One of the joys of life after 50 is seeing your children get married and start families of their own. It provides the prospect of continuity of the family name, and I guess on some fundamental level, it signals that the biological imperative to pass down your genes has been fulfilled. My doctor once told me that once you fulfill your reproductive obligations, Mother Nature does her best to kill you off because you’re no longer of any value to the herd. Thankfully, modern medicine usually frustrates Mother Nature’s murderous ways.
Anyway, my son was married on June 1, and I found it to be a marvelous experience. The wedding was in Vermont, the home state of his new wife. Vermont is a lovely place, and its rolling, green lushness was particularly evident after a wet spring. The weather was a bit peculiar, as it is wont to be in this era of climate change. The weekend before the wedding, it was in the low 40s, and there was spring skiing at Killington. However, June 1 was quite a different story. The thermometer hit 90 degrees, an all-time record for Burlington, Vermont on that day. While a 90-degree day in New York is just another summer day, northern Vermonters are not used to that kind of heat. They usually don’t need air conditioning, and so we found that the reception hall was cooled only by fans. Needless to say, fans are not up to the job of cooling a barn full of people in fancy clothes, particularly when they start dancing. My daughter’s boyfriend perspired so profusely that he had to throw the shirt away, as nothing could remove the perspiration stains. Fortunately, the cathedral where the wedding ceremony occurred was fully air conditioned. As I watched from the front row (there are some benefits to being father of the groom), I was struck by a sense of déjà vu.
I looked at my son and saw myself 35 years ago. It was very strange. And very right. But then the priest pronounced them married, they kissed, and the crowd applauded. Suddenly, an involuntary sound burst out from deep in my chest. It was a sob of joy. It was just one short outburst, but I immediately thought back to the last time I could remember reacting in that way. It was 27 years ago, and the nurse in the delivery room handed my son to me. This same primal sob of joy blared out of me then. Now the little boy was a man, and taking a wife. I think that probably the best thing about getting older is having the joy of seeing the fruits of your parenting labors. Being a parent is not an easy job, and when it goes right, it’s cause for celebration. So here’s to a son well-done, and his lovely bride.