Saturday evening you and I will be all spruced up in our gray tuxedos, standing at the altar in the UGA chapel, and the minister will ask a question that will go something like, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”
I hope you will be listening closely to those words and think seriously about all they imply, because I certainly have — for a long time. I suppose I have been thinking about them since Oct. 3, 1985, when Jamie Leigh first came into our lives. I suppose it is no coincidence that she came right in the middle of football season. When I answer, “Her mother and I,” I won’t be merely following the script. I will be bestowing upon you the care of one of the most precious possessions in my life.
For almost 28 years now I have prayed that Jamie Leigh Huckaby would grow up to be intelligent, well-rounded and happy. Those prayers have been answered many times over. I have also prayed that she would find the one person whom God had chosen for her from the beginning of time with whom to share her life. I trust that in you she has, and we welcome you into our family.
There are a few things I want to say to you as we prepare for what will be one of the most important days of your life — more important than passing the bar exam, more important than beating Clemson, more important than anything you have ever done or will ever do, other than accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.
Jamie Leigh, as you have probably surmised, is a little bit spoiled. Her siblings, Jackson and Jenna, don’t call her “The Princess” for nothing. She is used to having her own way most of the time. Now I am not suggesting that you continue the practice that her mother and I began 28 years ago. In fact, it might be better for everyone if you didn’t, at least not to the extent that we have. But I do hope that from time to time you will treat her like a princess who has found her one true prince.
Also, she cries easily. It will be OK. Just, please don’t give her a reason to cry over you. I guess she is sort of like a combination of Cinderella and Scarlett O-Hara. If you’ll remember that you should be fine. You don’t have to be a combination of Prince Charming and Rhett Butler, but it wouldn’t hurt, either.
Jamie bleeds red and black and I am so glad she found a mate who is almost as big a fan of all things UGA as she is. She also likes country music, Coca-Cola products, all things Disney and her daddy’s barbecued chicken. I’ll teach you how to make the chicken for after I’m gone. She also likes “Gone With the Wind,” everything Pat Conroy ever wrote, cheap wine and very expensive Bourbon. Her grandmother is wishing I hadn’t mentioned that, but it is so.
But, of course, you already knew all of that or we wouldn’t be this close to that monumental moment at the altar that is fast-approaching, would we?
I have a couple of other things to address, and these are the most important of them all. First off, please don’t go into this marriage thinking that marriage is a 50-50 proposition. It is not. If you try to make it 50-50 then somebody is going to come up short and that will cause resentment, which will lead to problems. Marriage is a 100-100 proposition. Each of you must be 100 percent devoted to one another. You must give all of yourself to one another without expecting anything at all in return. The Bible tells us that men should love their wives as Christ loved the church — and Christ gave his very life for the church.
Which brings me to my final point, and then I will leave you alone. One plus one, in a marriage, should not add up to two. If it does that marriage will not work. When you and Jamie Leigh walk up the aisle Saturday night, after the preacher has pronounced you husband and wife, you need to be a threesome, not a couple.
You must keep Jesus at the center of your marriage. I know you have been through many counseling sessions in preparation for this day and I know you have given lip service to the fact that yours will be a Christian union, but it really, really does need to be a Christian union. It needs to be forever. It doesn’t need to be for “as long as love shall last,” or any of those other new age ideals. It needs to be “for as long as you both shall live.”
I love Jamie Leigh Huckaby as I love life itself — and I love you. And when I give her away Saturday evening, no matter what happens, you can’t bring her back.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.