“Dave” is David Alton Herrington, my father-in-law of right at 24 years (counting engagement time as well). He passed away Monday evening after a multi-year battle with cancer. I’m sad, to be sure, but when I think back to who he was and the time we had together, behind the sadness is a large pool of gratitude. The remainder of this is addressed to him, but public so that others know the positive impacts he had on my life. (I’m also grateful that I did not wait to share this with him; though the words aren’t verbatim, nothing here would be new to him.)
First, thank you for your daughter. Listing the ways she improved my life would likely fall short; from changing my outlook on my own talents, abilities, and worth, to the gift of your three grandsons, to unconditional love, to challenges when I needed it - I am the man I am today, in large part, because of her. A girl does not become a woman of her character in a vacuum; your guidance is a large part of who she is today, and I am forever grateful for that. Besides, without her, I likely would not have even known you - and my life would have been lesser because of that.
Next, thank you for welcoming me as your son. That same guidance that helped Michelle also helped me. From clean laundry back before Michelle and I were even married, to a place to stay when we visited, to places to stay even when we weren’t with you, to trips with you, you spared no resources to make sure that my family had a place to stay and a means to get where we were going. You advised me on investments, and not taking your advice is one of my regrets - you were right on that! You also respected who I was as a man - you didn’t try to change me into you; that meant a lot.
Thank you, also, for being strong. Whether it was in business, advising me about safety issues when we both worked in the field - or whether it was in the face of a body that had decided to turn against you - you showed true tenacity in every circumstance. As my body decides it doesn’t want to do everything it has done in the past, I look to your example to keep pushing it to do what it can. Thank you for applying both strength and resources to enriching the lives of my sons; each one of them can tell me fun times with “Papa and Gran” where they made memories that will be with them the rest of their lives.
Finally, thank you for holding on through this past Christmas season. I know that it wasn’t really in your control per se, but I will always be grateful that we had the opportunity to spend your final Christmas together, celebrating and making memories that all of us will long treasure.
Happy Anniversary to the lady who, sixteen years ago, made me the luckiest man in the world. Whenever I think back to our wedding day, I smile, and not just because of the crazy things my friends did. (I still wonder if they ever got all that bird seed out of the carpet in that room…) We’ve shared lots of good times, and even seen the rare bad times bring us even closer as we walked through them together. I love you very, very much, and am looking forward to spending many more years at your side.
Hey, guess what, babe - our marriage is old enough to drive now!
(As I type this, it is my anniversary where my wife is, but not quite my anniversary where I am. This is a first for us, celebrating on two different continents. While I also hope this is our last year in this position, I am very grateful to God for allowing us to celebrate the last 16 May 11ths together. I’m also grateful to her Dad for giving her this opportunity to see a part of the world she hasn’t seen before, and for raising his little girl into the wonderful woman she is today.)
Fifteen years ago today, there was a ceremony in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a beautiful young woman and a (hmm… clean?) young man became husband and wife. That young man was me, and the beautiful young woman was my bride Michelle. The vows we took were not remarkable; in fact, we discussed it and decided to use traditional vows, which were (to the best of my memory)…
I, Daniel, take you, Michelle, to be my lawfully wedded wife; to have and to hold from this day forward; for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health; I promise to love, honor, and cherish you, as long as we both shall live.
Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with these vows, although it’s a shame that “for richer” part hasn’t kicked in yet. However, I didn’t have a clue as to the amazing journey that these few words would start. On this occasion, in front of God and these assembled witnesses (that’s you, Internet), I would like to offer some additional vows.
I will gladly remain your husband for the rest of my days. You truly complete me; where I'm weak, you're strong, and where you're weak, I'm strong. As we've shared our life together, I have learned to love you more deeply than I ever thought possible. Through each challenge, standing with you has made us stronger, and together we've fought down every one. I cannot remember my life before you, and I do not want to imagine my life without you. You are a blessing from God to me on a daily basis; yes, even in those things I may not want to hear, you love me enough to tell me what I need to hear. You believed I could become more than I was, and you inspire me to become better than I am. I am forever in your debt for the love you have shown to me, and I hope that I can return at least a portion of that to you in the years to come. I love you, and will always love you, as long as I may live.