Posted 6/19/13 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
Like many parents, I can now attest to the fact of how emotional it is to watch their child get married, to say nothing of the process of getting things ready for a wedding.
Lisa and I had known for over a year that our oldest son, Justin, was going to marry the girl of his dreams, Elizabeth Anderson, on June 15. As we were celebrating their engagement, which happened just days before they both graduated from Jamestown College last May, the date of June 15, 2013 seemed an eternity away. But that year flew by quicker than a blink, and last Thursday afternoon we were off to Bowbells, N.D. to help the Anderson family make the last-minute arrangements.
And one by one, through the help of wonderful friends and family members, the final touches were put together on getting the hall decorated for the rehearsal dinner, the wedding reception tent up and decorated (which is a story onto itself as a result of rain-soaked ground and high winds as the tent went up and down and then back up again).
It is good that Lisa and I could stay busy because whenever there was a free moment of time, emotions would start to percolate to the surface. I lost it a bit and tears came to my eyes as I struggled through a short speech during the rehearsal dinner as I saw Justin and Liz surrounded by their wedding party and friends. And once again my eyes watered when I saw Liz and Justin as they posed for their wedding photos. I don’t know why, but suddenly a lifetime of memories with Justin came flashing through my mind. And all of the memories were good. There were images of him and I shooting basketballs, throwing the football and playing catch with a baseball together. And there were the memories of the times when he and I would sit together as he was growing up and talk about life in general, sports, school, and his dreams and ambitions. Sometimes during those talks, I carried the load of the conversation and tried my best to answer his questions. Other times, it was him doing the talking and me doing the listening and then adding my two cents when it seemed appropriate.
Finally it was time for our son to step to the altar and profess his love to Liz as they prepared to begin a new journey as husband and wife.
Justin seemed to be holding up much better than I was. But as I sat beside him in the pew waiting for Liz and her father, Lee, to make their way down the aisle, I noticed a dead giveaway of the emotions that were running through him. His legs were shaking uncontrollably. Not knowing what else to do, I patted him on the back, rubbed his leg and told him to close his eyes, take a couple of deep breaths and assured him that he would be fine. He knew otherwise, and as my eyes started watering up again, so did I.
And there he stood at the altar in front of a packed church, hand in hand with his soon-to-be bride with a tear running down his cheek. At that moment, like I had done in so many occasions, all I wanted was to go to him and wipe that tear away.
But without losing her radiant smile, Liz slowly and quietly spoke to Justin and then reached up and wiped away that tear. If there had been any dry eyes in the Bowbells church before that moment, there sure weren’t afterwards.
And with that simple, loving gesture, the torch of caring and nurturing for our oldest son was officially passed from Lisa and I to Liz.
And we couldn’t be happier for Justin or more thrilled to welcome Liz into our family.