Dad and daughter take the long walk

First Posted: 1/15/2009

My daughter and I took an important walk together on Saturday - and a short moment later, she was married.
Obviously that's an enormous milestone in her life, but it's also a pretty big one in mine. It was the first trip down the aisle for me on the arm of a daughter.
When Shannon called several months ago to tell me she was engaged, it wasn't a surprise. The occasion had been anticipated for more than a year. And with each passing holiday like Valentine's Day, Christmas and her birthday without the question being popped, Shannon and I would all but convince each other that it would happen soon.
So even though the surprise factor wasn't quite there when Andrew did ask Shannon to marry him, something I wasn't prepared for was.
Almost immediately, as Shannon was telling me how it all went down - Andrew took her to the Grand Ole Opry Hotel in Nashville for an evening with friends and out on the balcony overlooking the indoor riverwalk, where he uncorked the question - my mind flipped through the Rolodex of memories from our years together.
Shannon and I have a slightly different relationship than do most dads and daughters. I first met her when she was a baby, but it wasn't until she was 9 that I became a fixture in her life.
When she was in the fifth grade, we found our song. Actually, it was kind of thrust upon us by a radio station out of Austin, Texas. As I took Shannon to school each morning, right at 7:30, that station always played the theme song to the movie &#8220Ghost.” The lyrics have nothing to do with a dad and daughter, but it's still the one song that prompts each of us to think of the other.
And on Saturday, during our dance together, &#8220Unchained Melody” is the song we danced to.
I remember one of the first compliments Shannon gave me; she must have been about 10 when she told me that she liked me because I played with her. That playing usually involved pillow fights or tossing a softball back and forth. Hopefully, she knew that I liked her because she liked playing with me, too.
As the teenage years progressed, there were tumultuous times. And few were handled really well. But we weathered them somehow.
Smack dab in the middle of those, Shannon and I agreed that it was time we were officially dad and daughter. That adoption process was far more complicated and intrusive than I ever imagined it would be. But when I finally stood before Judge Jo Ann Ottis in Bay City, Texas, and told her I'd love, cherish and treat Shannon as my own, she smiled ever-so-slightly and said, &#8220That's good, because she is now yours.”
Shannon wasn't with me that day. She'd already signed the necessary papers with a lawyer of her very own - which lent credence to her favorite slogan of &#8220You don't like it? Talk to my lawyer.” Well, on that day at least, she had one.
Now, almost 13 years after the judge allowed me to become her dad, Shannon has added the title of &#8220Mrs.” to her name and a member to our family. She assures me that there's plenty of room in her heart for two men in her life.
I know that Andrew is the right guy for Shannon. And I know that Shannon came to the decision to say &#8220yes” to Andrew using the same path she used when she said &#8220yes” to me 13 years ago. And I know Andrew is as happy with the answer as I was.
All of that helped make that walk down the aisle along that pier in Key West a little easier. It made me think about how our life kind of started fresh nearly 13 years ago, and now it's starting fresh again with a whole new set of chapters.
So far, it's been a terrific book.

- W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 739-4322, Ext. 148, or by e-mail at [email protected].

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