The summer of 2013 will be one I’ll always remember. It is the summer that I was privileged to lead the marriage ceremony of my eldest son, Joel, duplicating my father’s role in Linda and my wedding, 25 years ago. Joel got married to a very lovely, gifted young lady from the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. Kathleen has a great family and along with a bunch of Joel’s friends we celebrated at the reception at a vineyard. It does a father’s heart good to hear people say positive things about his son. Even Thomas, younger brother and best man, shared how much he loves his big brother. That was worth the trip in itself.
People keep asking me what it was like to lead the marriage ceremony of a son. I’m still processing it – but initially it felt like just what I do, so, who I do it with doesn’t matter that much. But as Joel and Kathleen signed the register I suddenly realised at a deep heart level that my son was married and our relationship had changed forever. I tweeted later that night the beginning of a haiku. Here is the completed version:
the party is done
and in some strange way I feel
I have lost a son
As our boys have grown up I’ve noticed our relationship changing. In the beginning Linda (primarily) and I were the main providers of everything they needed. That quickly included our extended families and faith community, Grain of Wheat Church-Community. Then the school system and the sporting community contributed to their growing up. But Linda and I remained the ones who had the final say in most things and while we tried to encourage intellectual and personal freedom, we imposed limits to compensate for their limited experience and wisdom. As they grew into teens and adults we became more advisors and encouragers of their decisions – comforters when things didn’t work out, more like older friends. But they came “home” – even when away for summers or years of college.
That hot June Sunday afternoon, watching my son and his bride (my first daughter-in-law) sign official documents, legalizing the commitments they had just made before God and their families and friends – I became aware at a deep heart level that our relationship had changed again. That shift in relationship is bittersweet as the haiku reflects. He’s still my son and my friend but now he’s more, a male, adult peer in an unique way that time will reveal.
As my mind continues to reflect on what happened to my heart that day, it seems to me that Joel left “home” to create a “home” with Kathleen. They are deciding how to make their own home. It’s a bit like Joel becoming a young adult and making decisions on his own. His parents became consultants, along with other friends. By marrying Kathleen it’s like he’s created another level of consulting closer to himself and moved us out a bit. It’s a mysterious separation but yet I still sense a deep bond of love that I always have had with Joel and maybe it’s even stronger. Maybe being invited into the close circle of the marriage ceremony, connected us at a deep level which makes the separation easier. But that’s the way with relationships, we move close and then apart, physically, socially and emotionally. It is the wonderful dance of life and love. A dance that the heart often gets sooner than the head. So, it’s good to listen with…