My older brother was running twenty feet ahead of us while my dad kept trying to convince me how much fun it was going to be. I was not convinced.
“No way! I’m not going!” I shouted, stomping my feet. “It’s too big and too scary!” I continued to carry on.
There it stood. A mountain of blue concrete cascading down the grassy hill where it dumped off into a raging pool of swirling water. My brother was beyond excited with the gigantic waterslide. I, on the other hand, not so much; I was shaking in my sandals.
My brother’s eyes danced with excitement. “Let’s go!” he yelled, tugging our dad’s hand, leading him to the bottom of the stairs, the ones that led to the top of that scary slide. Contrarily, I stood frozen, my jaws clenched with fright. I could feel my dad’s eyes upon me, pleading with me, as if they were the very thing that would convince me to go. He’d promised that he and I could ride down on the same rubber mat. Still, I would not budge as tears streamed down my face, just like the raging waters tumbling down the slide.
Convinced I’d love it, my dad wrapped his sturdy hand around my defenseless one, and led me up the steep stairs. Merely seven years old, climbing those excessive steps with my toothpick sized legs felt like I was scaling Mount Everest. With each step, my heart pounded louder and faster, and my legs began to ache. My mouth went dry while my palms prickled with sweat. My dad was still rambling on about how much it was going to be, but the ringing in my ears made it nearly impossible to hear what he was saying. Finally, on trembling legs, I reached the top. I felt so high up, I swore I could’ve seen Disney World, despite the fact we were in West Palm Beach.
So stoked to race down the slide, my brother was already in the water, sitting on his mat, hands in the air, giddy with excitement. My dad placed our mat in the wading the waters behind my brother, and plopped me on it which was no easy task, thanks to my flailing limbs. My dad settled in behind me, wrapping his strong arms around my torso, holding me tight as our journey began.
The blue cement walls towered above my tiny body as we rushed down, swishing side to side. We twisted and turned like a defenseless boat during a treacherous storm. Suddenly, my tears were replaced by drops of water splashing my face as we zoomed ahead, and my arms flailed once again, but this time with excitement, not fear. In what felt like seconds later, I could see the gentle waters rippling in the pool up ahead.
SPLASH! The ride was over.
As we exited the pool, my dad asked, “What did ya think?”
Gasping and panting, I replied, “I don’t want to go again with you, Daddy.” I watched as his brows knitted together and his lips turned downward. He opened his mouth to, I assume, convince me to give it another try, but before he could get the words out, I giggled and said, “I want to go myself!” And as my dad stood there smiling, I was off, racing back to the top.
Dad, tomorrow I will be taking another plunge––diving into marriage, and as you and Mom walk me down the aisle, you will be escorting me into another adventure, just like you did on that memorable night so many years ago. Although I do not need your eyes to convince me to go, I do need your guidance. So please, once again, take your big hand and wrap it around mine, and with each step down that aisle, I will take your love, encouragement, and confidence with me. And it with deepest gratitude that I thank you for such wonderful and priceless gifts––I will carry them with me forever.