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Mom's Little Secret
The ceremony was arranged, the rehearsal festivities had gone well, and Kate's dad was staying up late, as usual. He sat in his favorite chair on the deck, looking up toward the stars but not seeing any of them. It had been a long day, and the anticipation of Kate's wedding was playing in his mind like a film from long ago. As he was enjoying the moment, the door opened, interrupting his reverie.
It was Kate an unexpected but pleasant interruption.
"What's up, kid?" he asked.
"Can I sit here for just a bit?" she asked, ignoring his question.
"Of course," Dad responded, making room. "This reminds me of when you were a little girl and you'd come out here when you couldn't sleep. You know, everything will be different after tomorrow, and that's the way it should be. I couldn't be happier for you and David."
For a bit, they reviewed the day, laughing over the hilarious family video they'd watched at the rehearsal dinner. They also shed a tear or two as both realized this would be their last night together as "Dad and his little girl." Their relationship was about to change in some indescribable, unexperienced way.
After a period of silence, Kate asked, "Dad, what's your secret? You and Mom have always been so much in love. Please tell me."
"Kate," her Dad confessed, "it's not my secret it's your mom's. From the day we met, she has made it her life's goal to bring out the best in me."
"What do you mean?" Kate asked.
"When we began dating, she introduced me as the last of the grand gentlemen. Your mom made it easy for me to be a grand gentleman to her. I courted her as if she were a queen; all I desired was to win her heart. After we married, she bragged to her friends that I was the best listener in the world, that I really understood her. And she helped me learn to listen, to listen beyond the words, to listen for the sake of listening. It was tough for me. It took a lot of time. I wanted a shortcut, some way to solve the problems and fix whatever was broken. But she just wanted me to listen. It seemed strange, but as she gently taught me, I really learned how to listen."
"Didn't you feel like she was trying to change you all the time?" Kate quizzed. "What happened when you didn't measure up?"
He leaned up in his chair and looked deep into his daughter's eyes. "Kate, your mom loves me, regardless. That's what we promised to each other on our wedding day. She doesn't require me to be better in order to be loved; she loves me in spite of my failures, not just when I am good or because I am good."
"I'm not sure I understand," Kate declared. "Are you talking about grace or love?"
"Both," Dad answered. "They're sort of the same thing. Love makes you a dispenser of grace. Your mom doesn't love me because I love her or when I love her; she loves me because she promised to love me in spite of my failures, struggles, or stubbornness."
"You know, Dad," Kate affirmed, "you do the same thing for Mom."
"I've tried to," he answered.
Kate reached out, took her dad's hand, and slipped into his lap. She hugged him like she had when she was a child, only this time was even more special. It marked a moment of truth between father and daughter that would outlive them both.
After a bit, Dad said, "You know, all my life I've been a better person because your mother loved me, and now you have the opportunity to help David become a better man too."
"I will always love you, Dad. You and Mom have given me more than you will ever know. David doesn't realize it yet, but he's going to be the best husband ever."
Kate left her dad sitting in his chair on the deck, looking toward the stars but not seeing any of them.