Getting fitted for the tuxedo he would have worn to walk me down the aisle.
I guess if you put all the logic pieces together at age 7 or 8… it makes sense.
They tell you that the goal is to marry someone who loves you. Who will always take care of you and thinks the world of you. Defend you. Make you smile. Provide for you and care for. And who you will love until the end of time.
It makes perfect sense that every little girl that I know asks their daddy to marry them.
At that stage, we don’t know anything about how backward or incestuous that might seem to the world. We just know that… this man fits the description. Even mine… in all his imperfection. He was tall and strong and my mom thought enough of him to pledge her life to him. And he seemed to be enamored with me. Wanted to protect and defend me. And “in his own way” loved me infinitely. Indescribably.
Most fathers, at this point, figure out a way of gently letting their baby girls down. Which has to be an enormous undertaking. All the girl’s daddies that I know are securely and firmly wrapped around their daughters’ pinky fingers. But they’re mostly all masterful at it. They gently break the news that as a result of the marriage to their mother, they can’t really do that… however – they’ll be around to walk them down the aisle when some person is deemed worthy enough to take their baby girl’s hand.
My dad went a step further. He offered our narrow apartment hallway as my practice aisle and told me to get one of the sheets from the linen closet. Helped me drape it over my head then positioned me at the entrance of their bedroom door (which was the furthest point in the house away from the living room – where the piano was). “When you hear the music, start your march,” he’d advise. Then walk quickly to the piano in the living room. I’d stand there nervous and happy. Then hear the first few chords. Duhhh. Dah. Dah dummmm… He was tapping out Wagner’s “Here Comes the Bride” on the piano and I would begin my very serious, very meaningful walk down the “aisle” with my imaginary bouquet in my hand and my stoic, meaningful look on my face. Step. Together. Step. Together. all the way down the aisle. And when I’d reach him he would start playing Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and I would whip off my veil, kiss him on the cheek then dance around the living room coffee table as if the reception was in full swing. He’d eventually get up and scoop me into his arms and hug me for a moment then encourage me to go on and play in my room or go “check on” mommy if she was home. But we repeated this scene for a while.
Sometimes it wouldn’t be the marriage scene. It would be a theme from a Clairol commercial that used to show regularly on the tv that he’d play for me to whip my freshly pressed hair around and feel beautiful. Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1. And I clearly remember he would be smiling as he played it for me… and I would dance so freely. Neither of us a care in the world.
I still miss you, Daddy. Just having a moment 11 years later.
I know how proud you are of your granddaughter. She loves music just like you do. She’ll do much better than I did. I promise.