From Chicken Soup for the Father & Daughter Soul

Solemn Images

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.


God was certainly gracious to us that Sunday. He exercised his authority over the outdoor wedding ceremony, creating the day beautiful and memorable, making all witnesses a bit godlier, the food a bit tastier, and the music perfect in tempo and tune. To answer our additional prayers, God painted the skies a delicate blue and accented them with billowing chiffon clouds. He spiced the air with September crispness. While most leaves were still anchored on their trees, a few strays floated to carpet the green grass with complementary and contrasting colors.

Jennifer had anticipated her wedding day since she skip-marched on other lawns, playing bride with a white pillowcase on her head and an incandescent little-girl smile on her face. She was always a very special daughter, a dependable “stand-up” kid, a great source of joy and pride as Elaine and I watched her grow. We shared Jen’s birth cries and smiled through her first steps, her first words, her first giggles. We played tooth fairy and homework professor. We beamed through school plays, bat mitzvah and graduations. We laughed with her and her little friends, and we shared their lives’ anguishes.

My daughter deserved God’s perfect day—a day she shared with her David, extended families and friends, a devoted teacher, and her heritage. After all, Jennifer, God and life itself rank high on our pantheon of blessings.

It was my serious, life-threatening illnesses that helped forge the steel of Jen’s character and bonded us to life— and for life. While photographers captured images of the ceremony and reception on tape and film, Elaine and I revere mental images of the day. And they will warm us forever.

As I escorted my radiantly beautiful, white-gowned daughter to meet her groom, I thanked God for the day and for our good health. And I remembered so many stress-filled days and nights the three of us shared in hospital emergency rooms, a rehabilitation facility, nursing homes, a burn unit and two hemodialysis centers. The Gold family knows that life isn’t always easy and fair. But Elaine and Jen were always at my side, cheering me on. They were there in the dark of my blindness, when my left leg was sawed off, and when my heart beat like a Buddy Rich drumming extravaganza. They were with me— twice—when caring doctors resuscitated me, and when I endured open-heart surgery and numerous infections, praying each time for God to allow me to share Jen’s wedding day.

Jen and I smiled and kissed as I led her to David, under a ritual wedding canopy enriched by messages hand-printed, embroidered and painted by loved ones. Rabbi Peter Kasdan, Jen’s longtime teacher, married the couple in an inspiring three-ring ceremony: the bridal couple’s platinum wedding bands and a special community ring, one of a dozen saved from Jewish ghettoes of Eastern Europe during the Holocaust. (In those terrible times, new brides and grooms married their fragile communities as well as themselves.)

And so, that Sunday in suburban New Jersey, happy guests and God witnessed a solemn service uniting two lovers—the same God who saw me past death to become part of their living, loving glory during the autumn of my life.

Jen shared her second dance with me. The song was “You Are So Beautiful to Me.” As we limp-danced, she smiled her grown-up incandescent smile.

“Life really is good, isn’t it, Dad?”

I held back my tears and embraced the pretty white-gowned lady even more tightly in my arms.

Ron Gold

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