Around Pleasanton: 'Her mother and I do'
I know that a father escorting his daughter down the aisle in a wedding ceremony -- as I did two weeks ago when my younger daughter Jenny was married -- should focus on the beautiful bride-to-be, not stepping on her gown and smiling at all of the guests we walked by. I did all this, but I'll have to admit that I was also rehearsing quietly the five words headlined above to make sure I said them right.
You'd think that as a former speechwriter, five words shouldn't be hard to learn and remember. But friends had spooked me with their tales of how other dads had made mistakes when asked "Who gives this woman..." These gaffes included: "My mother and I do." Another one was "Her father and I do." Moving along, we made it to the front of St. Clement's Church, where I kissed my Jenny and handed her off to her fiancÚ Jerry Brewer. When the Rev. Bruce O'Neill asked the question of me, I'm proud to say I came through like a champ.
As happy as we are for Jenny and Jerry today and as much as we wanted this for her, it's still hard, as it is for most parents, I'm sure, to see our last unmarried child leave the family name behind and truly embark on her own exciting venture as Jenny Brewer.
But then we're used to some of these goodbyes, although none as permanent and life-lasting as this. I'll admit to shedding a few tears as Jan and I helped Jenny on with her small backpack to head off to kindergarten at Vintage Hills Elementary School. That's where she twice earned the school's coveted Elliott Award, the first of many special recognitions she received in the Pleasanton school system, including as trumpet player in the Pleasanton Middle School Band and as captain of the girls' varsity tennis team at Amador Valley High. Just last week she received a top performance award at SPAWAR, a government agency in San Diego where she and Jerry both work.
Perhaps the toughest goodbye was when we dropped Jenny off at college and faced that long drive back to Pleasanton, silent much of the time as we realized we were now empty nesters. I wrote a column about that on Sept. 8, 2000, which many readers responded to with comments about their similar experiences. After college, Jenny took a job in Nashville, so I hitched a U-Haul to her Saturn and we drove there in November 2004, seeing sites along the way. And, yes, I wrote a column about that, too, about saying goodbye at the Nashville Airport for that long flight home, alone.
Then she joined the Bechtel Corp., which sent her to Montreal. Another goodbye. Then to Western Canada's remote Kitimat where our University of Oregon grad in public policy somehow won accolades as a cost engineer for a new aluminum smeltering plant Bechtel was building. More goodbyes, but never long-lasting with long weekends and Bechtel hardship R&Rs back to the family home in Pleasanton.
It won't be the same in this new chapter of life we've started, although some things don't seem to change. Jenny and Jerry will be back this weekend from their honeymoon in Costa Rica, dirty laundry in hand and hungry appetites for home-cooked meals, which, of course, we'll be happy to handle.
Now the many months of preparation are over, the tuxes returned, the gown packed and preserved. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding. I know this father will forever hold this memory as one of the truly special and proud moments in a lifetime.