Toasting My Son and His Bride

17 03 2017

Some thoughts on this coming weekend – celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day and the wedding of my son…

As the Father of the Groom, I am obviously excited to be part of this wonderful celebration. But I have stayed in the background through most of this process. There have been reception decisions, food tastings, dress fittings, showers, etc. I have endeavored NOT to be Father of the Groom-ZILLA! And I think I’ve succeeded.

This weekend is for Anya and John. Tomorrow is their day, and I will be smiling from ear to ear the entire time… reveling in the many beautiful moments. But as I have explained to Anya and John – well, mostly Anya – the rehearsal dinner was my night.

It’s not their night, it’s mine. So I told everyone last night to fasten their seat belts… I had some shit to say!

Some of my thoughts…

The Groomsmen – Only one thing to say about this group… there has never been a more unsavory collection of characters roaming this earth.

Over the past ten years or so, I have seen and heard some crazy stuff coming from my basement… and I know these guys have been responsible. Myself, my wife and Colin will be sad when Johnny is no longer in our home. But some people will be very happy… the guys who pick up our recycling every week! There will be a substantial weight drop in beer bottles alone.

These are all good men and great friends to my son, and I am very thankful for that. I am sure they clean up nice and will be resplendent on Saturday, as they support their friend on his special day.

But no one will be looking at you guys much. Not at all, really…

The Bridesmaids – The eyes of the wedding attendees will all be looking left at the most beautiful bridesmaids ever assembled. A wedding is a special day, full of so much fun for the bride and her bridesmaids – hair, make-up, maybe a little champagne. It will be an awesome day.

And Anya chose all of these women because “she can’t say ‘I do’ without you”.

And from what I’ve heard about bridesmaid duties, they all have a very important job on Saturday: holding Anya’s dress up when she has to pee. Is that true? I think I read that in a magazine or something…

I am grateful for all they have done for Anya, and for their presence and support for the both the bride and groom.

New Family – Last night, I officially welcomed the Cervinos into my family.

Colin, John and I have been lucky to have one wonderful woman in our life, now we have five more! So to Candy, Martina, Candace and Aleena, welcome! Anya too, of course. But I will talk about her later.

We are looking forward to many good times and traditions in the coming years.

Mother And Son – One of the best moments in a person’s life is the realization that their parents are proud of them. To this day, when something positive happens in my life, I think about calling my Mom and Dad

My Mother was very proud when I chose Robin to marry me. Or really, when she finally broke down and agreed. Some say I tricked her, but that’s a story for another day.

Johnny’s Mother is very proud of his choice as well.

All About Anya – In December of 2007, my son went on a high school retreat weekend called Kairos.
The weekend ended with a closing ceremony in the school chapel with the parents sitting in the back. I remember very vividly, sitting there thinking, “Who’s the little redhead sitting with my son? Never saw her hanging around before…”

That was our first glimpse of Anya and the beginning of a journey that shifts into high gear tomorrow.

In the scheme of things, Anya was just a kid when we saw her that night. And we have watched her grow to be an exceptional, young woman. She is beautiful, smart and funny, and has always been very respectful to our family. Now I’m wondering how John landed her… did you use the same trick I did to get your Mom?

Over the years I’ve learned a few things about Anya. For example: don’t say “God Bless You” until at least the third sneeze. And some people don’t know this, but she starts to make her bed before she gets out of it. That’s talent!

Anya is the perfect match for Johnny, and I know she will continue to support and challenge him. They are a good team. A great team. Johnny, like his Dad, has made a fine choice.

As a Father of two boys, I’ve been asked how I feel about having a girl in the family. Anya officially becomes my daughter tomorrow, but I’ve considered her just that for many years. And I love her as my own.

My Son – He’s my offspring, my namesake, and one of the heirs to my throne and vast fortune.

He wishes…

I’m not going to waste words describing John. Everyone knows him… how can you not? He’s one of the biggest personalities in any room he enters. WHERE DOES HE GET THAT?

That’s exactly what I meant when I said that Anya will continue to challenge Johnny.

“John, settle down.” “John, keep quiet.” “John, shut the F%&# up!” Lots of luck to Anya!

And as I am thinking about my son and his future, I think about my past. If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that your priorities, views, and beliefs change over time. Mine certainly have… from the time I was getting married at 27 years old to now – when I’m 57 years old getting ready for my son’s wedding. Colin and John are my inspiration. They have both been my barometer in this ever changing world. For that and many other things, I am forever indebted.

Back to the Kairos weekend where John and Anya met… we were asked to write a brief letter describing John for that weekend, and this is what I wrote.

It is a bit unfair.  Ask me to write something about my son, and then be brief?  I could fill many pages listing the positive qualities you possess.

I admire so many things about you.  The most important thing is that you are good person.  You care about your family, even when you fight with your brother and give your Mom and me a hard time.  You are a “fierce friend”.  You very loyal and honest, most of the time.  You are respectful, about as frequently as I can expect from a 17 year old.  You are artistic and talented, and sometimes inspired.  And I am convinced that you are so smart, and haven’t come close to realizing your potential. 

But you will never, ever beat me in Jeopardy!

I do a lot of preaching to you.  I know that you sometimes think I am a pain.  You hear these words from me a lot – choices, focus, commitment, priorities, maturity, etc.  I may be a pain, but I am really just a father who wants his son’s life to be better than his.  I don’t want you to make the mistakes that I have made.  Part of my job is setting the bar high, and then helping you reach up.

I remember when you were born.  I was standing outside the nursery with Uncle Mark looking at you, wondering and worrying what kind of Dad I was going to be.  Seventeen years later, I still don’t know that answer.  I only know that Mom and I do the best we can.  When you leave our home, I hope you are prepared to meet the challenges of life.  We will be there for help and advice, if you want it.

You are great.

Love you pal, Dad

PS… What are we?

When Johnny was a little boy, I would ask that “PS” question every day. His response has always been, “Best friends in the great whole wide world.”

Right back atcha, buddy. For the rest of our lives.

The Beautiful Game – One of the things John and I have together is soccer. In fact, he is responsible for my love of the game because he played as a kid and I was his coach. We are Philadelphia Union supporters, we are Sons of Ben. He also supports Arsenal, but I can always look back at this photo on the right for hope.

But this weekend, despite a full slate of Premier League matches, we are all supporting one team… Anya and Johnny!!

Some Irish and a Toast – Today is Saint Patrick’s Day, and I would be remiss if I didn’t honor my heritage. It is not a coincidence that Anya and Johnny picked this weekend for their wedding.

May the lilt of Irish laughter lighten every load.
May the mist of Irish magic shorten every road.
And may all your friends remember all the favors you are owed!

Everyone celebrating this weekend will be joining in many toasts. Last night, mine was simple:

To friends old and new, to family old and new, to love… and best wishes to the bride and groom.

To Anya and John! Slainte!

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