Sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, just before the dreaming ends and the reality begins, I find myself dreaming about Calla Lillies. It may just be a guy thing…

They are really called Anthuriums… or The Boy Flower.

Apparently, they come in all shapes and sizes. And their parts have special names. The leaf or bracket is called a “Spathe.”

And the “Spadix” is a “fleshy club-like spike bearing minute flowers…”

And some Spadix Spikes have “tiny flowers” that grow on them that are pretty…

and some, pretty…ugly.

Some of them are just like from another planet.

Maybe the reason for my dream, was that I toured the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens yesterday and after being poked in the eyes with these well endowed plants, I must admit, I left the green house blushing a bit. I went there in the first place because of the stress I was feeling in practicing my speech. The speech I would give as “Father of the Bride” in a few days.

It seemed that every time I started to rehearse, I’d get all emotional and have to stop. I thought by immersing myself with beauty and awe, I would be distracted and could clear my head for a couple of hours.

In the silence of the stroll, I could hear the breeze blowing through the Mango Grove and the ruffle of little lizards scurrying through the brush. That’s when the first flower started talking to me. This first verbose one looked like the captain of a pirate ship. He said, “Arrrg! Stop being a cry baby. We’ve seen many weddings here at the gardens. All the fathers cry. It’s easy. We’ll teach you.”

Just then a beautiful little purple flower piped in. “Yes. It’s easy. Start out by welcoming the guests to the wedding. Tell them who you are. You are The Father of the Bride. Father of the bride’s sister. The former husband to the bride’s mother. Son to the bride’s grandparents, Brother to the bride’s Aunts and Uncles. Uncle to the bride’s cousins and in-law to the brides new family through marriage.”

Suddenly this velvety purple flower jumped out at me and continued with the lesson. “Speaking of in-laws. Did you know that Sarasota has some really weird laws?  Your guests should be aware of these,  since they have traveled so far to get here.”

As I continued my stroll, a lovely pink thing started to chime in. “If you hit a pedestrian with your car, you will be fined exactly $78! If you tie your elephant up at a parking meter, you must pay the same amount to park it, as you would a car. And be very aware that in Sarasota, it is illegal to sing in public while wearing a bathing suit.”

A few steps later, I passed these little fly trap vessel looking flowers. They spouted out, “Also, in the state of Florida, Men may not be seen publicly in any kind of strapless gown and most importantly, it’s against the law to fart in a public place after 6 p.m.”

I looked around to see if there was anyone else on the trail, anyone else that I could ask if they too are hearing the flowers talking to them. Alas, I was alone and kept walking on the trail.

I passed this beautiful purple leaf flower with these gorgeous green sprouts growing out of the center with blue and red tips.

Then I met up with a beautiful yellow flower sprouting white wings like an angel.

I approached the Koi Pond and found a bench to sit at. Obviously hallucinating from something I must have inhaled at the green house, this magnificent giant gold fish swam up to me and continued with the lesson that the garden has conspired to provide.

“A lot of the Fathers use quotes. Here’s a Chinese Proverb that you might want to use in your speech. “One joy scatters a hundred griefs.”

Then he swam away as mysteriously as he appeared.

It made me think about how all the family and friends are gathering to celebrate this joy… this joyous occasion. How today is a dream come true for all of us in a small way, as we all share in the celebration. All of us give a little piece to them and get to feel the joy of love, happiness, hope and future, simply by attending.

I looked over at the cactus and am reminded about the hundreds of prickly griefs of marriage, but decide to stay focused on the one joy that scatters them.

The Bird of Paradise turned to me and reminded me to thank all the people who are attending.

Thank the bride’s mom for making her. Thank my parents for making all the generations who are in attendance. Thank the groom’s family for making him and traveling and braving the meet of the brides family.

And to thank the Bride and Groom for having this event and inviting us to it. A lovely delicate yellow peach colored flower just smiled at me as I walked past.

I had to stop and stare at the strange gray speckled plant. It drew me in and started to speak.

“Tell them how proud you are of your daughter. Let them know how confounded you are to be gifted with two such amazing daughters. Speak for those that know the bride and those that are just meeting her and tell how when she shines her light on them, they will feel this surge of attention that is warm, full of life’s charge and unique.

And when she takes the attention away you feel it’s loss. Tell all the guests that being with your daughter, the bride, is a never-ending reminder that there is a heaven on earth.”

I was hypnotized by the speckled flower and what it was saying to me.

