best man, noun: the principal groomsman at a wedding
Webster’s dictionary is my go-to authority when it comes to thoroughly explaining the definition of words that are hard to clarify. It has been an essential resource to help me understand the likes of serendipity, cacophony, and huckster. I could go on, but you would eventually say, "plenteously asserted" (go ahead, look it up).
However, there are those rare occasions when Mr. (or Ms.) Webster simply doesn’t do the word justice.
“But everyone knows what a best man is, WG? Why the need to go to an authority on defining words to express your point?” you say.
As I ponder the impact my Best Man made on my life, today, on the anniversary of his birth, my thoughts and words differ greatly from the experts in lexicography. I admit, my experience with my Best Man was far and away on another level than the standard, run-of-the-mill relationship, and I can only hope my words on this page do the relationship justice.
My Best Man didn’t help plan the honeymoon, book a hotel for the wedding night, or set up the limousine. He didn’t pick up my tux, organize the groomsmen (I didn’t have any to organize), or take care of the officiant after the ceremony. He didn’t even plan an amazing bachelor party. By now you are saying, “WG, what did your Best Man do that made such an impact in your life?”
Well, thank you, I’m so glad you asked.
My Best Man was always by my side as I grew up from a babe to elementary school. We went swimming and threw a baseball around in the Summer and played in the snow, made snow cream, and threw a football in the Winter.
We put models together, joined the YMCA Indian Guides, and were in the Royal Ambassadors at Church. When baseball season came around, you would often find us on the field together savoring every victory and suffering through each difficult loss.
Thick or thin, he was always by my side.
We played the guitar together and even recorded a few songs in my basement. As he was more experienced than I was, he taught me many of the important lessons about driving. And he was there the day I skipped a few morning classes to get my driver’s license.
As life would have it, we were apart for a few years but reunited when I graduated from high school. We took some trips across the country, my favorite being to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. What a memorable excursion this was. We had a blast!
When I got into trouble, which seemed a lot more than it really was, he was there to stand beside me and encourage me to do better next time. When I had a bit too much to drink, he picked me up off of the front lawn and helped me into bed. After one of these occasions, he drove me down to the bar the following day to get my car. Yeah, through the best of times and the worst of times, my Best Man was next to me.
At the age of nineteen, I met a girl that I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life. He, on the other hand, did not agree with my decision and said she was not the one. He told me I was making a mistake. I was angry.
This guy was by my side my entire life, and I greatly respected him. He wasn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but then again, neither was I. However, during this part of my life, I wanted nothing to do with him. I chose another to be my best man as I made a life-long commitment to the one I loved. Or at least, I thought I loved.
After a challenging year together, I knew I had made a mistake. As we grew apart, clearly it had not been true love. Call it lust, perhaps, but love… just wasn’t there. When we called it quits, the first thing I thought of was my Best Man and his words of wisdom that were now playing loudly, over, and over in my mind.
“She’s not the one. You’re making a mistake.”
When it became obvious that he was right, he didn’t say, “I told you so.” Not once did he ever bring up this mistake I had made. He never reminded me of this poor decision that was all on me. He knew I had regrets about this chapter of my life and he quietly stood by to help me pick up the pieces and move on.
I now realized the value of the wisdom that flowed from my Best Man’s mouth. I reached out on more than one occasion for advice and vowed to never again doubt his opinion.
At the age of 26, I again felt like I had found “The One.” And he agreed.
Thirty-six years ago, when I said those magical words to the love of my life, he was beaming from ear to ear. My Best Man was sharing in this significant event in my life, right where he should be, by my side.
He’s been gone 28 years now, taken far too soon. But today, I raise a glass in his honor as I celebrate what would have been his 97th birthday.
Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you.