Mr. C. When I was little, my dad used to sing me to sleep. He’d sing me all sorts of songs, songs that I will hear every so often, and though I don’t remember ever learning the lyrics, I know every word. Among them, “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor, “Waltzing Matilda,” and “I Will” by the Beatles. I’ve always loved “I Will” so much. In fact, I thought it was called the “Miss Camel Song” for most of my early childhood. “I Will” was such a natural, easy choice, even if it is an emotionally charged one! And it’s also rather short, which means I won’t have to suffer through emotional turmoil for long.
Here are the lyrics:
Who knows how long I’ve loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime
If you want me to, I will.
For if I ever saw you
I didn’t catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same.
Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart.
And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do endear you to me
Oh, you know, I will
My dad in his natural habitat.
In Father of the Bride, a father is forced to face the reality that his little girl has grown up. He must reconcile the memories of his daughter as a child with the woman she has become. I hope my own father knows that even though I’ve grown up and I’m getting married, I will always be his little girl. The same little girl who stays up too late reading. The same little girl who loves The Neverending Story and listening to the Beatles’ White Album. The girl who can get lost in an encyclopedia. The girl who thinks Boba Fett is so cool, who enjoys crafting things, who is always using her creativity. The fiery, spirited, and independent girl who is dreaming up her next big adventure. But most of all, I hope he knows that I’m the same little girl who loves her dad so very, very much.
Have you chosen a song for your dance with your dad?