The Father's Waltz

There is a well loved wedding tradition in my family called the Father's Waltz. 

At the wedding reception, a song is played - something meaningful to Dad and the daughter he is giving away. Dad and his daughter bride dance together for the first half of the song, and then the groom approaches, asks to cut in, and symbolically takes the bride away from her father and finishes the dance with her.

It's my favorite part.

Besides the actual sealing, it was the thing I looked forward to the most on my wedding day. Cutting the cake shmutting the cake, I wanted to dance with my daddy. 

At previous sisters' weddings, I watched the dance with the other guests, and looked on in wonder. My sister was so beautiful in white. My dad was so handsome in a tux (seriously, you guys, my dad in a tux). They would waltz classic or venetian style in graceful circles, sharing that moment - just father and daughter, one last time belonging to each other before her new husband danced her away from him with a promise to cherish and protect.

During my Father's Waltz, I remember clinging to those moments dancing in my fathers arms, feeling like a little girl again as our song drove forward to the moment when Bill would ask to take me away from my daddy; and I would have to let go. Continue my dance held in the strong arms of another good man. 

I remember looking into my father's face, and being startled by the woman I saw reflected there. I was feeling tender about the little girl who grew up believing that her daddy was the only man she'd ever love. He was feeling tender about the woman he had witnessed me become.

And then Bill tapped his shoulder with a question on his lips, and the warmth of my father's arms left mine feeling empty for a brief moment before Bill's arms filled them with something new, different, whole.

At Soup's wedding, I watched with the others as she and my father turned around the circle made by the gathered guests. I watched them whisper to each other, make each other smile, laugh. But when my father gave her to Cleve and everyone ooh'd and awed as the newly pronounced husband and wife danced, I watched my father as he walked away, out of the circle, and moved to the shadows of the crowd. 

I watched him watch his youngest, his baby, his last. I watched his smile waver, his eyes blink as they began to glisten.

As everyone watched the dance, I watched my father's heart break.

And mine broke for him. And for Bill, who was holding his little hummingbird nestled safely against his shoulder, asleep. He caught my glance, and his expression asked me why I was weeping. I moved to his side.

"You know," I said. "Some day that will be you dancing. Some day, you'll be the one giving your daughter away."

Bill gave a small, difficult nod. 

"I can't stand it" I blubbered, and he agreed.

And we started talking about the financial travesties of the future weddings of our children, because that was far easier to take. Also - it pretty much meant that none of our children would be getting married.

D.I.Y. Weddings. That's how we'll roll.

And Dad? I'll always be your little girl. That awkward little red-haired freckled kid inside me still wants to curl up against your shoulder and feel the comforting rumble in your chest as you read me a bed time story.

Thanks for the waltz.


Diana Larson said...

Such precious moments. Made me think of my dad and smile and sniff just a little bit. Thanks for the memories. Diana

McCrery said...

You're killin me here Stepper!! That is one of those things that always gets me to choke up. The thought of that being Peyton ... I'm with you on the blubbering hehe

Ro Ro Riot said...

This was really nice. Very lovely way with words.

That Girl said...

I don't even have a daughter and I'm bawling.

Tammy said...

And what about the Mom? There is so much to do in planning the reception, trying to make your daughter's dream wedding come true, that it is always over way too soon, and you are watching your little girl in the arms of her father and you think... What about Mom?
I have missed each of you as you have left my home to make your own. But the wonderful thing is, our roles have changed to include not only that of Mother/daughter, but also that of friends. And that has made it a little more bearable!