Last month, I walked in the footsteps of generations of fathers when I walked my daughter Amanda down the aisle. It was an event I both anticipated and denied from the time of her infancy. For a father, a wedding is a celebration of ambivalence. The night was one of the happiest of my life, but one that left me oddly wistful.
Amanda was conceived as our “late-in-life” baby. From the vantage point of today, that seems ridiculous. Jane, my wife, was 35 at the time and I was 38. Unlike our 2 older sons, Amanda didn’t come easy. Her birth, seriously in doubt for so long, was a hard-won collaboration. Once she arrived, however, she was beyond anything we ever fantasized. So smart, so funny, so beautiful. At 5, she was beating us all at card games. At 9, she already flaunted the truest ear for movie dialogue I’d ever heard.
One year, we got her a puppy. Amanda joined a Welsh terrier chat room and began offering advice—first on dog rearing, then on life in general. Other members eagerly shared their personal trials until someone asked if she was married. “Well, no” she said, “I’m only 11.”
With each new stage, we enjoyed her more. Amanda and I shared a special bond when she followed in my footsteps and went to my college alma mater. Then, over my thundering objection, she followed my path of sin into advertising.
Once she began working, Amanda found an apartment and moved into Manhattan. Two years ago, we met Fernando, who was to become our new son-in-law. To a father who was lucky in love, it was obvious that Amanda was lucky too. She glowed in his presence.
Major life events, like weddings, are planned, awaited, and fully acknowledged. But most satisfying chapters of life—the periods when joy is a routine part of your day-to-day lot—are easy to take for granted. As I walked Amanda down the aisle, a wonderful new stage of life was beginning. But a wonderful old one was also passing. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon.