You watched her play in the sandbox, lose her first tooth and perform in countless dance recitals. You coached her every sport from the time she was 3 years of age until she was 15. You taught her how to swim, ride her bike and drive a car.
You remember her first varsity softball game as a freshman in high school and how pretty she looked on prom night. You can’t forget her big smile with a mouthful of braces or the pain of two knee surgeries and the tears of knowing her sports career was all but over.
You watched her graduate from high school and college and live on her own for the first time. Now your little girl isn’t so little anymore - and she’s getting married!
It’s an amazing feeling to relive the memorable moments in her life with fondness and also look forward to the days ahead as my daughter prepares to become a wife - and maybe even a mother. And then all of a sudden it hit me. Where did all the years go?
Unfortunately there’s not much time to think about all those years that have passed. There’s a fork in the road and one path leads down memory lane and the other towards the future. I want to go left but know I must turn right in order to continue this adventure. After all, we have a wedding to plan!
But you don’t have to remind my wife that. She’s already in high gear and going into overdrive with wedding plans. It’s like watching “Say Yes to the Dress” and NASCAR all in one.
There are a lot of items on her to-do list before our daughter ties the knot. “But whose wedding is this anyway,” I asked - ours or hers? The answer to that question, I discovered, was another question.
Who’s paying for this wedding? Now I get it. So let the planning begin. I soon realized that I’m really just a bystander in this whole process – a spectator, so to speak, in this game of life events. “So sit back and enjoy the ride,” I tell myself.
But wait a minute. I have some experience in this institution they call marriage. Although I’ve only been married once (thank you Jesus), I would like to say a few words and impart some wisdom to the happy couple.
First, the key to marriage is low expectations. What? You heard me. The truth is we are all flawed in one way or another. Put that guy or girl up on that pedestal and just watch how hard they hit the ground.
My motto is under-promise and over-deliver. The man of your dreams may not bring you flowers every day. But if he makes you breakfast without asking and will fold the laundry or do the dishes when he knows you’ve had a bad day, he’s a keeper.
Don’t let your expectations make you miss all the wonderful little things he does that lets you know he loves you and cares about you.
Getting married is scary. I know because I’ve been there. But you are ready, baby. I’ve watched you grow into a successful businesswoman and handle your share of disappointments at the same time. Marriage will bring you many of the same highs and lows, but as a couple you must press on - it is part of the journey.
Marriage is about so much more than the wedding day – it’s the joining of two lives. I’m not only proud of you, but I also think highly of the man you are choosing to marry. And if he looks at you like you’re the most beautiful and interesting person he’s ever seen, it will be a blessing to call him my son.
My little girl is getting married, my friends!
Rich DeLong, formerly of Richmond Hill, is the executive director for The Villas & The Grand of Seagrass Village in Panama City Beach, Florida. Reach him at SeniorMomentsWithRich@gmail.com.