My Daughter is Married, & My Heart is Full (posted 7/19/22)

As I wrote last week, my daughter got married on Friday.  And thank you so much for your generous congratulations last week! (And yes, for those of you who asked: this is the daughter who saved someone’s life in November!)

I had been sick for most of the week before, but I was feeling better on Thursday, and by the time of the rehearsal that evening, I was getting over the last of the fever I’d had. 

From there, things went smoothly.  And though I know this is self-indulgent, I feel like you folks are family, so I’m going to take one column off of commenting about small politics and smaller politicians, and share some details of that amazing experience. 

(If you need more political mockery, or if your heart is three sizes too small, skip this one, and I’ll be serving up some skewered leftists again soon.)

I’m also going to discuss my toast speech, which had me scared and nervous… until the first intended laugh line landed. After that, I was 10 feet tall and bulletproof!

The service itself was beautiful, and the weather held.  Rain had been forecast, but thankfully, the same geniuses who are confidently predicting the exact temperature 100 years from this coming Wednesday – and it’s going to kill us all if we don’t go green NOW! – are usually around 50/50 on the outlook 24 hours from now.

In other words, it was sunny.  Boiling hot, sure – it’s north Florida in July – but sunny.  The venue was a compound of 100-year-old cottages anchored by two Victorians from the 1880s, and some lovely grounds for an outdoor wedding.

There is no parental bias in admitting that my daughter is absolutely gorgeous, and did I lose it a bit when the photographers arranged for the reveal, when I first got to see her in her dress? 

Damn straight.  You would too, if you’d sired such a creature.  Or even if you saw her as you were walking by. 

And curse the day, young single males in CO Nation, because she is now taken!

(I’ve posted a pic of that moment at  It looks small on my computer, but I’ll engage daughter #2 in some tech help tomorrow, and see if I can’t fix that.)

During the ceremony itself I picked a Biblical text to read and gave a short prayer.  I chose the famous lines from the 13th chapter of first Corinthians – they’re cliched because they’re true – that start, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”

(I’ve always thought that that last phrase should be read to us old married types more than newlyweds, because all of us need reminding that keeping “records of wrongs” will take you no place good.  And yet… it’s so tempting!) (Especially when my wife is wrong, like, 74% more than I am.)

(See how tempting?)

Because I’m 100% me, even when that is entirely inappropriate, I actually did feel a passing temptation to start out, “Love is patient, love is kind.  Love is… does not… you know, you know the thing.”

But fortunately, the 100% of me includes .001% that is smart enough to not make my wife murder me in the middle of speaking at my daughter’s wedding.  So I read it straight, just the way God gave it to St. Paul.  And the people rejoiced.

The service was beautiful, and then we moved into the air conditioning for some refreshments. I said grace (with no reference to how much more this food was costing us since a certain political party came to power – I could feel my wife’s hot stare on my neck as I prayed, even though she was supposed to have her eyes closed!), and the caterers served a delicious meal.

And then it was time for the toast speeches.

Two things tormented me when I was trying to write my speech: 1. I had a high fever and an intermittently throbbing toothache (the root canal is this Thursday), and 2. I knew that I was going to get choked up to the point of paralysis multiple times during the speech. 

So even if I put together some passable verbiage, the certain knowledge that I’d be melting into a puddle at some point was pretty daunting.  I had to come up with some kind of verbal break that would allow me to get my legs under me when I found myself overcome with emotion.

The solution came when I was on my third revision on Thursday night.  I had planned to say a few words about my dad, who had looked forward to Katie’s wedding since she was a kid, but who died in 2014. 

Late in his life he began to get very emotional on big occasions.  My sister and I had both discussed how I was following in his footsteps. So I got the idea to mention his weepiness, and then to say that I was tougher than him.

And the line came to me: “So I just want everyone to know that if I appear to be getting too emotional, or maybe even coming close to tears at some point in this speech, it’s only because… of how expensive this all is.”

I went back and forth on this, because I think it’s pretty funny, but some might take it as tacky for the bride’s dad to complain about the cost of the wedding, AT the wedding. 

But I realized what it would allow me to do.  Whenever I got really choked up – and I KNEW I would – I could take a deep breath, and choke out the words, “Oh, this is so expensive!”  If that got a laugh, it would buy me a few seconds to regain control. 

I was really nervous as I started the speech, because if the first line didn’t get a laugh, my strategic bail-out follow-up joke was out too, and I was truly screwed.  But God bless those people!  The first line landed, and I felt a wave of relief.

