My son, Daniel, got married last week. It was a great occasion and everyone had a great time.
But as the wedding progressed, I sat on the front row looking at him and thinking about his life’s path.
My first memory was my wife crying because she had to leave him at the hospital after his birth because he was jaundiced. “I don’t want to leave my baby,” she said, crying as we left the hospital without him.
Several months later, my wife and I were speeding down the highway trying to get Daniel to a hospital because he was having difficulty breathing. Then he stopped breathing.
I saw my wife crying and speechless. Daniel was limp. For some reason, I reached over and slapped him. He suddenly took a breath and started to cry. Later we were told he was allergic to corn.
Then, there was the tiny shoulder harness and corrective shoes he had to wear for months. Unknown to us, he was delivered into the world with a separated collarbone.
The doctors fitted him with a brace that resembled tiny shoulder pads. He wore it for several weeks. That was followed by him being forced to wear tiny, white shoes, fitted with a metal bar between them, to straighten his feet. It was difficult to watch him try to move with that contraption on.
His sister, Mel, came to mind, too. She is 11 years older than Daniel and had to babysit him many times, much to her dismay. I remember the ferocity of their arguments, but I also remember how protective she was of him. (By the way, she was the main wedding organizer.)
The best man at his wedding was Chris, who has been his best friend since first grade. Essentially they are the same person, except Chris is about 6-feet, 3 inches tall, and Daniel is not. Another longtime friend in his wedding was Terrel. She met Daniel and Chris in the sixth grade and those three have been united in sarcasm ever since.
I thought about my son selecting the runt of a group of puppies and one of the dumbest dogs I have ever witnessed. He named the female dog Rodman, as in former Detroit Piston-Chicago Bulls bad boy Dennis Rodman.
I remember my neighbor accusing Daniel’s dog of impregnating his dog and Daniel jumping out of his skin to explain the impossibility and that Rodman was actually a girl dog. I took a lot of satisfaction in that.
There were times when he would win or place high in academic contests at school and because he didn’t like the attention, he wouldn’t even tell us he was competing or that he had placed. We would find out from teachers or at award ceremonies — some he didn’t tell us about — at the school.
Occasionally, we would find out through slips of the tongue that he had been tutoring needy students or donating blood, not for the money, but because he has a rare blood type and folks would need it.
Then, there was the time when my stepmother died and all Daniel wanted was the chair he sat in when he visited her. He kept the chair until it virtually fell apart.
And the day before the wedding, he brought his mother one of those big snow globe things with an elephant inside. The elephant is a symbol of my wife’s sorority Delta Sigma Theta. The inscription on it said “To Ma, the first love of my life.” She melted.
That same day, he and I stood and looked at each other and he said “How’s it going old man?” We embraced for a second, and I thought: “Maybe I have raised him right.”
As the wedding progressed to the moment of “I do,” I thought about how great his bride was. How personable and charming she was and what a great woman he was marrying. Then I thought, she’s getting one of the best young men I know.
Edward Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @epratt1972.