Wedding bells in the secret garden make a good combination

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

Not so long ago, it seems, tiny daughter and I were watching “The Secret Garden” movie. When it was over, she said: “Daddy, when I grow up, I want to get married in a garden just like that.”

I don’t know about one just like that, I was thinking, but we’ll try to find something similar. But the movie and the book are not about the physical garden, I remember explaining. They’re about us, about people, and how we handle what life throws at us and how we let that shape our lives.

Jumping ahead 19 years, the rain had stopped, and sunshine covered the garden. It is actually a park in which the venue stands, but that’s as close as I could get. After a week of on-and-off rain, it was time for the wedding.

The backup was to hold the wedding indoors in air conditioning, but daughter wanted an outdoor ceremony in her “garden.” Because the secret garden is magical.

The rain held off. It poured the day before and rained the day after, but not on that special day. The clouds even moved in over us to make it a little cooler. It was going to be a perfect ceremony.

Daughter was nervous in the vintage Rolls Royce limousine on the ride from the hotel to the park. We were headed toward her secret garden. In the movie, the garden was off-limits and complex, full of symbolism. Her garden was open to friends and family, and much simpler, although also symbolic.

The limo was in traffic. Frank Sinatra was singing “I love Paris.” I know most of the words and started singing along to break up the nervousness.

“You know Frank Sinatra songs?” she asked.

“I know this one,” I replied, and continued singing. “Why, oh why, do I love Paris? Because my love is here.”

The song is part of my childhood. Of the thousands of songs I have heard, I remember the words to this one for some reason.

I started to read the card she gave me earlier. “You have always encouraged me to follow my dreams,” she wrote in part. “You set a great example for me.”

My own secret garden just grew greener.

We turned the corner and pulled into the “garden.” She is beautiful, smart, thoughtful, sweet and successful. She already has all the keys she needs, except for one. That one was about to be passed on.

Memories of her childhood raced through my mind – birth, kindergarten, first day of school, softball, vacations, making breakfast tacos for her, comforting her when she needed it, and being there for advice and help when she sought it out.

The memories were continuing to flood in as I looked at her, all made up – with her natural beauty still showing – but nervous and jittery. The little girl who was scared of the dark and noises in the middle of the night, and who was glued to the movie 19 years earlier, has grown up.

She has already built her own secret garden without even realizing it. This was just an addition.

Everybody has a secret garden. It’s there to be used when needed.

The garden rejuvenates, gives hope. The garden is magical realism. It is positive thinking; it is healing. It frees self-imposed limitations and gives confidence. It overcomes obstacles.

This beautiful young woman then got out of the limo, and we started walking down the aisle of grass, trees, flowers and people, toward a young man whom she already loves and trusts.

And then the time came to let go of her hand and place it in the hand of the man with whom she will share her life.

As I did, I also handed her the last key – the key to my own secret garden for the last 34 years. It will be there for her if needed.