My lovely daughter Charlotte was married on 1st March 2014. It was a day full of love, laughter and specialness. And as the mother-of-the-bride I was honoured to give a speech. Thought I’d share it here with you.
photo courtesy Dearheart Photos
Life’s a funny old thing don’t you think? Takes you places you never imagined, puts you into situations to learn from, and just in general shakes the living “sweetness” out of us all.
Today, 29 years and 1 day ago, Charlotte Louise came into the world. And as many of you may or may not know, Charlotte’s emergence was problematic, requiring the kind of strength that until then I had never imagined, or indeed knew existed. Now while technically Mike and I shouldn’t really like each other very much any more, today I would like to raise my glass and offer him thanks for providing the three of us with that strength. Cherish this moment, Mike, because I’m not going to say this again, but honestly, I don’t know if we’d have gotten through those days without you.
So what is with that 29 years and 1 day reference? Well clearly it refers to Charlotte’s birthday. Yesterday Charlotte turned 29, and once again I raise my glass to say Happy Birthday, Charlotte!
Over the 29 years and 1 day of your life, there have been many, many days when I’ve not seen you. But there is only 1 day I have missed that carries and will continue to carry great sadness and regret in my heart. And that day was the most important day of your life, the day of your birth. Now while of course I understood, and will always understand the urgency for medical attention to save your life, being denied the chance to see your little face, or have your fingers curl around mine until the following day. . . there are no words.
It seems pretty ironic then that the second day of your life, 29 years ago today, would have been the very first time I not only saw you, but could also fully and completely, welcome and absorb you into my life.
Today then I find myself in a slightly different position. Yes, of course I can see you, but this time far from welcoming you, I’m metaphorically letting you go. It’s hard to believe that the little girl who I first met in an incubator is now before me, so beautiful in her wedding gown, about to go out to form her own family, to build a life, and grow old with the man of her dreams.
Remembering you concealed in a plastic box, tubes attached and oxygen directed towards your face, affirms for me how you have learnt to fight and survive from day one, not just to live, but to become part of this great society we call life. And boy, was it hard at times.
Yes, we’ve laughed together, we’ve yelled together, and at times we’ve even cried together. And while those moments were at times down to a battle of wills, equally they were heightened as you gave everything you had to not only win gold when representing Western Province Cycling, but also to complete the Argus cycle tour, something I would imagine very few of us here today would even contemplate doing, let alone know what to do with an inner tube!
It is so hard to believe that the little girl in the plastic box who went onto wear splints, and who only learnt to walk when she was almost 5 – or was it 6? – could achieve such amazing highs. You deserve those medals, Charlotte, and oh so many more.
So here you are now, amongst your friends and family, no longer Charlotte M, now Charlotte G Advice, well I can offer you little. Other than to remind you to keep dreaming, keep achieving, keep writing, keep trying everything and anything that is sent your way – legally of course! – but mostly to always stay in touch.
Al, now it’s your turn. Traditionally I understand it’s the father of the bride’s job to threaten your life if you do anything to hurt his daughter. I am today putting forward a new tradition that I have no doubt will be embedded into Google search engines for centuries to come.
And that tradition, Al, is the mother of bride’s right also to threaten the groom’s life should he ever hurt her daughter. No pressure there then. Message delivered. Mother of the bride happy.
Charlotte and Al, today you begin a journey. A journey of who knows what, that will take you who knows where. There will be times when you will want to pummel each other into the ground, and you know what that’s fine. It’s how you deal with those moments that will create the bond and strength of your marriage.
A wise person once said – clearly I missed this meeting – that going to bed on a bad word should be avoided at all costs. Maybe that’s something to remember.
I’ll end with one final piece of advice. The mistake many couples make is not presenting a united front when dealing with their children, peers or family. Without doubt by being united you will overcome much, but always try to remember that being united requires that all important compromise.
One final time then I ask you all to raise your glass with me as I stand here today, unbelievably happy, probably uncontrollably emotional, but oh so very, very proud of you, Charlotte Louise.
To Charlotte and Al!