Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wedding Toast


Here's the wedding toast I gave at the rehearsal dinner of my daughter's wedding on 5/6/11.

My wife was quite worried about me giving a toast. Having a father-in-law who went on and on about some cryptic story on such occasions, she was afraid that I'd take too long, and say the wrong things.

Finally the worry got the best of her, and she decided that we'd do the toast together. I, trying to be a good sport (which is the only way to be as the bride's father), said "sure, let's do it." And further, so that I could give her every opportunity to do it as she saw fit, I said, "what do you suggest?"

"Let's start when she was born." At which point tears started streaming down her face. One tear led to another, and soon tears started coming down my face too. Soon I put on my rational cap and said, "maybe if we analyze why we can't do this we'll be able to do it. She responded, "It is just that I love them both so much." With that, the idea of us doing the toast together ended. So now let's toast to Melissa and Eric from Linda and me.

I'd like to say a few things about Melissa and Eric. What I like best about Melissa is what a nice person she is. Not long ago I brought a friend to see Melissa in her office. He remarked, "wow, she's not only a professor, but such a nice kid!" While the rest of her family had few social graces, she was always in the back seat of the car reading and rereading all the Sweet Valley High books.

What I like best about Eric is that he's not attached to his preferences. That's a Buddhist statement which confused me when I first heart it. I thought at first that it means to not have preferences, but no, it just means that you need to be ready to change your preferences when life changes (as it does moment by moment). So if you go into a store to buy a red tie, and they don't have any red ties, then you simply look at what is available and get another tie. Or perhaps go to another store. But you don't go postal. That accomplishes very little.

In 1999 my mother had a memorial service for herself. About six of the people who came are no longer with us. The last person who passed away was my cousin Larry. He was quite dismayed that I liked Buddhism better than Judaism (yes, a preference). So I decided, in memory of Larry, to start reading the Talmud.

First I read "think with your heart." I had no problem with that. In fact, I had asked my almost 5 year old grandson to let us know what that meant, but he said he wouldn't be my assistant on stage. He did put his hand on his heart, a gesture I'll never forget.

Just when I thought I had the secret of living the good life, I read a seemingly contradictory aphorism: control your passions. How can I do that, I thought, if I'm going to think with my heart? Ok, I thought, I'll think with my heart, but not really follow what it tells me. Is that what the Talmud is saying?

Very confused, I searched in the Talmud for the answer... and found it. It says not to pass up any opportunity to enjoy life. Rather than a black and white prescription for living, I was reminded that living the good life is a complex juggling act that takes constant vigilance.

It appears one of my sisters is telling me to cut this short. Oh, no, she's telling me to keep going.

In any case I'm almost done...

The other day I walked past the living room and started watching an old movie on TV. A young kid had kissed this beautiful woman while she was sleeping, and then the woman ran off. An older man finally declared his love for the woman. Everyone thought that he had been the one to kiss her. He said, "now I've lost the woman I love for something I didn't do." The young man said, "We have a question of love and truth here. When the two are together, it is very strong."

Like in the movie, Eric and Melissa have both—love and truth. Much much more than what John Lennon and Paul McCarthy coined as "all you need is love," which will be played as we dance at the wedding...

Here's a toast from me for Eric and Melissa.

1 comment:

Sheila said...

i've forgotten how to do this, but congratulations to the bride and groom and you and Linda. Good job, on Melissa and on the toast.