Remarks prepared for delivery later today:
Good afternoon celebrants.
Before presenting a toast to Joanna, my daughter, and Jade, my freshly minted son-in-law, I will first provide context for the toast—context for the joy I feel as father of the bride; joy all of us feel for witnessing this overt commitment to love.
Kierkegaard was wrong. It is not God who requires a leap of faith. It is Love.
Anyone observing Joanna’s behavior in the past few weeks culminating in the vow Until death do us part has been astonished.
Here was my aggressive, self-possessed daughter who expresses admiration for Napoleon’s ruthless acquisition of power….
Anyway, here she was, buckling at the knees full of fear and trembling, forgetting to breathe while her mother and I separately and continually urged she take deep breaths.
Jade by comparison, whose training as a Marine had prepared him well for any kind of disaster (albeit not the threat of happiness), projected a calm exterior any perceptive poker player would have spotted as phony by the tell of his eyes frequenting rolling out of control in surprise at the fate he had brought upon himself.
My role in these proceedings has been two-fold. The first is as an atavistic participant in a chauvinistic ritual where I have just given away (as it is called) the bride. Giving away the bride is a concept that has boggled my mind.
Equally boggling was Jade calling me over a year ago from Hawaii asking Joanna’s “hand in marriage”—a hand I also did not own. Back then, in keeping with my Confucian notions of gentlemanly behavior, I blessed him. Then, I suggested he ask the person whose views on the subject actually matter.
Today’s Japanese Noh-play-like performance is in sharp contrast to reality.
Ever since I literally cut the umbilical cord at Joanna’s birth, I knew that Joanna was on loan for the precious time allotted—never one I owned or was entitled to give away.
Fortunately, Joanna’s mother graciously provided assistance by writing the response to the ceremonial question: Who gives this bride away?
The answer: “Joanna’s mother and I do.”
Having read Diana’s comments on the official wedding blog, I know that her responses to this occasion are similar to mine.
We are each delighted Joanna and Jade are marrying and wish them well.
Joanna is impulsive, brilliant, and ambitious.
Jade is steady, reassuring, and talented in ways he does not yet understand. He is Joanna’s anchor windward. She is his delight.
Their marriage today has auspicious signs and portents.
My second role in these proceedings is to actually be alive and present.
In April, a physician showed me on a laptop a video of my right kidney surrounded by a cancerous tumor.
She said if I wanted to live an additional 10 years, the expertise to save me did not exist in my hometown.
She referred me to Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
In August, I had major surgery which removed the cancer and saved my kidney. My instant reaction to the cancer diagnoses was to embrace the physician and while crying, say, “I want to be there for Joanna’s wedding.”
Being here today is not enough. Not for me and not for those of us here who know and love Joanna and Jade. We want to be here to see what happens next. Of course, I also am eager to see what happens next for my younger daughter Amelia, whom I also love dearly and who leaves for another year in Spain on Wednesday.
Now the toast. This afternoon we see the application of the Pueblo Indian expression:
“We shall be one person.”
The key to your happiness is understanding.
The significance of your marriage is today we have all become one family.
No one can succeed alone; no marriage survives without help and assistance.
May you have the wisdom to continually refresh your happiness by relying on us when you need us and when you do not need us.
I toast you Joanna and Jade with these words: We are all in this together.
–Joel Solkoff, father of the bride
Copyright 2013 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.