On Saturday, July 25, 2020, my daughter Mary Rose married Tyler Smith at Saint Philomena Catholic Church. Earlier in the month, her mother, Georgette, and her sisters hosted a bridal shower for her. At the shower, Georgette gave Mary the same gift that she gave to each of our other daughters at their bridal showers: a personal letter that Mary read out loud for everyone to hear. Neither Georgette nor Mary knows that I’m doing this, but I thought that it would be worthwhile to share Georgette’s letter with the readers of my weekly Adoration Letter. Here’s what my wife wrote to our daughter:
My Beautiful Daughter, Mary Rose,
Today, women who love you and want what’s best for you have gathered together to celebrate your upcoming wedding.
You have been through so much during the past few years. You graduated from college, started your career as a Music Director and teacher, met the man of your dreams, fell in love with him, waited for him to finish college, and then got engaged and began planning for your future together.
As you were planning for your wedding, something that no one could have imagined happened. A pandemic swept through the world, and our country, as we know it, shut down. Three months before your wedding day, our government closed our schools, businesses, churches, and restaurants. We were forced to stay in our homes with limits as to where we could go, what we could do, and who we could see. Fear and the uncertainty of the future was everywhere.
But for those of us who know you, there was one bright ray of light that pierced through the darkness that had descended on our lives. That light was you. You had hope. You had faith. And you had an unstoppable love for the man you were planning on marrying.
While others wondered what to do, you kept busy with teaching your St. Philomena students and your piano students by using the tools that were available to you, which included FaceTime or Zoom.
You helped to keep music in the liturgy for all the online Masses at St. Philomena. Your beautiful voice was the one that the parishioners heard during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday and Easter Morning where there was a deep longing for people to be at church.
You sang for Divine Mercy Sunday and the funerals that were livestreamed through social media. Your sweet, angelic voice brought comfort to those who were frightened, depressed, and weary. The parishioners of St. Philomena expressed their gratitude by posting glowing online comments after each of those occasions.
Ever since you were a little girl, you have been filled with happiness and joy. You never liked conflict, so whenever there was a disagreement, you were the one who always tried your best to change the subject so everyone would be happy.
The day that you were born, Dr. Gene Couri looked at you and said, “She’s the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of babies, but this one is absolutely gorgeous.” You had big brown eyes, long dark hair, and rosebud lips. I remember holding you and praying that I would be a good mother to you, and I prayed that I would always be able to protect you from harm.
As you grew older, I watched as God blessed you with many gifts. I saw your kindness, your thoughtfulness, and your willingness to always volunteer to help others. When you performed at nursing homes and in musicals and theatrical productions, you always went the extra mile to bring happiness and joy to others.
But it wasn’t enough for you to just perform in the musicals and theatrical productions. You always volunteered to help with the building and painting of the sets. You also volunteered to help teach others their lines and their dance steps, and you were always willing to stay after the last show to help tear down the sets long after the others had left.
When you starred in Cinderella, you proved to everyone that you were made for the part. After each show, I watched as you signed programs for all the children who asked for your autograph. Out of kindness and love, you spoke to each one of them and gave them a cherished memory of meeting a real Disney princess.
You have always been respectful of your siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. And although you haven’t always agreed with what your dad and I told you, you always had enough respect for us to at least listen to what we had to say and the humility to sometimes say that we were right.
I pray that you will always continue to glorify God with your musical talents, and that your future children will bring you the same happiness and joy that you have brought to our lives.
I want to share with you what I believe are the most important secrets of a long and happy marriage:
1. Remember to always be a girlfriend your husband and to always treat him like he’s your boyfriend. Be flirty and playful and treat him the way that you did when you were dating him.
2. Cherish the love that you have for each other and treat it as though it’s the most valuable treasure on earth. A happy, loving marriage requires humility, kindness, and especially forgiveness. Those are the key virtues that you will need to practice, so you can continue to grow together during the happy times as well as during the sad times.
3. Respect your similarities and your differences. Allow one another to have the space to grow while each of you continue to enjoy your own talents, hobbies, and interests. Be patient with each other, which will help you both to grow and develop a true understanding of each other.
4. Look for the best in each other every day. Focus on what he does right rather than what he does wrong, while giving him the benefit of the doubt. Compliment, encourage and dream big dreams with him.
5. Pray out loud together every day while holding hands. Pray for each other and for the people that you love. Pray for guidance, wisdom, courage, protection, good health, and for assistance with whatever problems or challenges you are facing. You will find that this daily ritual is a beautiful way of continuing to learn what is in each other’s hearts.
You are about to begin a new chapter in your life Mary Rose. Please remember that you will always have the prayers, love, and support of your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, which will help you in your journey together as a married couple.
I love you with all my heart and I’m looking forward with great anticipation to seeing how you and Tyler will faithfully serve God, each other, and your future children and grandchildren. Keep dreaming bid dreams Mary Rose because even though our lives are not fairy tales, sometimes dreams really do come true.