When my youngest nephew was married last month, his father took the microphone after the rehearsal dinner to offer the bridal couple a little advice. His poignant, simple story contained a philosophical gift.
'When I was a boy,' my brother-in-law began, taking us back in time, 'my mother asked me one day if I would like to go on a picnic the next day.
I said I would and looked forward to the fun. Then, when I awoke the next morning, I looked out the window and saw that it was raining. I was very disappointed,' the groom's dad remembered.
At about 11:00 that morning, the story continued, the boy's mother said, 'John, why aren't you ready for our picnic?'
'It's raining,' he told her simply, thinking it was obvious that they would not be going on a picnic in the rain.
'Don't you want to go on a picnic?' the mother asked.
'Sure I do,' John replied, puzzled. 'But it's raining. We can't go on a picnic in the rain.'
'John, in England,' his mother said, referring to her native country, 'if one doesn't go on a picnic in the rain, one never goes on a picnic. We can't let a little rain stop our fun. Get ready!'
'What I learned that day, and what I want
you to remember as you begin your lives together,
is that we can't let the rain that surely falls into
every life ruin our fun.'
What followed, John told the assembled diners, was a memorable picnic. 'We sat under a big maple tree,' John remembered, 'under big umbrellas, had our picnic, and talked and talked. It was the most fun I ever had as a boy,' he shared.
John directed his comments to his son and the bride-to-be, but every one of us there for the festivities will remember John's final comment. 'What I learned that day, and what I want you to remember as you begin your lives together, is that we can't let the rain that surely falls into every life ruin our fun.'
John's advice that night was simple but profound. It is the kind of advice I've heard him share with his children as they grew into wonderful adults. It is the kind of advice he has offered me over the many years since my sister made the wisest choice in her life - to marry this good man.
John is the kind of father everyone hopes to have, everyone hopes their children will have, and every man should strive to be. He is the kind of father that we have in mind when we celebrate Father's Day.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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