I have just finished writing a wedding speech for an old friend. It is the father’s speech and I have spent a number of hours doing it.
It is an honour and a privilege to be asked to pen such a thing. It is also a great responsibility that can prompt procrastination. I have been prone to procrastinating over very important deadlines in the past and this last thing was promising to be no different. The day of my father’s funeral saw me putting his eulogy together as late as that very same morning. Luckily for me, both speeches turned out to be worthwhile.
I am not going to be watching my friend deliver the Dad Speech. He said that he will get me a copy of the video, so I’ll see it later. My own Dad Speech, I have revisited many times in my memory. I was sending off a father into the great unknown and I was trying to do it in style. I wanted to make ’em laugh and then make ’em cry.
I kept looking over my shoulder towards his tiny coffin whilst imagining his knowing roll of his eyes; he wouldn’t have asked for such a send-off. But that was my time as well as his. I needed to say the words and I needed him to hear them.
As the last utterance slipped slowly into the hushed church, I heard the deep exhalation of breath, the relieved sniffle of a handkerchief being called into action, and I thought I heard a nod of gratitude coming from the space that he used to inhabit.
Words can express. Words can build bridges between the past and the present. Words can help to build love.
I sat in the sunshine of my friend’s courtyard and read through the words that I had written for him. I made a few ‘on the spot’ corrections, but read it all through. He had what is common in today’s world, a broken relationship, a new family, but still that bond of love and care remained. It was my task to let the words recreate those decades of love from afar, of years of trying to do the right thing for a daughter who was being raised by others.
When the final lines were read, I was relieved to see that he was smiling and crying at the same time. He told me how much he appreciated what I had done and that it had captured everything that he had truly wanted to say.