Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Father Figure

I'm not one to get emotional at weddings. Sometimes I think I'm just not wired that way. Maybe the fact that I've been to quite a few ceremonies or receptions (32 at the last count), I've allowed myself to get a bit detached from the underlying emotions of the occasions. But saying all that, I've just returned from a wonderful bash held on the outskirts of Adelaide, South Australia, which touched me more than most occasions.

The location helped - the backdrop to the outdoor setting was a huge McClaren Vale vineyard. The skyline was clear for as far as the eye could see and the sheer peaceful serenity of where we were was a little overwhelming for the polluted, sky-scraping city dweller within me. It also helped, I guess, that a lot of people came away with a few extra air miles by attending the event. The bride was originally from those parts, though no longer lives in Australia, while the groom's family are all based in Northern Ireland. There was plenty of travelling by a large slice of us, and the bride and groom were clearly touched by this. But what really made the event very special for me was the fact that the bride's father has been seriously ill for some time and wasn't sure whether he would be around to see the special day. That day, he arrived just ahead of the bride. A nephew pushed him and his wheelchair onto the field and up the aisle to a huge round of applause from the other guests. He stopped about five metres away from where the groom stood waiting for his wife-to-be. 

Moments later the wedding march kicked in and the bride was walking down the aisle towards the groom.  But she wasn't going to do the whole journey solo. As she approached her father, she stopped. With the aid of nearby relatives, he struggled to his feet and slowly and gradually walked his daughter down those final five meters of the aisle. The walk may have been briefer than normal but this was a lifetime in the making - it felt like in those few steps he managed to fulfil a dream he'd had since the first day he held his baby daughter. 

It's way up there in terms of the most powerful gestures I've seen at a wedding and, needless to say, it was an emotional moment for everyone there to witness it. It's one wedding memory that will stick in my mind more than many from the other 31.

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