(Originally posted on Saturday, September 17, 2005)

The setting was elegant… A twelfth century church was nestled into a rolling countryside in a little, quaint town that could have come from any picture book of the German countryside. It was an artist’s epiphany. It was a place to remember, and look back upon for a lifetime. Tasha made an excellent choice…

The church had functioned as a hospital for the area for year, if not centuries. It was the final resting place for the members of the local aristocracy for that same period of time. The graveyard was a historical archive of this northern Hessian land. What tales it might have told. What intrigues it might have experienced. Then there was the pride the locals held for the ONE gypsy grave that was inside the graveyard, not in a separate plot in a nearby field; that gypsy must have been given the grace of the local pastor for some deed rendered to the town. Who knows?

But now it was to be the location where my eldest daughter, that apple of my eye, would be given to Istvan in marriage.

She made a wonderful choice. Not that it was her first choice. Initially, she had selected, possibly in deference to Isti’s family, to be married in Maria’s local church. But as previously said, the Saturday afternoon ceremony would conflict with the weekly celebration of mass; this was not revealed to her until about two months ago! She then started to search for an alternative church, one with more character. This she found in another village, but Maria objected to that location because it was in a protestant center, not a catholic village. (I would have thought the battle over the reformation would have been over a long time ago, in the distant past, if you will!) So the search went on. Finally, she located this little village of Naumburg and this church. It was magnificent. It was acceptable to Maria. It was available!

Tasha has always idealized how things should be and getting married in a church with ‘character’ and charm were important to her. When she found out that her plans were not going to happen as she anticipated, she nearly panicked! But things worked out.

Tasha put an incredible effort into the ceremony. While the ceremony, per se, was to be in German, many parts included summaries in both English and Hungarian (Magyar). In addition, the primary ministers, a husband and wife team of protestant clergy, would be the principle clerics officiating over the service, a Catholic priest was also involved (to satisfy Isti and Maria). While this had all the potential of being a very disjointed ceremony, with all the switching back and forth, it ended up being brilliantly orchestrated by Tasha. (Similar precision as that involved in the planning of the gold heist in the movie, ‘The Italian Job’.)

Tasha was an incredibly beautiful bride. I remember so well how beautiful her mother, Grace, was when she walked down the aisle at our wedding, escorted by her father. This was to be my time to do the same. I treasured this moment and decided that I would forego the cane or the walker and escort this beautiful young lady down the aisle unassisted. I waited outside the church for her to appear. The church bells had been ringing to signal the time for the ceremony was now… But Tasha didn’t appear.

Apparently, there was some problem with too many buttons for the number of button holes on her little jacket. This was soon solved and the bride appeared, delivered to the church in AnaMarie’s little Mini Cooper. I swelled with pride and humility at this moment. We proceeded to enter the church, with her arm in mine, her beaming smile showing through her bridal veil, and started down the central aisle of this classic church. Step by step, we approached the altar and her husband (remember, they were already legally married!). When we arrived at the front, I lifted her veil and gave her a kiss on the cheek. I handed her hand to Isti and took my seat be Grace; this was the official point at which I had changed from being the male figure in her life to a supporter of her new life with her husband. It was all I could do not to cry on the spot. As I sat, I worked hard to hold back the tears of joy arising from my deepest soul.

[I remember just sixteen months ago, I lay in my hospital bed in the Coronary Care Unit of the Kaiser Hospital in Riverside, near death. The previous Christmas Tasha and Isti had come to California for the holidays. At that time, Isti formally asked for Tasha’s hand in marriage, to which I was proud to give. From my deathbed, I vowed that I would fight on so that I would be able to walk this precious daughter of mine down the aisle at her wedding. It took long months of hard work and therapy to bring me back to where I could be standing in the position that I now was in: giving my daughter in marriage. I thank the Lord for His help in restoring my health. I especially thank Grace for her endless hours of support as well. I received excellent care and support from Kaiser, Dr. Lim, and the others. For this I will be eternally grateful.]

I must say that one of the highlights was the sermon delivered by the husband and wife team of ministers… They did an outstanding job and made what might have been a low point of the ceremony into a high point. They alternated in their speaking, taking on, more or less, the role of the husband or wife. Even though the sermon was in German, the pace and presentation was incredibly well done. Grace and Maria were responsible for reading English and Hungarian (Magyar) summaries, respectively. Grace, despite all of her apprehension over the process, delivered such a heart-felt reading that reflected all of her emotion at the moment and could have been a mother talking to her daughter in private. It was incredibly moving. I only wish that I had brought my little digital voice recorder to capture that reading!

Heather and Judith (Isti’s younger sister) did the scripture readings in English and Hungarian; little Maria was to have done the Hungarian, but she had not been able to get back to Germany from Spain.

Next time we will look at the Reception that was held at a ‘Sommerhalle’…

Jerry