Should I go there or not? That was what I kept asking myself as I pondered this column, especially since my last one dealt with pretty much the same topic. But this is what has been on my mind more than anything else of late, so here goes.
About a week from the time this column is published I will hopefully be in Waynesville, Ohio, watching my oldest son, Tye Jeffery Gilliland, get married to his high school sweetheart. My, how time really does fly.
I know it sounds like a cliche, but despite the warnings from many over the years, I really never thought nearly 26 years could fly by so fast. It seems like just a few months ago that I was watching Tye’s birth, then guiding him though the yard as he tried to find his balance on a bicycle, playing ball with him in the backyard or on a variety of in-the-house hoops, driving and then following him to ball games all over creation, grinning as he dragged critter after critter from the small stream behind our home up to the house, watching him graduate from high school and head to college, helping him move to Rhode Island, and then visiting him for the first time at his current home in Champaign, Illinois.
And it does not seem like a year ago that we were sitting on our back deck watching Tye propose to his girlfriend, Sabrina Theil.
Tye has always had a special way of doing things, and the evening of his proposal was no exception.
We had planned a cookout that evening at our home with Sabrina’s family, under the disguise that we were making plans for a trip to Champaign to watch an Ohio State football game. As we visited and prepared the meal, everyone knew what was really going on – except Sabrina.
Tye had already asked Sabrina’s father for her hand in marriage (I was too much of a wimp to do such a thing and eloped) and received his approval. I think Wayne Theil’s response was something like, “Well it’s about time, don’t ya’ think.”
So, as we all gathered on the deck and prepared to eat, we were anxiously waiting to see exactly how Tye was going to pull it off, and watching closely to see if Sabrina had any idea about what was going on.
Tye had been experiencing some back issues at the time and after a bit he ambled over toward where Sabrina was sitting and started rubbing his back. She had a look of concern on her face, and as he complained a little more he knelt beside her and she started rubbing his back. He let it play out about as long as he dared, then he finally went to one knee, pulled out a ring, and popped the question.
Her tears betrayed the answer, his wide grin revealed his happiness, and I will readily admit that I had to dab my eyes a time or two.
It’s hard to describe the emotions I felt in those few seconds. There was happiness beyond explanation, thoughts of similar moments with my wife, and yet a twinge of sadness at seeing my first born come of age.
I am more than certain that all those same emotions will come flooding back in about one week. But they will be amplified, not only because I will see Tye and Sabrina become man and wife, but because my youngest son, Chase, will be the best man and will no doubt, at some point, give one of those emotion-stirring speeches.
Between now and then a thousand thoughts will run through my head.
I will remember when Tye was a newborn, sleeping on my chest, and I swear our hearts started beating to the same rhythm. I will remember a massive carp literally dragging Tye up and down a creek bank and the satisfaction on his face when he finally landed it. I will remember his stunned look the day I asked him to take a ride with me, then showed him a partially smoked cigar I had found in his room. I will remember the look on his face the day he played his last high school soccer game. I will remember the pride I saw in his eyes the day he graduated from college. And I will remember the joy in his eyes the day Sabrina said yes.
I will wonder if I always did my best to guide him in the right direction, and if I was always there when needed.
Mostly though, I will be hoping that Sabrina loves him as much as I do – and more, if that’s possible – and that he has the same love for her. And you know what? I believe they do.
My sons have always me made proud in a way that only fathers know. And I’m pretty sure that when my father tells my son he can kiss his wife, it will the proudest day of my life.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.