Make time to celebrate life’s special moments

Jun. 5—It’s the time of year to celebrate. Despite what the thermometer tells us, we still have a couple more weeks of spring left before summer officially begins.

Weddings and graduations are what we are celebrating. If you’re like me, I bet your social media feeds are filled with happy pictures of recent graduates and married couples.

My wife and I hopped in the car Memorial Day weekend and headed to Tennessee for a very special wedding. Kaitlyn, the younger sister of two special ladies in our lives, was getting married to Bradley in the mountains near Sevierville and Pigeon Forge.

I’ve missed my share of weddings through the years — work got in the way or by my own choice — but I wasn’t going to miss this one. Kaitlyn has been an important part of our lives for 28 years and three days; she recently celebrated a birthday June 2.

As my wife Kathy tells it, Kaitlyn and I bonded at a birthday party for her older sister Blaire. No one was playing with her, so she asked if I would play. Of course I said yes, and the rest is history.

Before long, Kaitlyn took up golf. I helped get her some equipment, and we enrolled her in a summer camp at Palmetto. One day I got a call from the golf course asking if Kaitlyn could charge snacks to my account; the other kids who were junior members were doing it. Of course, I said yes.

One of my favorite photos that I keep on my desk is a picture of Kaitlyn decked out in her golf gear. I’m in the background, lugging her clubs and her drink. It pretty much summed up our relationship; I would do anything for her.

At the Masters, she once got pulled inside the ropes by the practice putting green and got an up-close view of Tiger Woods. At the Par 3 Contest, Ben Crenshaw invited her onto the green and had her hit a putt for him. I wish I could have been there for that, but I did help get Ben’s autograph on the pictures for her.

Not everything was fun and games. Once, Kaitlyn was playing a video game in my office and uttered a mild “bad” word. I let it go, but my wife in the other room didn’t. Kaitlyn and I both got in trouble.

Through the years we celebrated Kaitlyn’s life moments: confirmation, school graduations and many birthdays and holidays. She was living in Charleston after college when she met Brad. We didn’t know much about him, other than he was in the Navy, but we could tell the relationship was getting serious.

Last September, while we were on vacation with my family, my wife saw that she had missed a couple of calls from Kaitlyn. That was odd because they usually text, and my wife thought something might be up.

She was correct, and we were thrilled to learn of her engagement. When she announced the date, we marked it in our calendars.

Finally, the big day arrived. The mountain setting was gorgeous. The bride was beautiful, and the groom handsome in his Navy whites.

I’ll admit I started to get a little emotional when Kaitlyn made her way down the aisle. Thank goodness we were outdoors and I was wearing sunglasses. I wasn’t the only one; the bride and groom dabbed tears from each other’s cheeks as they exchanged vows.

The ceremony was over in a flash, and then the wedding party took pictures. Before long we were in the reception hall and enjoying good food and drinks. After some of the traditional dances and toasts, the sun started to go down. That’s when the music cranked up and the dance floor filled up.

Kaitlyn and Brad didn’t do everything by the “traditional” book, and that was perfectly fine. At the end of the evening, the guests formed a corridor and Kaitlyn and Brad took off underneath a canopy of confetti. It looked like snow, and it was beautiful.

Just like Kaitlyn.

Thanks for reading.

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