A bride is upset when a dirty-looking unshaven man walks in in the middle of her dream wedding, then she finds out who he is.
This was supposed to be Debbie Jarrold’s dream wedding, but already everything was going wrong. The florist had delivered the wrong bouquet and it didn’t go with the delicate coronet of flowers she was wearing, her bridesmaids were hungover, and her shoes were suddenly two sizes too small.
Debbie let herself drop onto the sofa in her bridal suite and felt tears fill her eyes. “Oh grandma, I wish you were here! You always knew what to do and how to make me feel better!” But Debbie’s grandmother was gone these past two years, her father was gone, M.I.A., and her mother died when she was born. She was truly alone in the world.
Just then, Rachel, Debbie’s friend came in. “Oh Debbie, honey, I’m sorry we’re late,” she said. “But we’re here now!” and she threw her arms around Debbie and gave her a big hug.
Debbie’s grandmother had hugged her like that the day the two men in uniform had come to their door. Debbie had thought it was daddy coming home, but it was two strange men and they talked to gran for a long time.
Gran staggered when she got up to show them out, and when they were gone she knelt down and put her arms around Debbie and cried. “I’m sorry my love, but Daddy’s not coming home just yet…”
Never give up hope, because miracles do happen.
The worse of it all was that Captain James Jarrold wasn’t declared dead, he was declared Missing In Action, so there was no body to bury. Debbie and gran couldn’t say their goodbyes, they simply waited for news, month after month.
They never stopped waiting, not really, and even on her deathbed, gran had held on to Debbie’s hand tight and whispered, “I don’t think your daddy’s dead, I feel it in my heart. My James is coming home…”
And of course, Debbie whispered back that she knew he’d come home, kissed her gran, and let her carry that one last illusion with her into the dark. The truth was that once gran was gone, Debbie was the loneliest girl in the world.
It was during one of the darkest periods of her life, while she was mourning gran’s recent death that she met David. He’d shown himself to be everything she’d always hoped for in a man: honorable, kind, loving.
David had become her family, and she’d given him her heart, so when he proposed, she accepted joyfully. But now that her wedding day had finally arrived, she felt lonelier than ever.
At the rehearsal dinner, she’d looked around at the faces of David’s six brothers and sisters, his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and realized how utterly alone she was.
Of course, Ruth was there, and her old friends from high school and college, but no family. Debbie sighed. She stood up and let Ruth and the two other bridesmaids, Sandy and Constance, help her into her dress.
Sandy carefully settled the coronet and the veil onto Debbie’s head and stood back, with tears in her eyes. “You look perfect!” she cried. Constance brought Debbie her bouquet — the right one this time.
Debbie looked at herself in the mirror. She looked like the wedding pictures she’d seen of her mom! “Daddy,” she whispered, “I wish you and mom and gran could see me now!”
Because she didn’t have a father and didn’t feel that anyone could replace him, Debbie was going to walk down the aisle alone, with Ruth, Sandy, and Constance behind her.
The wedding planner led her to the garden where the guests were already waiting. The priest, David, and his best man stood under an arch of flowers. The violins played the first strains of the Wedding March and Debbie took a deep breath. This was it!
She was about to take her first step when a man suddenly appeared in front of her. “Debbie!” he cried. Debbie stared at him in consternation. He was thin to the point of emaciation, with a rough beard shading his face and a ragged military jacket.
“Debbie,” he said again. “It’s me…”
Debbie turned to the wedding planner. “What’s happening here? Do you let in vagrants?” The wedding planner looked confused and started calling the security on her cell phone. David saw that something was going on and he ran down the aisle towards Debbie.
“Babe,” he gasped. “What’s happening?”
Debbie gestured at the dirty man who was staring at her, tears running down his face. “They let in this man, some vagrant!” she said. “Please David, he’s spoiling our wedding!”
David stepped forward and took the man by the arm. “Sir, please, I think you should leave!” he said.
But the man wouldn’t move, he just stared at Debbie. “Tink!” he cried, “Tink, don’t you remember me?”
Debbie felt the blood drain from her face and her heart turn over. “Tink? The only person who called me Tink was my father…” Just then two burly men in black suits from security showed up, and behind them came a tall man in a military uniform with lots of stripes on his shoulder.
The thin dirty man whispered again, “Tink, daddy’s been thinking about you dreaming I’d come home…”
“Daddy,” Debbie cried, and suddenly under the lines of pain, suffering, and hunger, she saw her father. “It’s you, it’s really you!” She didn’t care about anything except holding him in her arms.
“Gran knew,” she whispered to him. “Gran knew you’d come home!”
The man in military uniform said, “I’m sorry Miss Jarrold, but Captain Jarrold was so eager not to miss your wedding, he wouldn’t even go home to change. You see, we liberated him two days ago from a prison in the Zagros mountains…”
But Debbie wasn’t listening. She was crying and laughing at the same time. “David,” she said, “this is my daddy! He’s come home!” Then she turned to her father. “Daddy would you walk me down the aisle?”
So with her hand on her father’s trembling arm, and slow but sure steps, Debbie walked down that rose-strewn aisle towards David, knowing that she wasn’t alone in the world, and never would be again.
What can we learn from this story?
- Never give up hope, because miracles do happen. Debbie’s grandmother still believed her son was alive and she was right.
- Don’t judge people by their appearance because you don’t know what they have been through. Debbie’s father looked like a vagrant because he had just been liberated from a prison camp. Her dad was a special ops operative and he was held in a secret prison in the Middle East.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a man who complains about a homeless vagrant, until he realizes who he is.
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