Last Thanksgiving, Grace and I were in our basement discussing her future. It became clear to me that we had different versions of her future when she asked me if I would be upset if she and her boyfriend, Brian, got engaged at Christmas.
Of course not. I know that you have been thinking about it and I know Brian is going into the Army and I would not expect you to wait until he gets out of the Army. However, I do have a few concerns, like you are young and you don't always react well to change. When he goes into the Army, you are going to face a lot of changes in your life. That is what I said.
OH MY GOSH... NOOOOO! WHAT, ARE YOU CRAZY! I AM NOT OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE A MARRIED CHILD. YOU ARE A BABY... OH MY GOSH THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING!!!! I HAVE OVER A HUNDRED CONCERNS... THE LEAST OF WHICH IS THAT YOU ARE WAY TOO YOUNG! YOUNG YOUNG YOUNG!!! YOU ARE LIKE... YOUNG. WAIT... YEAH, WAIT UNTIL HE GETS OUT OF THE ARMY... I'M GOING TO BE SICK, This is what I thought!
Grace advised me that she is ready for the changes that will come her way and that she only gets upset around me and her Mom... which I found funny because over the years, we are the two people that have fixed the things that have caused her to be upset.
Well they did get engaged over Christmas and my baby girl gets married today... on Father's Day, no less. Nuptial Mass at Sacred Heart in Bowie followed by a reception in Ellicott City. You have heard of Ellicott City... it has been in the news a lot lately. This little thing called a flash flood washed it away three weeks ago.
What's that, how can you have a reception in a city that has been washed away? The answer is that you can't.
Turns out, you can't even get near the place.
It could be worse, we could have had the reception on the day of the flood. There was a wedding there on the day of the flood and everyone had to be evacuated. We heard that every person at that wedding had their car washed away. That will make for a great story some day... I am glad that I am not the one that is going to tell it.
Grace was away when we heard about the flood but I was sure she was going to flip out. As is typical in our home when things do not go as expected, I took the news much better than Cheryl. She was very matter of fact, just kept watching the news and reporting on what she was hearing and muttering things like, God has a plan! or Things always work out. Crazy stuff like that.
I just stared out to our backyard in a semi-comatose state conjuring up the worst possible scenarios.
You can play along... We are going to lose our money. We will never find another venue in three weeks. Grace is young. Even if we do make it into Ellicott City, I bet they will not let us do a floating bar. Grace is still young... really young! She is going to be devastated!
When we finally got in touch with Grace, who was with Brian and his family at his parent's home, her response was shocking.
I heard... boy, I really feel bad for those poor people. I feel terrible for the lady we are renting from!
Wait, there must be a mistake. You see, my daughter reception venue got washed away and the wedding is in three weeks. She will be devastated. I am looking for Grace Palumbo... P A L U M B O.
This is Grace, Dad. I feel bad for these folks. This happened before, just a few years ago and now the have had to go through this twice.
Put Grace on will ya? At this point I was getting nervous. Her reception venue has been washed away, we probably cannot find any place else with only three weeks to go, our deposit is gone and we are in full disaster mode. Put my baby girl on the phone, I need to calm her down.
No big deal... I have been looking online and there are a few places that have our date available. We will be okay.
No... No we won't be okay. At least not until I fix it. This is how it works. This is how it has always worked. Things go wrong, you panic. Mom fixes it and I take credit for it! Why are you changing everything now?
Oh, I get it, she is acting like she is a grown up and trying to convince me that Brian is some kind of calming influence in her life. That is funny because we all know I am the calming influence in her life. She is a child and I am an irreplaceable influence in my daughter's life!
There, I said it!
Problem is ... it may not be true. She may already be a grown up and she may be capable of fixing things on her own... or worse... GULP... capable of fixing things with a little help from Brian.
I like Brian but as these types of things continue to occur, I can see myself changing that opinion!
In actuality, Grace handled this whole change in plans like a champ. I can honestly say that I have never been more proud of her. Her thoughts and prayers were with the folks in Ellicott City and then she went about finding a new reception venue with military precision.
Wait a second... I see what's happening here. She never did anything with military precision in the past. In fact, when things did not go as expected, she would kind of panic a bit, expect the wort cse scenario and then go about trying to minimize the damage. Frankly, she was just like me. Now that Brian is in the picture... she is all different.
While certainly more efficient, I don't like it... I don't like it at all. I definitely see my opinion of Brian changing.
The wedding weekend has begun. A few weeks ago, Cheryl and I discussed how this weekend would be... a quite time spent focusing on Grace and the blessed sacrament of marriage. Minimal visits from family... we have time to visit with them when we see them at the wedding.
That was the plan.
Friday, was like an Open House combined with a work zone at the Palumbos. We had over twenty five people coming and going. My brother painted our front door and the sprinkler people came and advised that we need to dig up the back yard to find a leak. I made an unexpected trip to the Italian market in Baltimore and we did what we always do when we have friends and family in town, we eat, we drink, we laugh and we play games. What we did not do was quietly focus on the wedding.
Same thing on Saturday with a wedding rehearsal and a rehearsal dinner sprinkled in.
You know what... it was perfect. It all worked out fine and I would not have changed a thing. It turns out that married life is not that much different from planning a wedding. Unexpected things happen, plans change, you figure it out. In fact, the only thing consistent about marriage is that things change. You might as well learn to deal with it from day one.
Over the last few months, when I tell people that my daughter is getting married, they put their hand on my arm and gently ask... How are you doing.. how are you handling all this?
The answer is simple... I am not sad, I am not worried, I am not anxious. I feel great about it. I believe that this is absolutely the right thing. For years, Cheryl and I have been praying for Brian... only we didn't know it was Brian at the time. At the time, it was just some random guy that would someday marry our daughter. Granted we expected her to be twenty eight when it happened but remember what I said about unexpected things.
Brian is the second oldest of eight home schooled kids. He is a devout Catholic who is smart, disciplined and loves his family. Most importantly, he loves Grace. His family is as nice as can be and the more I am around them, the more I like them. On a side note, two of his brothers stayed with us Saturday night and the only criticism I have is that they just are not that good at the game Reverse Charades. I like their competitiveness but they are lacking in execution!
Brian's family has accepted Grace with open arms. Cheryl and I know that when Grace and Brian go to visit them the day after every major holiday... Grace has promised that they will be spending the actual holiday at our house, especially after they have kids... it will be as if she is at home. Only with more kids, more noise and on a small farm.
Grace didn't really promise that they would spend every major holiday at our house. I made that part up. But if Grace reads this, she should know that it would make her mom very happy if they did spend every major holiday with me... I mean us. You see Cheryl worries about stuff like that. I just smile and tell Cheryl that God has a plan or Everything happens for a reason. You know, grown up stuff like that!
So Grace... at least consider the holiday thing... you know... for Mom.
So today on Father's Day, I am giving a gift. Giving the most precious gift I have. But I am also getting a few gifts also... the gift of a new son and the family he brings with him.
You know the only downside to this Father's Day wedding is... I really could have used a few new dress shirts and ties.
If you find yourself alone with some time on your hands today, please say a prayer for Grace and Brian as they start their life together. Cheryl and I very excited and cannot wait to spend some time with friends and family.