And sure enough, when I hit a tough spot a few minutes later, I croaked out a tearful, “This is really so expensive,” and that broke the tension.

Near the end, I nearly lost it again, and there was enough water in my eyes that I had to take my glasses off and wipe them.  I said, “It’s not just the cost of the wedding.  I had to buy this suit, and this tie, and these shoes, too.  I’ll probably never wear this stuff again!”

They responded again, and I took a few deep breaths, and took it into the home stretch!

Again, this feels self-indulgent, but I haven’t had time to think or write about anything else for the last week.  For anyone who is still interested and reading this, below is the text of my toast speech.  (I screwed up a few details as I read it – with my two temporary breakdowns – but I got pretty close to reading it as planned.)

Now that things went so well, I truly wish that you all could have been there – and this is the best way I can make up for not inviting you all. 😊 

So please consider this a gift from me to you, on my daughter’s wedding day!

“To preface my comments, I have to explain something:

My dad and Karen’s mom and step-dad have passed, but we feel like they’re here with us tonight. 

Since Katie and Ryan got engaged, my sister Rhonda and I have been talking about my dad, and the way he became so emotional late in his life.  I remember him being pretty stoic when I was a kid, but when he got older, he became very weepy at big occasions.

Of course my sister and I, since we’re part of a well-adjusted family, would mercilessly make fun of him for this. In fact, she did a really hurtful impression of him when he tried to give a “thank you” speech at the 50th anniversary party that she and I put together for him and mom.  It sounded something like [in a lip-quivering, vaguely Curly-esque sound], “mee-mee-mee-mee-mee.”

So she’s been predicting that I would fall apart during this speech the way that dad would, if he were here. 

Well, I am tougher than my dad.  So I just want to let everyone know that if at some point tonight I appear to be getting emotional, or even on the verge of tears, I want to assure you that that is only because… of how horrifically expensive this all is! 

That’s an inside family joke: we also used to make fun of how cheap dad was. 

So… I’ve had 24 years to prepare a father-of-the-bride speech for my daughters, but to be honest, I’ve been putting it off.  My wife and I have figured… we don’t want them to go away, so maybe if we don’t prepare, they’ll just stay.

But then Katie meets Ryan, and he’s [with air quotes] SO great, and she falls in love, and now I’ve got nothing! 

But despite my lack of preparation, it’s not hard to think of great things to say about Katie and Ryan.

As some of you may know, Katie had a serious health challenge when she was born.  She had two major surgeries in her first 3 months, and spent several long stays in the hospital by the time she was 5. 

But that experience gave her such a heart for kids, and for helping them — so much that by the age of 5, she knew that she wanted to be a pediatric nurse.  That’s amazing. 

Especially when you consider that at 5, I was toggling back and forth between “cowboy” and “secret agent,” with a close third option of becoming Chicago Bears running back Gayle Sayers.

I achieved none of those 3 goals.  But Katie got her nursing degree, and for the last two years she had been the Best Pediatric Nurse in the Southeast United States! (References available after the wedding).  

And since the happy couple is moving to Denver in a couple of weeks, give it until the end of this year, and she’ll soon be the Best Pediatric Nurse in the Mountain West!

You’re welcome, Denver.

The old cliché is true, though: she has grown up so fast!  It seems like just yesterday she was toddling around the house — she had those big eyes and a crooked smile, and somehow her cheeks were bigger than her head! She was the cutest thing we’d ever seen.

And we realized very quickly that she was super smart, so we read to her and helped her learn to write.  And when she was around 2, I thought it was time that I teach her a little Aristotle, and maybe a little Latin, too. 

As one does with one’s toddlers.

So I taught her the logical fallacy of “post hoc, ergo propter hoc.”  And when we had guests over, or were out in public, I’d look into her adorable little face and say, “Sweetie, what’s your favorite of Aristotle’s logical fallacies?”

And she’d say, “Post hoc, ergo procto hoc.”

Which is pretty close for a 2 year old. And then I’d ask, “What does that mean in English?”

And she’d say…[and here I dramatically pointed to Katie.] 

And she blushed and laughed, and said, “After this, therefore because of this!”   

That’s right – it’s a “correlation is not causation” mistake. That’s my girl! 

Soon she was off to grade school – and the day we dropped her off the first time, her mom cried like my dad!  [meemeemeemee!]

Katie loved school and was a great student.  A year flew by, and she was in first grade, and one of her classes had a lesson on international cultures and foods, and each student was supposed to pick a culture to learn about.

