In the Suburbs / Heart-felt: A daughter's Valentine's Day wedding
This year, my wife and I will receive the most beautiful valentine of all -- the opportunity to witness the wedding of our younger daughter, Jeri, to her long-time significant other, Gervasio.
The wedding will be at a courthouse in Ann Arbor, Mich., followed by a meal in their apartment that definitely will be wonderful because Gervasio is preparing it. He's a chef.
This wedding came together very quickly. They decided barely three weeks ago to tie the knot, made phone calls and assured us that there was no wedding to plan -- just a simple, civil ceremony. They didn't want to inconvenience family on such short notice and would plan a reception for sometime in the late spring or early summer.
We couldn't be more thrilled that this is finally happening after an eight-year courtship, and understand that some things take longer than others. Gervasio actually asked for our blessing several years ago, but he was in the midst of a divorce and Jeri wasn't certain what she wanted to do about her future. So we encouraged them to take their time.
But we could see that these two soul mates, who met through Jeri's neighbors -- Gervasio's brother and his wife Imelda -- were clearly in this relationship for the long haul.
And we believed that one day they would seal the deal.
Whenever we're together, it's like listening to a live broadcast of the Rosetta Stone Spanish language program. Gervasio was born in Mexico, and under his patient tutelage, Jeri now speaks fluent Spanish. It's scary, but even my wife and I are beginning to understand more Spanish.
My dad, who is still grieving over my mom's passing in December, was absolutely thrilled to hear the news. He has been with Gervasio and believes he and Jeri will be very happy. His only regret is that he can't attend the wedding.
Both families adore Gervasio and Jeri, and everyone is excited that this wedding is finally happening. While they all would like to attend the ceremony, mostly will wait for the party.
My wife and I have met a lot of Gervasio's family -- some of the family lives south of the border -- and think they're great. We saw some of them in Manhattan when they visited a couple of years ago. We went to the Carnegie Deli -- about 15 of us -- where I was going to treat. But Gervasio grabbed the check before I could and insisted on paying. We protested politely, but he won.
All of Jeri's female cousins have told her that Gervasio is too good a catch to pass up. We think she's realized that since the beginning of the relationship, but it took her a while to move forward. My other daughter even joked that if Jeri didn't do something, she'd grab Gervasio.
My wife loves Gervasio for all reasons food. She hasn't stopped raving about his special guacamole, and whenever they come for a visit, she begs him to make the sacred dip.
I think he is special because of how tenderly he treats Jeri. I remember her early years in Ann Arbor, when she lived alone and was studying at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, about eight miles away. She had dated one other young man from Brazil, and we thought he might be the one, but the relationship ended.
Then Jeri's sister began secretly sharing with us that there was this other man who really seemed very nice from what Jeri told her. We heard nothing from Jeri because she was very private.
But when we finally met Gervasio on a weekend visit to Ann Arbor. He was charming, and my gut told me they were a good fit.
My wife and I are quite content to just be guests at this wedding. While a lot of our friends thought we should be planning everything in Connecticut, Jeri told us that Michigan is home for her and Gervasio, and that's where she wanted to be married and to celebrate.
"That's fine with us," I said. "Just let us know if we can contribute anything."
"You can contribute one thing," Jeri said. "Your presence on Valentines Day."
"That," I said, "will be our great pleasure."
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.