My Daughter's Wedding

And I didn't cry...

By Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: June 20, 2009

My Daughter's Wedding

Yesterday I experienced one of the proudest days of my life, a papa's dream as it were: Walking my daughter down the aisle. It was earlier in the week when I had a revelation of the beauty and perfection of the moment that was yet to come. I was holding my two-month old granddaughter, my youngest son's infant daughter in my arms. My heart went back to the days when I held my infant curly-haired mija, way back in the day when I was only in my mid-20's myself. Enamored with the beauty of life, God's magnificence in tiny Latina form, my eyes became warm with the tears I did not allow to fall, knowing that the day to give my daughter away was looming.

Like many of you dads of the pos- modern, reckless, irreconcilable situation, ally-ambivalent America of the 70's, I "weekend parented" my little ones. She was four and my little guy was three when their mom and I contractually agreed to disagree. I never missed a weekend visit or a child support check. I remember the time I walked out on a recording session in Texas with Little Joe Y La Famila in order to board planes, trains and automobiles to make it to the kid's Halloween costume parade in Berkeley. I could only wave from the sidelines as she walked by dressed as a first grade princess, my son a preschool superhero. Well, she is a princess and he is a superhero to me. They are the evolved people I always wanted to be but could never get past: My housing projects-bred bravado.

She told everyone the wedding would take place at 12, but it was really 12:30. Smiling on the way over, I thought back to her graduation day from SDSU with her BS in event planning. Was her timing an academic consideration, or a result of her sophisticated refined Latina-ness?

I have always prayed for my children to find the love of their lives, like I did. For me it was the second time around with the woman I call "Mi Vida." My daughter's wedding was four years to the day of her meeting the man of her destiny. Just like "An Officer and a Gentleman" her man has just completed his BS and is going to be a fighter pilot. I could not have scripted this love affair any better. It took divine penmanship.

The nuptials were staged at a regional park, in a cove surrounded by tall dark brown and green roofed trees perched on a hillside, veiled in fauna, girded by rocks, and matted by moss. One by one they came, as the sun's spotlight bathed famila in their Sunday best. High-tech mini media captured every nuance. Friends and family from the mother's side (many of whom I haven't seen in 29 years) appear 29 years older. Still the same inside, while touches of gray kind of suited them in many ways. I was no exception.

I looked up a two story flight of stone stairs from the cobbled plain below. There she was, dressed in white, and more beautiful than I ever imagined, flanked by her best friend maids of honor. I remembered the moment she was born. It was as if another eye opened in my being, never knowing what we Christians call "agape love" of God. I never knew love like that before. It was then, at her birth, when my real life began. Sadly for me, today is the day to hand her over to her Prince Charming, and I don't know what to say. I just hug her.

We were poised to walk down the tree-lined winding cement ramp, to the place where the ceremony was to be held below. I remembered holding her hand at the mall when we used to go to the Hello Kitty store to buy stickers with the money she made helping her mom with chores.

Her jovial and kindhearted step-dad took his rightful place on her left arm, while I was on her right, and we walked her down the ramp. She was a little anxious so I told her something ridiculous that Grandma Rose used to say to insult people. She laughed like she did back then. They played "Isn't She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder, the song that was at the top of the charts on the day she was born, and I still didn't cry.

Life came full circle as we were asked by my older brother, her Nino, the presiding Superior Court judge who officiated: "Who gives this woman to be betrothed?" Step-dad and I said, "We do," and we did.

Dreams do come true. God always works things out in perfection. And I didn't cry.

Until now.

About Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor:
Edited By Susan Aceves
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