Reg Henry's granddaughter Matilda Grace Gilpin, aka Tillie the Adorable, making sure Reg is awake.
By Reg Henry Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As a change from the irreconcilable differences that have led to America's political divorce, what we need today is a story about a wedding. It just so happens one is available.
While introducing a wedding into the plot may seem like the sort of cheap ploy a soap opera producer might adopt to whip up interest, this column is not above cheap ploys, as some unkind readers have noted.
Of course, everybody loves a wedding. Women cry to behold the celebration of true love. Men fight back tears to think of the money that could have been spent instead on a good fishing trip.
So let us consider the nuptials of Arielle Silber and Michael Moody, who happens to be my nephew, celebrated on the first weekend in October at Dana Point, Calif.
There's nothing like a wedding for the gathering of the clans, and guests came from far and wide. Although I am possibly biased, the one who came the farthest was also the prettiest girl not wearing a wedding dress: my little granddaughter Matilda Grace Gilpin, aka Tillie the Adorable.
She came from Sydney, Australia, with her parents: my daughter Allison and her husband Critter, aka Christopher. That latter name is used only in formal circles, and even then a formal wedding is not enough for him to be called something sensible, not that Reg is a sensible name for a person either.
The wedding was marvelous, but first a little about Tillie, now age 2. Tillie and her parents shared the hotel suite where my wife and I were staying on the oceanfront at Laguna Beach, just across the road from the Tacos Loco shop run by a guy in a Grateful Dead T-shirt. In other words, everything the human heart desired was there -- sun, sand, sea and tacos.
And Tillie. In the mornings, she would come into our room and climb onto our bed and plant herself about three inches from my face, amazed to see that the usual Skype screen view of Papa suddenly had actual topography, with a nose, a mustache and ears to put a tiny finger on.
And wishing to start a dialogue, with a surprisingly good vocabulary but no skill yet at sentences, she would say, "Hi Papa." To which I would say, "Hi Tillie." To which she would say, "Hi Papa," and so on and so on. Best conversation I ever had.
It came time for the wedding ceremony. We all went to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which was impressive. Although I am really just a barefoot boy from Eagle Junction, I have been to some nice places in my life, but this place made me feel like I suppose I will feel when I die and go to heaven -- that is to say, feeling like some administrative error had been made by the paradise staff and at any moment an angel will come and ask me to leave.
The wedding was outside on a high cliff overlooking the ocean, with beautiful vistas as a backdrop to the beautiful bride and my nephew, who scrubbed up pretty well himself. Tillie broke free and came up once to say hi to me and Ya-Ya, but she did not disrupt the proceedings. Hi Tillie.
As to the proceedings, there was one feature I had never seen before.
In addition to the usual vows, the bride and groom were asked to make a brief statement that was part declaration of love, part promise of commitment,
Arielle went first. Her words were so heartfelt, so beautiful and moving that even the men in the crowd were no longer teary over missed fishing opportunities.
It was Michael's turn. He knew that William Shakespeare himself could not match her words. He had prepared a few remarks but realized that they covered the situation about as well as a handkerchief in a nudist colony. "That's a hard act to follow," he said before going bravely forward with the sympathy of all.
Of course, it would have been different for me. If such statements had been required back in the day, I shudder to think what my bride might have said. "Oh, he's OK, I guess. He is a cornball, but what can a girl do."
True to form, I was moved by the occasion and got to thinking that with luck Tillie will be married someday, maybe 25 years from now, when I'm 90. I plan to wave my walking stick in the air in celebration as Tillie does an Arielle.