“Go on. Tell the guests what you taught her. How she should design herself into the person she wants to be. A person so great that she wouldn’t want to be altered in any way or be anyone but herself. Tell them how you taught her about personal integrity and how to choose productive thoughts, practice forgiveness and to constantly go forward no matter what happens in life.”

That’s when the butterfly flew past my head and landed on the other side of the garden and joined the chat.

The butterfly said, “What about what you, the father of the bride, what you have learned from your daughter the bride? Tell the guests about how she taught you how to love unconditionally and that beauty truly is born from the inside out. Tell them how she seems to radiate this tender kindness and sage-like brilliance. Tell them how you learned to not confuse kindness for weakness as she is the consummate iron fist in the proverbial velvet glove and is not one to be trifled with.”

Suddenly a swarm of dragonflies flew overhead. In harmony, they all started to buzz, “Tell the guests that if this extraordinary bride chose this man to be her husband… he must truly be a rare find indeed and someone very special as well.”

The dragonflies continued, “Tell the guests how brilliant the groom must be for recognizing the best of himself in his bride. How brave he must be to make this commitment and  how insightful he must be to choose his bride over all others. Tell them how lucky you, as the Father of the Bride are, to have a new son who wants to protect, provide and create a safe encouraging space for your daughter to grow and be all she can be.

Tell the guests how lucky you are that he is one of the great ones and how grateful you are and how liberating it is for you to not have any concerns.”

And with that, the swarm flew away as mysteriously as they appeared, leaving me staring at these dried up weird plants trying to sprout color but not seeming to be able to.

I could see the end of the path just ahead. As I walked past this strange comb looking plant I could hear harp music coming from it.

Then I passed these twisted rolled leaves that seemed to giggle as I walked by. As if they wanted to tell a joke.

I got real close to the odd twisted shape and listened. It said, “Have you ever heard of the great philosopher Henny Youngman?” To which I of course shook my head in the affirmative as the rolled twisted thread of a plant top continued. “According to Henny, do you want to know the secret of a happy marriage?” To which I nodded again.

Then the twisted head said, “The secret of a happy marriage, remains a secret.” And I could have sworn I heard a drum roll then a cymbal crash…

As I felt the sting of a bad one-liner, I passed these strange spiked DNA looking dudes. They reminded me to say something about the beautiful children that the bride and groom will produce.

I could feel myself coming out of the park of talking plants. I shook my head to clear it,  like in a cartoon. “yaddity yaddity yaddity….”

I walked past this hairy bohemian tree and thought about what individuals give up to become a couple. It’s like they choose to surrender the loose outgrowth of their spontaneous impulse in exchange for orderly direction, responsibility and the catering to the happiness of another.

I wondered how much was actually lost in that transaction and how much actually gets gained. I guess each couple is different and it depends on the unique course their life takes.

I was just about to exit the park, when the most beautiful and exotic who knows what shouted out to me. “Don’t forget the toast dummy! You should use a Thoreau Quote and say it like this… Please stand and raise your glasses. Go Confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. To the bride and groom, Mr. and Mrs…”

I wiped my eyes a bit because I was still crying a little. But looked back on the garden and thanked them all for their advice. They surely have seen a lot of weddings come through there and heard a lot of speeches.

I’d better get busy and write mine before I start to not believe the magic I was just a part of.

22 thoughts on “AN IMAGINED LIFE

  1. omg the journey, lovely! congrats on your daughter’s upcoming marriage…you’ll do a wonderful job with the toast, you’ve already composed the best speech, won’t be a dry eye in the house (or garden) 😉

  2. Love it all — what a gift this blog is for the bride and groom! I pray your day is just perfect! Calla Lillies are my favorite BTW — how funny. I didn’t think many people liked them…

  3. Barry, you are such a great dad, worried about every little detail. Relax & enjoy the moment. Thank God at least you get to see such a remarkable event. Some parents never did…some children were never able to…& some were able to but sadly it all ended. Just make sure the bride it’s not nervous. Tell her: “Everything is gonna be all right & I love you ” (the golden words) & smile. Life is beautiful & there is still so much to see, to tell, to dream with, to write about…A wedding is but one day but love is for a lifetime

    • Thanks Amanda. It was a funny post how it all came together. I really did go there to clear my head and not hallucinate that the flowers were talking. Glad you liked it though. And I am the lucky father for sure.

G'head. Say it.

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