Standing tall: June is the ideal month to read about one father and daughter's very special "walk" down her wedding aisle.
As his little girl, I see through the pain and see the love he has for his family, his wife and his friends. He stands tall in many ways. Dad fights hard to be the man he is called to be, despite the overwhelming physical pain he endures. He may not have been able to pick me up or hold me like I always wanted, but he gives all he has every day.
Dad never ceases to make me laugh. You can always find him at church with a ton of kids chuckling and fighting to be next in line to do wheelies. You can find him with my sister and me at Disney World, hitching rides through the park, or in the grocery store speeding down the aisles. He once received a speeding ticket in Walmart--who knew?!
More Than Physical
If anything, I am spoiled. Spoiled by his love and affection and willingness to keep fighting each day to be in my life.
My dad shows others that living is more than just being the best physically. People see a handicap as something that holds you back. However, attitude is everything.
Some people can have terrible attitudes, and their lives are more hindered than someone who may have a physical handicap. To my father and my family, living is to stand tall and be all that you can be for God, your family, others, and yourself. My dad has lived and been more adventurous than I ever have.
I tell you this to explain the man I had the privilege of standing with me on the most important day of my life. I would not have wanted it any other way. A new wheelchair allowed my dad to walk me down the aisle standing. For the first time in my life I looked up into my dad's face. I was able to reach up and hug him.
Physically he was able to be what he had been all along: my tall, strong daddy. It's those little moments in life that remain deep in your heart as treasured memories. I remember that my heart was proud as everyone stared at us. We talked and laughed the whole way. In my heart I was thanking him for being so brave all these years, for making me smile and teaching me how to laugh even in the midst of storms.
Step by Step
As one would expect, walking down the aisle I was over-whelmed at the excitement of marrying my husband (AJ Gutierrez), but I was also remembering all the other times my dad had made me feel like a princess.
I remember when I was 9, he surprised my two sisters and me with a trip in a limo to the father-daughter dance. We each took turns riding on his lap as the fathers and daughters danced around us. I felt more like a princess than all of them combined.
I recall the dates we went on to indulge our sweet tooth with Dunkin' Donuts or some country cooking at Cracker Barrel. I also remember him taking me to baseball games with bribes including hot dogs and cotton candy (probably to help distract my mouth from asking questions).
Another time that comes to mind is when he spent his surprise Las Vegas slots win on our family trip to buy us each bowling balls. This included ridiculously multi-colored cosmic bowling shoes (I am talking scary neon orange green yellow fashion suicide shoes). He was so happy, even though we were all highly underqualified to own bowling gear.
When we found family activities we got a little obsessed, especially if Dad could beat us all. We trekked into bowling alleys for the next year looking like a clown family, and enjoying every minute of it, except the part where Dad won every time.
I remembered the times Dad would play softball hi the yard with my younger sister and me. He's always so full of laughter and willingness to bring joy into the lives of those around him.
These are the things I thought of as I proudly stood beside my dad ready to make this big transition in my life. I cannot even begin to tell you how proud of my dad I am. He gave me the strength to put one foot in front of the other.
We joked all the way down the aisle to keep from crying. In so many ways that laughter meant more than tears.
We understood the meaning and depth behind every smile, which masked the emotions on the surface of our hearts. Neither of us has ever been able to act calm in emotional situations. "Two peas in a pod," you could say.
But I knew as I saw the glistening in his eyes that he felt the same as me, a mix of joy and sadness. I knew he was as proud of me as I was of him. I remember talking with him before the wedding, and he was trying to convince me to play an upbeat country song "instead of the sappy one" I had chosen.
I knew he was getting emotional and did not want to cry down the aisle. So there we were, on my wedding day, laughing about my "stinking sappy song" as tears moistened our eyes.
He may have given me away that day, but he will always be my daddy. He stands tall in my heart; I'm glad everyone got to see that.
Megan Weas and AJ Gutierrez were married May 26, 2012, at the Weas home in Clermont, Fla.