I have been having nightmares about whether I am psychically strong enough to start behaving maturely when a daughter gets engaged. (Let alone married!!) There should be a gym to go to for this. That way I’d swim and work out early in the morning and then drop in to join the crowd of anxious fathers-of-the-bride undergoing emotional maturity training. Oh well, perhaps it’s just as well that I am unaware of such a program.
You see, I am blessed with a wife who sculpted a work of art in our close family and she especially engineered warm relationships between me and my daughters. I cherished every single moment of their childhood and the cry “Daddy, come here, I need you” was like music in my ears. (It still is but sadly, I am less able to solve today’s problems.) So naturally, the arrival of a new man in a daughter’s life is a bit traumatic for me. Okay, a lot traumatic!
Look, let me be frank about this. People will say, “Hey, calm down, you’re not losing a daughter, you’re gaining a son.” Yeh, right! The basic Biblical truth about it is simply this: Some ungainly youth you’d never heard of 12 months ago is ripping your daughter from the bosom of your family. That is all there is to it and there’s no point in you trying to talk me out of it.
Think of it: Rebecca left her father, Bethuel’s house, to marry Isaac. Do you ever see a Biblical verse describing Rebecca going back home to the Bethuel ranch for Thanksgiving? Rachel left her father, Laban’s house, to marry Jacob. Did she ever bring her husband and kids back to visit Mr. and Mrs. Laban?
For heaven’s sake, if you still doubt my rationality, ask yourself, who takes whose name? My daughters meet this youth who bought his first razor last week, and all of a sudden, they’re trying out his last name to see how it sounds with their first name. “Goodbye Lapin.” That’s what they’re thinking. “That venerable old name served me well enough for the first 19 or 20 years of my life, but now, goodbye. I’m getting my own last name.”
It is NOT your own last name, dear daughter. It is the last name of some guy we’ve only just met.
Anyway, I tell you all that only in order to tell you this. Lapinette #4, Ruthie, has just become engaged to be married. (see how calm I sound.)
Ruthie just agreed to marry Asher Abraham in New York where they both live and work. His folks emigrated to Israel many years ago but he came back to the United States when he was but a 17 year-old, and made his own way. Susan and I have met him and spent time with him during each of the occasions that work has taken us to the east coast over the past 6 months or so and we have come to trust him. Does that sound like a strange way for a girl’s father to put it?
What do you want me to say? I love him? That would be absurd. I barely know him. But if I’m right about the trust, the love will come. Trust me.
In a way important to Susan and me, Asher has quickly taken to Ruthie’s siblings and, they, outstanding judges of manhood that they are, have taken to him. He has been kind to them and considerate to the whole family. He really does seem to be what we call a “mensch.” That is the Jewish word for someone who is ethical, decent, and admirable. Sort of like the way Rudyard Kipling, wrote in his marvelous poem “If” – “you’ll be a Man my son!” A mensch is someone you could grow to love.
We are blessed with two other amazing sons-in-law. They are mensches too. What is more, they were smart and mature enough to see beyond my emotional immaturity and reckon maybe I’d one day turn into a worthy father-in-law. Asher is a fitting inductee to this club of noblemen.
Note to future Lapinette suitors: Things will go more quickly for you if you make certain to read our books and listen to our Genesis Journeys CD series earlier in the relationship rather than later. However we hold no grudges.
You know how there is a website for every interest these days, right? Well, religious Jews have one for announcing a happy event, known in Hebrew as a ‘simcha’. If you’re having a really slow day, here is the link to Ruthie’s announcement placed by sister Miriam. Among the pictures is one on the rowing boat in Central Park where he proposed to her.
Note to future Lapinette suitors: A boat is the RIGHT place to propose to a Lapin girl.
They are getting married in early February in New York which gives me a good few weeks to work on my emotional maturity. I must learn to be gracious at my daughters’ weddings. I must learn to be gracious at my daughters’ weddings. Oh forget it! I’m going to the gym.
I love these poignant lines from Longfellow—so applicable to my family—
And the ancient Arrow-maker
Turned again unto his labor,
Sat down by his sunny doorway,
Murmuring to himself, and saying:
“Thus it is our daughters leave us,
Those we love, and those who love us!
Just when they have learned to help us,
When we are old and lean upon them,
Comes a youth with flaunting feathers,
With his flute of reeds, a stranger
Wanders piping through the village,
Beckons to the fairest maiden,
And she follows where he leads her,
Leaving all things for the stranger!”