My wife and I are blessed to have one daughter — an only child — and we love her a lot. Recently, she got married and so I was able to be the “father of the bride” for my first and perhaps final time. I have to say I enjoyed the experience. Since my daughter is past her twenties, I was also quite relieved that she is officially “off our hands.”

Single people seem to be waiting longer to get married — if they marry at all. Many young ladies of my daughter’s generation have grown up to be quite independent. They date whomever they chose, if they chose to do so at all.

My daughter and her boyfriend had been together for about three years, and they seemed to be quite compatible and perhaps even destined to marry, but the days and weeks kept passing with no wedding bells to be heard.

One night, I was home alone and I got a call from her boyfriend (his name is Bruce) and his tone of voice was very somber and serious. Over the phone, Bruce told me “I have to talk to you” and because he sounded so sad, my first thought was “Oh no — they are going to break up!”

I said “OK” and asked when he would like to talk — and he replied, “Well, actually, I am outside your door.” I opened the front door and there he was, quite to my surprise!

Bill Watanabe and Natalie Watanabe (about to become Chang). (Photo by LA Exposures)
Bill and Ruth Watanabe, Natalie and Bruce Chang. (Photo by LA Exposures)

I invited Bruce into the house, and I could tell he was very nervous and uncomfortable as we sat at the dining table. He then said he wanted to ask for permission to marry my daughter! (My wife was at work during this episode so she missed it!)

My first thought (which I kept to myself) was “Do they still do that?” Because my wife and I both think highly of Bruce, I quickly said, “Of course,” although I was tempted to say, “What took you so long?” But I kept that to myself too.

Bruce was relieved that we approved, and we chatted a bit and laughed, and then he swore me to secrecy because he had not yet “popped the question” to my daughter.

While this “asking for a daughter’s hand in marriage” can be seen as a relic or throwback from a bygone era, it does have some practical and positive considerations. It shows respect for the parents — that their opinion matters, although I doubt if our opinion would have been a “deal-breaker.” It shows a concern that things should be “in order” and there should be harmony between parents and their children.

I have mentioned this episode to a number of my friends, and everyone who has heard this story from me has responded positively — that the groom “does things right” or that he is “a keeper.”

As the wedding date drew closer, my daughter urged me to buy a new suit, even though I already had a good suit of the right color. She said I would be walking her down the aisle and everyone will be seeing me in my suit, so I should get a new suit, which I did. How could I not, since this is my only child ‘s wedding?

So I went to get measured and fitted and got my new suit (which really does look a lot like my old one) and a new shirt and tie. As I walked her down the aisle in my new suit, I realized she was totally wrong. I could see everyone’s eyes as we walked by and they were totally fixed upon the bride. I think I could have been wearing just my underwear and no one would have noticed!

A wedding between two people is a beautiful thing and one always hopes that each wedding is the real thing that will last forever. So now that our daughter is “off our hands,” I find myself thinking whether our hands will be filled someday with grandchildren!


Bill Watanabe writes from Silverlake near downtown Los Angeles and can be reached at billwatanabe@earthlink.net. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

Bill and Ruth Watanabe, Natalie and Bruce Chang. (Photo by LA Exposures)
Bill Watanabe and Natalie Watanabe (about to become Chang). (Photo by LA Exposures)

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