Today is the birthday of my one and only son. (Allow me a brief moment to gush?)
How do I give tribute to this young man who brought so much joy and love into my life and now continues to do so, bringing a beautiful young woman into my life as my soul-daughter and his new wife? I've already blogged about the Mother to Son Blessing I wrote for him at Christmas 2014, intentionally releasing him to this new life. I've blogged and written poems at various points in his life (click on the age links here if you want to wander through those memories):
At age 12 as he was learning to play guitarBut, perhaps, the best tribute a mother can give a son should be on his wedding day. So today, on his 23rd birthday, here is the entire Mother of the Groom speech written for their July 31 wedding. I didn't share all of this then because some of it was just a little too personal in that moment, but today you can read "the rest of the story" - as I remember it.
At age 13 when I didn't let him go to Jr. High Band Camp
At age 14 that great year with the crazy mountain bike trek we took
At age 15 on that delay-ridden flight to Nashville for his cousin's wedding
At age 17 with a parent's emotion of leaving him at university
At age 20 when he released his first CD
At age 21 when we spent Christmas in Hawaii, scuba diving and all
Mother of the Groom Speech
I will never forget the day Andrew picked me up from the Abbotsford airport and said he had some important news. We weren’t five minutes into the trip when he announced, “I’ve got a big secret but you can’t tell anyone. I don’t know how you’ll feel about this, but it’s going to happen, so I hope you’ll be okay with it.”
I’m already smiling but before I can even take a breath, he plows right ahead and blurts out: “Rebecca and I are going to start dating.”
Then he pauses.
I just smile wider and say, “Oh, good! I’ve already told three of my friends that you two were going to eventually get together, so it’s about time.”
He nearly ran off the road. “Really? How’d you know?
I just shrugged and kept smiling.
“So, you’re okay with this?” he asks.
“Of course. I already love her, so I am very okay with this.”
And then we both smiled very widely for the rest of the trip back to Langley.
The rest is history and here we are! It is such a privilege to have all of you here together celebrating the covenant Andrew and Rebecca made today. Many of you have traveled a great distance and you honor us by being part of this special event.
I want to specifically thank some special people by name who have influenced Andrew’s life.
Oly & Dianne Boersma, Garry & Marlene Quiring, Arnie & Cheryl Miller. You are part of the reason Andrew is the man he is today. Thank you for being role models and friends, for being there for us through thick and thin, standing by us on the worst day of our life and for being here now on the best day.
And I also want to thank my new husband, Henry, for being here, supporting me as I release my only son into married life. He’s been in your corner, Andrew, countless times, praying for both of you every night, and coaching me quietly on how not to be a helicopter mom, hovering too much!
A huge heart embrace to my Nickel brothers and their wives and families: Jim & Shelia, John & Kathryn, Steve & Wanda, and to my Harback family: Brad & Tina and my parents-in-love, Roy and Lila Harback. We have laughed together, grieved together, grown together and you have been encouragers, prayer partners and wise advisors. You have loved us beyond measure and your influence in Andrew’s life is priceless. I am so glad we are family!
I’m sorry my parents couldn’t have lived long enough to be a part of your life, Andrew, but I think your Grandpa Nickel would be honored that you’re following in his footsteps writing songs and poems.
And my deepest thanks to the parents of the bride: Bill and Karin, you welcomed Andrew into your home during his first year away from his own home and he has been welcomed into your whole family. From the very beginning, you have given Andrew and his friends a safe and welcoming place, not only in your home but also in your heart and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. By the way, I did send him monthly rent money, so if he still owes you any, you’ll need to take that up with him.
Seriously, though. You have given both Andrew and I a most beautiful gift, sharing your daughter with us.
Andrew, I remember so much about your life as an only child I couldn’t possibly shrink it into five minutes so this will be brief. Andrew’s due date was on Halloween 1992, but he tricked us and came three weeks later, a healthy 8 pounds, 15 and ½ ounces. Our first challenge was getting him to go to sleep at a decent hour. Apparently this is still an issue.
I remember your first Halloween as a fireman and making your costumes almost every year after that as you circulated through being Zorro, Fozzie Bear, Batman, Pinkbeard the Pirate, Obi Wan Kenobi, Link from Legend of Zelda, A Tree Pokemon, a Pumpkin, Elvis, Hippie, and Ninja. A career in cosplay really could suit you well.
I remember grade one where you held the hand of your buddy on vaccination day so he wouldn’t be afraid of getting his needle. I remember the day you graduated from grade six and wouldn’t let me hug you in public any more because you were in Junior High now! I remember how your dad tried to make you clean up your room and how you would dog it until he’d do it himself, how he made you study for your driver’s exam so you could get your learner’s license on your 14th birthday and your full license on your 16th birthday. Then it was like you announced, “I can take it from here, I’ll let you know if I need anything.”
I remember you dragging me up Jumping Pound Ridge on our mountain bikes and how I wanted to quit and you prayed so fervently for God to give me strength and we did it, even though it took so long your dad had reported us as missing. I remember that trip to Mount Baker when we first played ping pong and I beat you soundly and saw that look of respect in your eyes. You had to keep playing me until you finally won a game – what was it, game 17? Then you said we could quit.
I remember the countless trips to the hockey arena for your practices, to the ski hill for training and competition, to the store for new equipment because you outgrew yours so fast, to Long and McQuade so you could try out the new guitars. And I remember the multiple visits to the emergency room and that one day when I got the call I didn't want from the Ski Patrol telling me you'd been injured during the Moguls Competition and were in an ambulance on your way to the hospital. Those were four very difficult days waiting to ensure your spleen would survive. I'm so glad your body was designed to heal itself!
I remember taking you to Langley for university, seeing you embrace every new situation with excitement and anticipation. I love hearing you make your plans and tell me about your writing. I love seeing how you make friends and keep them and how you brought your crew to Calgary every New Years.
I remember the honor it was to have you walk me down the aisle at my own wedding last August and the great touch of carrying a shotgun over your shoulder during the rehearsal. And how you poked at my "carefully crafted eloquence" in your stellar, perfectly-timed, comedic speech, welcoming Henry to the family, making us all laugh until we cried.
I remember all the trips, the parasailing in Europe, the camping trip to Missouri, the ski competitions and hockey tournaments, the plays and skits you starred in, the music you write and sing so beautifully, the great friends with whom you create and have fun and surround yourself. I remember your kindness and love. Always your love.
Andrew, you have become the man your father and I always hoped and prayed you would become. Your dad would be so proud of you. You are positive and funny, articulate and gifted. You are observant, hard working and fun to be around. You make loyal friend and you are a treasured son. I am so honored to be your mother and so glad that you and Rebecca have chosen each other.
Rebecca – I adopted you as my soul-daughter even before you and Andrew began to date. You have been a strong, steady presence in Andrew’s life. You are gracious, beautiful, organized, great with kids of all ages and you have brought so much joy into our home. I am so glad you’ve chosen to become my daughter in love. You’ve enveloped us into your family and it is with great delight that I welcome you into our family.
May God give you both the desires of your hearts as you honor him.
Will you all please stand with me and drink a toast to Andrew and Rebecca.
Well, there you have it. Heart on my sleeve and all. A mother's joy. Happy birthday, Andrew. Even though it's still a month before we can be together, today on your special day, I raise my glass to you, my heart so full of gratitude to God for all the time we've had together and for the promise of the years to come. I love you to infinity plus one.
I thank God every time I think of you. In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy… being confident of this, that God who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:5-6)