Thoughts from the father of the bride.
Edward Mooney, Jr.
Antelope Valley Press Column, 12/2/2002
It’s late on November 23rd, and earlier today I walked you down the aisle; you were married to Richard. It’s dark and quiet all around the house now, but it was terribly hectic earlier. There was a moment just before the wedding procession began that I need to tell you about. You probably remember: you were looking through the slats of the blinds in our master bedroom, down on the assembled crowd in our decorated back yard. Pastor Hetland was there, near the large cross, and the white chairs seemed to shine against the peppered green and tan grass of late Fall. I walked in the door, from the hall, and told you it was time to go downstairs. It was just you and I, alone, for a few minutes. There was a problem I didn’t tell you about. I want to do so now.
Do you remember that moment? You were stunning in that beautiful white dress. I felt good wearing that very nice black suit and silver tie. This is not what I needed to tell you, but the sight of you dressed like that pulled me away from what I wanted to say. One will always look upon an angelic bride and be distracted!
You probably remember how we cried, and hugged. You were worried about being late; the wedding music had already begun. I reassured you that we had time. I laughed inside as I considered the idea, because the wedding will ALWAYS wait for the bride! It was at this moment that I realized I had a problem. The ceremony had plenty of time, but my time with you as my little girl had run out.
So much ran through my mind in those few minutes, as I hugged you and you cried. I fought my tears as I remembered all of the years of your life. I realized I wanted to tell you that I am sorry for our stubborn arguments, and the times when I had little patience. I have learned that, in many ways, you and I are a lot alike. I wanted to pass on any wisdom I may have gained in my life (as little as it may be). So, I do it here instead, on my computer in the darkness of the same room that we cried in.
There are three ways to learn about relationships. You can learn by the study of books, or by observing the errors and successes of others, or by your own trial and error. I hope you’ll learn by the first two; the third way is so much more painful.
Unfortunately, the Antelope Valley Press doesn’t have enough ink or paper to tell you all that I’d like to tell you, so I’ll boil this down to the ten most important pieces of advice I could give a child of mine who gets married. I guess I shouldn’t expect the paper to make up for the years when I should have talked with you about these things. Maybe I did…who can know?
Number 10. Money may seem like the most important thing in your life right now, but it’s not. You can be rich and miserable, or poor and happy. You can be rich and happy, or poor and miserable. See money only as a tool, like a hammer or saw. I know that it seems like our society says SUVs bring happiness, but we deceive ourselves. If you base your happiness on material things then you will be empty your whole life. I hope you’ll realize that finding happiness together is a choice, not a circumstance.
Number 9. Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses (yes, we all have them). Be gentle with your husband’s weaknesses. When you help him to understand his flaws, be very, very gentle. Ask your mother about this one. She’s an expert.
Number 8. Build your lifelong relationship on many different aspects, not simply on something as fleeting and variable as sex...or money.
Number 7. Fight fair. Don’t use sarcasm or bad language. It only pours gasoline on the fire. Don’t get physical. Physical wounds can heal quickly, but not the emotional ones that always accompany hitting.
Number 6. Make decisions together. Try to remember to ask your husband what he thinks of the choices in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many times he will show you an option that you never thought of. Mom always does this for me.
Number 5. Never neglect your relationship with your husband, even when the demands of your children are great. Your children need to see that you two still want to be together. It is the greatest gift you can give the little ones. They may not know it when they are little, but they will understand when they are older…when THEY become parents. Yes, that will happen. It happened to me…too soon.
Number 4. Share much, but allow yourself to be who you are as an individual. Allow Richard to be himself as well. Remember, it took me 16 years to get used to the idea that your mother likes to wear the color purple! She continued to enjoy the color in spite of me. It is only now that I realize that it is her uniqueness that I love so much. Even (gasp) in purple.
Number 3. Keep fun in your lives. It is the rubber band that keeps you coming back to each other, no matter how stretched out and apart you two may feel.
Number 2. Be kind to each other. There will be times when you lose patience, but don’t lose your kindness. Remember to keep the love that brought you together at the center, even during an argument.
Number 1. Remember that God will always be there for both of you, even when Mom and I are no longer here. The Bible tells us that “God is love.” If it is true that we love you (it is), then we will always be with you, for God is there, and He is love. Besides, one of your children may have my eyes, or Mom’s smile. So, you see, we’ll still be there, at their children’s weddings, even if we are with God.
Well, there they are: the top ten things to remember in a relationship. Oh, there was one more thing I wanted to say there in the bedroom this afternoon, as you cried. I’m not sure if you heard me. I was crying, too.
Mom and I love you.
PS: I need to send out a special thank you to Pastor Glenn (yes, two n’s) Hetland of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Gail Anderson (and her husband J.C.) of Highland High School for the wonderful music (they do weddings!), Virginia and Conrad Hernandez (also of Highland) for the catering of the hearty and great food, and Palmdale officials Jim Ledford and Jim Root for making it a memorable day for the new couple. Welcome, Richard and Jamie Lopez, to our family. Oh, and you, too, young Richard! Take care of my daughter! She’s my treasure, as all my children are.
Oh, and thanks belong to God for the unbelievable November weather! By the way, God didn’t mind being last. He’s always been really forgiving with me. Keep that in mind, newlyweds. Forgive. ‘Nuff said. I told you I had too much to write.