Monday, December 9, 2013

Proposing To The Parents


 “I’d like to marry your daughter.”  Those words slam like a gut punch, even when one is braced for impact, even after training and preparation, even knowing in advance--for years-- that this could happen.  When those words come – no amount of training can soften the blow.  It comes with the shock of a one-two punch.

Children do that, grow up, move on, and as a parent, one can only hope that they are prepared for the challenges of life, prepared to sustain a strong and successful relationship with someone else.  A parent hopes that a child has figured out friendship vs. love, but still we wonder. 

So, after reeling in shock, the critical question comes to the mind, “Why.”   

Now it is the fiancée’s turn to look flummoxed.  “Why?”  The question hung in the air and I clarified, “Why do you want to marry her?” 

The pain of my gut punch was still fresh and I wanted--no I needed--a salve, a balm of some sort, to soften the blow, to soothe the pain.  I wanted to hear something comforting like, “because I can’t function a day without her, ”or “When she is in the room I want to be next to her seeing what she’s seeing, feeling what she’s feeling, doing whatever she’s doing.” I imagined the quintessential, “My love is like a disease, pervading my every physical cell, overtaking my circulatory system, making my heart pump, my blood flow, my lungs heave, my breath shallow.” For was it not Plato that said, “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.”  I never have, but Brian?  Hey, the man is an English major, a poet right?  This is what he does.
The guy’s been to college so I would have approved of a philosophical answer like Aristotle, “Love is composed of a single soul, inhabiting two bodies.”  Or something more in line with his Asian back story, perhaps from the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

All of these responses would have appeased my passionate nature, but instead I received the equivalent of  “because she and I work well together.”  “We feel strongly about the same things, that marriage is more than a contract, but that two people must have compatible goals, and an equal determination to work at marriage to make it succeed.”


I pressed him still, yet eased up, trying to give him an opening, an indication of what I was aiming for.  I said,  “I need to hear that you love her passionately, that you can’t live without her.” 

“Well,” in typical Brian fashion he continued,  “I’m sure I could live, but it would be really hard.”

I backed him into the corner with more jabbing, “But, she is the only one for you, your soul mate?” 


Again?  Really!

He continues, “I don’t necessarily believe that such a concept is rational.”  

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have heard the two of them discuss the philosophical nature of deep abiding friendships and eternal love and I don’t need an update.  

I press in now and I’m pounding relentlessly, “Then you could marry anyone and that would work fine,” and to his credit, much in his favor, he blocked the jabs and he did not cave.  

Again he was insistent, “I’m sure it would be possible to marry someone else and live life just fine, but I don’t want to, I want to marry Dia.” 

The passionate frustration in me peaked!  He was so being Mr. Darcey, both the literary protagonist and the physical man that I live with.  How do we do that—search the world over and marry our fathers?  He was also script perfect with Pride and Prejudice.  How does he seek to pacify and rationalize love and yet insult with intended generosity?

I’m unconvinced that this deep abiding friendship to which he alludes is enough to sustain a long-term relationship that must become what I feel is imperative--an unfeigned, relentless love.

Unfortunately, at that point, he opens himself up for the one-two punch. I  counter, “You’ve missed your calling, You should have been an accountant.” 

To be fair, he had, not more than ten minutes before, phrased his remarks for the benefit of the father of his love who is the critical analyst of the family and whatever was said,  Brian passed with flying colors.  The dear husband, Mr. Darcey (spelled correctly) was convinced.  He was All In, although he still could have waited until 2014 to hand his daughter off. 

But, I am not appeased for I am the one who remembers that little face from first grade coming to me and looking up, insisting that she was ready to get married.  I asked that little blond head beaming with the beatific smile the same question, “Why?”

 And what was her response?  “Because he likes my art and he thinks I’m smart,” –already, the grown-up answer.  Even as a little girl, she understood that friendship first creates a place where love can grow, flourish, deepen and become eternal.   

In the early years of Brian and Dia’s friendship (back when I really liked him), I recall her phoning me after a day of skiing, “Mom, we just clumped in the door, I made it as far as the bathroom before exhaustion cut me down. I am so tired.  Brian is in the kitchen after putting up the skiis, drying out the clothes and starting the fire; he is now fixing supper.  How can I not marry that?” 

And I agreed.   How could a girl not marry that?  That act demonstrated another one of the great and important traits of Mr. Darcey!  Skiing!  No, I mean thoughtful consideration of others.  

In addition, as I have met the Sabey family, it comforts me to see the example of the entire family in putting first the feelings and concern for other’s souls.  It is deeply ingrained in their psyche and that tradition, from Mark & Lisa, their parents,  Grandma and Grandpa, aunts and uncles, including the children,  that is a balm to my heart.

 “Who, if not him?”  That was Mr. Darcey’s counter to me while I was still reeling from the bout.  Indeed, as I sought more peace in my mommy mourning, I reflected on Brian and Dia’s relationship. Brian has time and time again, over the course of their courtship these past three? four? five years, demonstrated the deep friendship that first considers the comfort of the other.  When he sent her off on the mission that was her heartfelt dream since childhood with a “There is a family in Hong Kong who needs you,” and then fully supported her on that mission with his weekly pertinent tales of his own mission lore, or when he encourages her to follow her passion for English, these are proofs of that deep friendship. 

Brian has never--and I must state this emphatically, and not reluctantly-- Brian has never done anything that made me doubt his suitability as that guy, the one who likes Dia’s art and thinks that she is smart.  He gives one hundred percent  because in a great friendship, such sacrifice is reciprocal and from that effort grows deep and abiding love.

And that is when you recognize that you can’t live (the same) without them. 

Most importantly, Brian has worked hard to win me over and I must admit there was one maneuver  that got under the defenses and totally tipped the balance.

The guy does windows.  

Welcome to the family, Brian.

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