On the television stations there is currently a car commercial that shows a father standing at the front passenger side of the car with the window rolled down. He is dangling car keys in his hands and addressing the driver of the car, a young girl around 8 years old. He is giving her instructions on how to be careful while driving the car. When I first saw this ad I can remember thinking, “Who would ever let such a little girl drive a car?”
After a couple of photo shots of the little girl, much of the commercial is spent on the worried look of the father’s face. Finally, the little girl interrupts her dad, taking the car keys from him. As he sees the keys vanish from his hand, the little girl becomes a 16 year old young lady taking the car out for the first time on her own. The car company completes the ad by telling us, the audience, that they prepared this automobile for such a day as this. I was so emotionally taken, that a tear surprised my face with its presence, reminding me of how fast our four children have grown.
That feeling merely compounded itself on Saturday, August 21, at 4 pm. My daughter, Kate Miller, stood in front of me and beside a young man named Kris Ambrose. It was their wedding day. We were outdoors at Riverside Receptions near Centreville, Michigan. An irritating, dripping rain stopped at 2 pm, the sun made an appreciated appearance, and the temperature reflected more accurately what most Michigan summer days feel like.
The Bride’s mother was nervous but looking extremely radiant and beautiful. The Bride’s grandfather (my father) walked her down the aisle. Due to my invalid mother he had not been able to be present at the weddings of our first two children, Sam and Sarah. With mother’s death, dad was able to be with us for this occasion. Kate asked him to be her escort. My wife, Susan, and I were deeply moved and I know that dad was very grateful.
As Kate and Kris stood before me I looked at them both. Kris stared at Kate with such love in his eyes that it made my heart beat with joy. When I looked at Kate, I was like that car commercial dad. I saw a blonde, curly-haired, little girl, full of life and energy, marching toward life with boundless determination.
Right before the wedding began I reached in my pocket to check on the status of my handkerchief, only to discover its absence. The thought that came to mind was, “You can’t cry, Miller. You don’t have a hankie!” Actually, I did pretty well. Then as I was pronouncing them husband and wife I began staring at Kate, realizing she was now a wife, only to see her staring back at me with such grace in her eyes that I simply began to melt. I buckled, but kept going, somehow managing to hand over the car keys to her. Oops, I mean…well, you know what I mean.
At the wedding reception I gave a toast. Toasts are words of appreciation, of personal support and wishing people well. I wish all of you well, but this toast is for Kate and Kris.
“From Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Florida and Michigan you have come together as family and friends of Kate and Kris, celebrating their love and vows of marriage. We thank you. As I look at my daughter, Kate, I can’t help but reflect on all the years I was lucky enough to watch her grow and become the beautiful woman she is today. She captured my heart on the day she was born, and I became more and more in awe of her as the years passed by. She’s my little girl and my ray of sunlight, and no matter what her age, she’ll always be those things to me.
Today, as I watch her marry Kris, I am filled with pride and I am confident that they are about to embark on a wonderful journey. Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and marriages blossom when we love the ones we marry. I lift my glass and toast Kate and Kris. May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet; enough hope to keep you happy; enough success to keep you eager; enough friends to give you comfort; and enough determination to make each day a better day than yesterday.”