I know you have seen the animated movies and heard the fairytales of “happily ever after” romances that come in surprising circumstances and to unsuspecting people. You know the ways that love surprises: It’s the shoe that fits, the kiss that awakens, the love-at-first-sight that breaks down any barriers of social class and distinction.
I would say surprise is certainly the word that describes how your father and I met 14.5 years ago. By the time you read this and understand it, our meeting will seem like something from a fairytale from yesteryear. You see, we didn’t meet in traditional ways like at school or online or through mutual friends. The truth is, as much as your dad doesn’t like to admit this, we met because your Nana played Cupid. I was an intern at her home church, and I met her at a community medical clinic where we were both volunteering. She mentioned your dad, who was living in another city, and, based on my limited information, he sounded very different from me. A few months after I met her, she invited me over after church for lunch. Imagine my surprise (and his!) when your dad was the one who opened the front door! Little did we know, she had invited both of us over that day. She smiled a mischievous smile and headed back to the kitchen, calling out as she went, “Lunch will be ready in about an hour.” Your grandmother managed to pull off a modern day arranged marriage; we were married less than two years later.
Yet despite what you have seen in cartoons and what you have heard in fairy tales, “happily ever after” love stories take a bit of time and attention (and let’s not forget intention) to flourish and grow. We both found ourselves surprised by joy that our opposites, in fact, did attract. We let go of preconceived notions of who we thought we were looking for and relished in the things we had in common. Even in our differences of opinion, we practiced what has become our marriage mantra: “listening with the risk of changing your mind.”
Mind you, we didn’t compromise the important things like deeply shared values and the priorities of family and faith. We have a strong foundation of trust and open communication and honesty, all of which I pray will be non-negotiables in your future relationships. Your dad and I serve other people together; we engage in interesting and enriching conversation together; we laugh together and support each other in tender and trying times. I am truly myself with your dad and he with me. That is a gift of pure joy.
And, in these last nine years, I have been surprised by joy again by watching him be a father to the two of you. Carrying you on his shoulders, watching your impromptu plays and performances, playing games with you, snuggling in bed with you — all of these things endear him more to me. He supports me in my vocation, he encourages you to give your best, and he loves our large, extended family. I have discovered another part of your father by watching him parent you, and this Father’s Day, I give thanks for all the unexpected ways that he continues to surprise us with love in our life together.