In all my years of living on this earth I am amazed at the evolution of time and what it does for me and others.
When my wife died 26 years ago I had at the time a four month old daughter for which I was in charge of raising her to be a responsible and caring individual. At my wife's grave I promised her that I would do my best in raising our daughter. As the years went by I was involved with the many activities that she participated in. During school there were plays, dance, and Christmas songs to be sung. In the summertime there were soccer and family vacations.
I saw her grow on the outside physically but I looked for what was growing on the inside, of what she would become. She endured the disappointments of not getting her way and she experienced the pain of losing friendships and the passing of family members but through it all she showed a resilience to overcome those obstacles and move forward with her life.
It wasn't easy raising her as a single parent. I missed much of the personal growth - her first steps, some school gatherings - but I enjoyed having lunch with her when she first started school.
If you can imagine all these little children having lunch and then seeing a 35-year-old sitting together with all of them, it would be quite entertaining. The high school years were one of confrontations at times.
She was testing me as to what she wanted to do socially and of course staying out later than the time I set for her.
There were friends that came over to visit and never left. For me it was a constant presence of teenagers cooking in my kitchen and interrupting my quiet time and being on the computer but I saw her become involved and I looked at those emotions that were developing. Soon there were boyfriends and phone calls and as a father the protection of making sure that she would not get hurt came to the surface, like most parents I'm sure.
There were rough times between her and me after she graduated but she was her own person now and she had to test the waters and experience her own theories.
She had to feel those victories and defeats and remember what to do and what not to do.
One day she came by and told me that she thought she had met "The One," the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.
Right away I put up my guard, but in meeting him I saw a responsible young man who was committed to her and would do the right and honorable thing. I also saw a change in my daughter. I don't know if love did that or if she finally realized what was required of her in life.
They began dating and like most couples they became engaged. I was beginning to see the end of one part of my life and the beginning of a new one. The planning of the wedding was one of constant revolving of what could be done or to settle for what the money could provide.
Days before as the wedding neared I was overcome with memories of seeing this little blonde haired child with a smile as big as a mile and eyes that shined, it was overwhelming for me to see that a chapter in my life had closed.
On May 19, the day of the wedding, my daughter was as cool as a cucumber.
She had it all together while her strong willed, determined father was as wet as a noodle. It was, for me, an emotional time. As I took her arm and walked her down the aisle to give her away to her true love, I knew that I had kept my promise to my wife and I felt her presence there as well and I knew that she was happy for our daughter and to welcome this young man into our family.
I listened to their vows and I went back in time to when I got married and to know what I went through they would go through as well, life does that.
As the evolution continues I will see my daughter grow. She wants children and I want grandchildren.
I'll continue to be amazed as to what my daughter becomes. Ashly, I love you; you and I went through a journey together. It continues, but you have a journey with Jeremy now and I wish for you a happy life together.
Green Bay, Wis.