Katie picked Mexico.  So grammy and grampy picked up a Mexican-style dress for her in Texas, and on the big day she wore that to school.  When Karen picked her up after class, her teacher said, “I’d never known that Katie is Mexican.”

That’s right: she told her teacher and entire class that she was Mexican! Which was quite a surprise to her Norwegian/English mother, and my hillbilly/German self.

But this might have been an early sign of her method acting abilities, because in 5th grade, she got the lead role of Marie in her school’s production of the Nutcracker Suite, and she knocked that out of the park!   All parental bias aside: she was poised and knew all of her lines. 

She made the other kids in the play look like amateur, 5th grader HACKS!

[I clear my throat.] If any of you are here tonight, I’m sorry about that.  But you know I’m right.

Soon she was in high school, where she joined every single club in sight.  She was such a social butterfly, and she never met a good cause or a group of people she didn’t like.  We were always worried that she was spreading herself too thin, but that girl has a motor like I’ve never seen.  

Soon she learned how to drive, and she took to that the same way she took to school work: very properly.  Her hands were always at 10 and 2; she used the side and rear-view mirrors, and she always used her turn signals.

On one of her first test drives with Karen in our minivan, she drove all the way home, and into the garage.   

Not through the garage door — I mean, INTO the side of the garage.

As I was writing a large check to a contractor to re-attach the side wall to the sill plate, I thought to myself, “Well, at least I’m getting some good material for my father-of-the-bride toast speech in the future.”

When it was time to choose a college, she chose the finest university in Christendom: the University of Florida.  I don’t say that to put down anyone here tonight who may have gone to some “safety school.” But c’mon.

Anyway, at UF she joined every single club in sight, including a Christian sorority — Go Theta Alpha!  (Oddly enough, though, she didn’t join the Hispanic Students Association.)

Most importantly, she joined the Gator Marching Band!  And that’s where she met Ryan.  She played cymbals and he played marimba.   

I don’t want to brag, but years after the exploits of Emmitt Smith and Tim Tebow will have been forgotten, people will still talk about the quality cymbal and marimba playing during the Katie and Ryan Gator Band years!     

To sum Katie up: she’s a great young woman, she loves God, she has a huge heart.  And I don’t have to tell you how beautiful she is, because… look at her.

You’re welcome, Ryan. 

Of course I don’t know as much about Ryan’s early days: 

I don’t know if he had normally proportioned cheeks when he was a toddler.

I don’t know if he ever came out to his classmates and teachers as Mexican-American.  

I don’t know if he’s ever ploughed a vehicle into his parents’ house.

I do know that he also became a Gator, which speaks well of his intelligence and character.

Of course no father is generally inclined to think that anyone is worthy of marrying his daughters. But in Ryan’s case, Karen and I have been won over.

We’ve seen how happy Katie is when she’s with him.  He has an easy-going, caring way about him, and he has an important quality in a husband: patience.  

I’ve watched as Katie and her mom have laid out the plans for this wedding in our dining room, the table covered with checklists and color swatches and diagrams – it looked like plans for the Normandy invasion.  

But Ryan played along, dutifully looking interested when I have to assume he was as lost and confused as I was.   He mostly watched, because Katie was in her organizing frenzy, and you don’t want to step into that buzz saw or you’re likely to lose a limb! 

But when she asked for an opinion on something, he would actually have one!  What kind of flowers do you like?  What colors should the suits be?  Does this invitation look better than this one? 

Now if he was actually interested, that’s a good sign – you two will be great together. 

But if he was just going through the motions, because it made her happy to get his opinion, that’s an even better sign.  Because if there’s anything a good husband needs – and write this down, any single men here — it’s to love his wife enough to feign interest in what she wants him to be interested in.

I’d like to welcome Ryan into the family.  He’s the answer to a lifetime of our prayers. 

I’ve been a professor for 30 years, and I’ve seen a cavalcade of bozos and weirdos in my classes, and I shudder to think of Katie with any of them.

In fact, if you’d told me back in the Gator Band days that Katie was falling for a musician, I would have flashed to Axl Rose and a heroin addiction. 

But thank God… it was Ryan, and his marimba!

All kidding aside, there’s an old saying that goes, “When your children find true love, parents find true joy.  Please raise your glasses and join me in a toast to Ryan and Katie Crowe: here’s to your love, and our joy!” 

Ryan & Katie Crowe, 7/15/22

(and for the moment, at Stately Simpson Manor, who cares about 2024!)

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