A daughter has dates who are smart and goofy, serious and silly, but finds the perfect match
By George Valadie
“God will bring the right person into your life at the right time. Always believe that! If they are not there, God isn’t finished yet!”
The smiles of the moment said it all! Sarah, our youngest, was walking down the aisle to indeed meet that love of her life.
Keith, her fiancé, was no doubt glad to be free of the venue dressing room she’d barricaded him in for most of the afternoon.
And Nancy, her mother, could finally relax knowing she’d planned her final wedding.
To add to what was surely a perfect evening, no one got COVID. The weather was ideal. The music was better. The guests were granted access to the bar and buffet before the obligatory family photos were finished.
And by night’s end, the sparklers had caught just one dress on fire.
Other than our guests gazing at the bride as we passed by them—her anxiety would have preferred they look at anyone other than her—it was quite the night to celebrate.
On a recent and joyful Saturday evening, Keith and Sarah, the youngest of our three daughters, were married.
Engaged more than a year ago, she was by far the easiest bride of our three. The other two will tell you the same.
She cared about very few of the details. She picked a dress and a cake flavor and left the rest up to her mom.
If the reception menu had consisted only of chicken tenders, cheese cubes, and Coke Zero, she’d have been just fine. We added thumbprint cookies for the grandkids, and Sarah was in heaven.
At a meeting with a prospective caterer, Sarah was asked, “Honey, what’s going to be the theme of your wedding?”
At which point, she leaned over to Nancy and asked, “Mom, what’s my wedding theme?”
For fun and entertainment, our sons-in-law would call periodically and ask Nancy how “her” wedding was going. But with her well-worn three-inch notebook by her side, she wrangled the vendors for their services and wrestled me for my money. She won every battle.
As father of the bride I had the joyous privilege of walking Sarah down the aisle combined with the sadder duty of stepping back to leave her standing there with someone else.
But it was exactly where she was supposed to be.
While sitting there watching her face reflect nerves then delight then back again, my memory couldn’t help but reminisce a conversation the two of us had shared some 15-plus years ago when she was a high school senior.
A few years before, Sarah had made the high school cheerleading squad when she was but a freshman. “Dad, do you remember when I was a cheerleader?”
“Looking back on it, I think I should have stuck with that whole thing [she never tried out again].
“That gave me a chance to pay attention to the game, which I loved to watch anyway. It gave me 15 minutes at halftime to hang with the few friends I wanted to see.
“And most importantly, it gave me a definite place to stand for the night. I never had to worry about looking for a place to be.”
She didn’t have to say anything about the other three years when she wasn’t a cheerleader. She didn’t have to say anything about how hard it must have been not to have a spot of your own or a gaggle of friends with whom to roam.
And because she had brought it up, she certainly didn’t have to say anything about how hard it must have been for her to fit in.
Her years since high school have been full of a lot of that same sort of searching for that place where she would feel her best self.
She’s been on a wealth of blind dates with all sorts of guys. One we liked until we found out about the drugs. More than a couple she dismissed as “criers,” which always made me wonder about the sorts of things that happened on her dates.
And once she described a young man as “Jewish and he doesn’t like sports.”
“Well, honey, you know we don’t care what faith he is.”
“I don’t either,” she replied, “but no sports? What could we ever talk about?!”
There have been smart guys and goofy ones, some were serious and some were way too silly, and some were searching like she was while others were just wandering.
She could laughingly recall having spent some occasional doodle time practicing her imaginary married signature—of which there was an ever-changing variety of last names from which to choose.
None felt right. Because none of them were right. I’ve always loved her dearly, but I’ve especially admired her willingness to never settle.
Her searching led to other choices she’ll admit she wishes she would have/could have avoided. She’s battled depression, given in to addiction, spent money she didn’t have, and searched her soul more than any one soul should have to be searched.
It’s funny listening to the two of them describe their first date. They’re both shy—conversationalists they are not. It’s a wonder there was ever a second. Without much talking, both admit they’d have likely hit if off much quicker if they’d sat across from one another and just texted back and forth.
We’ve come to see how many other ways they’re a perfect match.
He loves her dog dearly; she loves his daughter more.
She loves baseball; he’s learning to love the Irish.
She can’t cook a lick; he loves her anyway.
So it was there, at the end of that aisle, I could smile, too, knowing she had finally found her place to stand—just where God had always meant her to be.
Dear God—We say, “… let no man put asunder.” Please make that come true. Amen.
George Valadie resides in Chattanooga and is a parishioner at St. Stephen Church.