With a whoop and a holler and loud huzzas everyone made their way to the reception area in the Synagogue. (Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the mood was in that vein).2831692504_1d5945cbbf_o The large room was filled with tables, people and a long line of great food stretching down one side.2831683034_f820ee9e7c_o With much laughter, and many congratulations, 2830849023_684feedf20_oCatherine and Martin, were mobbed by friends and family;2831679778_bb802c4f6e_o pulled hither and yon by their eager well-wishers.2830849181_ee45fa244b_o When the jubilant atmosphere relaxed a bit the delicious viands were sampled; and soon consumed. 2830845741_ee5914572e_o Satiated, the revelers, their glasses filled in preparation quieted; the time for speeches had arrived.2830852261_e6f516202e_o The best man, Chris Cowley,2831687118_458809c751_o, welcomed everyone: congratulated the radiant couple; remarked on their long  friendship; commented on the gathering; thanked the many who had worked so hard to make the day so memorable; and then introduced the “Speech Makers”. Bill Chochinov, Catherine’s father and now Martin’s father-in-law,2830852813_527caa9dc1_o dug into his trouser and jacket pockets and began a valiant search for the notes he had anticipated using for his remarks. Unfortunately, they kept eluding him, and when they did come forth–appeared to be in the wrong order. His banter, as he ad libbed an off-the-cuff impromptu speech, was both touching and amusing. He did a great job, receiving a loud burst of applause at its finish. It was now my turn, and I would like you all to know that when Martin phoned from Winnipeg to tell me that I, as Father of the Groom, was expected to make speech after the ceremony, I was both stunned, and shocked. “No way.” I informed my boy. “Oh, yes way.” he shot back. “Oh, no!” I say.”The groom’s father does not make a speech.The Best Man, makes a speech, the Groom, makes a speech, the Bride’s father, makes a speech, and. . . and. . . maybe some other person makes a speech, but the Groom’s father does not make a speech!” “Please,Dad,” He pleads as though he were on his knees. (He probably was!)  I listen, I love him, I’m nervous. I have a fear of making speeches, I always have. But, alas, I am defeated. After searching the web, I discover, much to my chagrin, that it is becoming quite common for the father of the groom to make a speech. Oi! Sooo, I phone Martin, and, quacking, tell him I’ll do it. Of course I’m hoping he’ll say, “No, it’s okay Dad, no problem, you don’t have to, honest.” He says instead, “Thanks a million Dad, love ya!” I know he loves me, but heck! From that moment  all I could concentrate on was “The Speech”. I wrote it, then re-wrote, and re-wrote it, and re-wrote it, and again. . .and again. . . and again. . . right up until the day of the wedding! No, no, until the moment of the wedding! No, that ‘s not right either, I re-wrote it right until the moment I stood up to give i!! What? Me nervous?!?! Thank God for my theater years. I got through it! Shaking inside, my heart racing around inside my chest as though it were trying to escape, I got through it! So, if you’ll forgive the indulgence, I’ve included it here for those who might like to read it, because God also knows–I’m not going to read it to you!2831687712_25f6d7d944_o

“It is written: when children find true love, parents find true joy.”

Hi – I’m Gordon Wales, Martin’s Dad and the extremely fortunate father-in-law of Catherine, his glowing bride. My wife Janet, Martin’s proud and beaming mother and I are still in the process of getting to know Catherine’s numerous membered family, and what a pleasure that is. I’m terrible with names, so forgive me if I don’t remember everyone’s, after all, I forgot my wife’s name when I was making a very nervous toast at our own wedding. First allow me to comment on the wonderful co-ordination of those responsible for making this such a successful, happy and memorable occasion. Congratulations Catherine and Martin and everyone who worked so hard to make it a truly great event.

I would like to take a moment to introduce those members of Martin’s family who were able to be here today: His brothers, three of the pole holders -Dominic Wales and his beautiful wife, Brie, from Comox on Vancouver Island, Simon Katz from the minuscule town of Youbou on Vancouver Island, and Jonathon Katz, who along with his beautiful wife Martha, journeyed up from Baltimore in Maryland. From Los Angeles, California, Janet’s cousin, Luke Friedman, and a special guest, the survivor of a 20 hour journey from Johannesburg, South Africa, Marty’s uncle David Emanuel, Janet’s brother.

When I look over at Martin and see that handsome bright eyed guy, so full of love for his Catherine and joy for this wonderful day, it is hard to imagine that he almost didn’t make it past his birth, 37 years ago in South Africa: But with his inborn determination he sure did, enriching our lives and the lives of so many others with his always ready smile and easy laughter.

As many of you probably know Marty is huggy kind of guy, I guess you’d say we’re a huggy kind of family. As a young boy, when he arrived home from school, or music practice (he plays a mean clarinet – or did?), or after a base ball game or running around with his friends, the first thing he’d do was dash into the house, give his Mom and me a big hug and then, more than likely, disappear into his room to get at his drawings or paintings or the comic book series he created and which has occupied him for most of his years. He showed his talent for drawing and colour as a very small child, and was fortunate that his teachers from kindergarten to high school recognized his talent and encouraged it, as did his family. I have in a closet at home a portfolio of his kindergarten art! I’m saving it for posterity! Now, is that a proud father or is it?

Martin, there are so many wonderful stories of your childhood that I would love to recount at this time, but I’ll let a couple do. The paper route you struggled with each afternoon at the age of 10, and the snow storm that struck one day, shortly after you set out to deliver your heavy load. Eight year old Dominic had gone with you to help his big brother. The storm worsened and you failed to return at your usual time. We became very worried and I went out to look for you, and found the two of you almost completely buried by the snow, but every paper had been delivered. We were so impressed when you decided to use the money saved from your route to fly, by yourself, to New York to spend a week with your Godfather. And the time you and your friends were rudely awakened in the middle of the night to find yourselves being washed out to sea cause you’d placed your tents too close to the ocean at a camp out! I could cover pages with your life and your crazy adventures, but the one thing that would fill each and every page is your love of art and music. Mom and I are so proud of you, son!

When I left Winnipeg half a century ago, after working here for 3 years, I never dreamed that a son of mine would one day not only be living in this city, but would find the love of his life here! Or that I would be returning, along with his mother and brothers to celebrate this momentous event.

A short while after Marty moved to Winnipeg we began to hear bits and pieces about a girl named Catherine. Soon those bits and pieces became infused with something else, and Janet and I began to wonder if there was something more about this special girl who loved the same things he did, was exciting, intelligent, and wonderful to be around. His telephone calls became more and more filled with Catherine this and Catherine that, then Catherine and I and then the big WE! After that there was no more wondering, and soon the news we’d been expecting came: “Mom…Dad”, came the voice through the phone, “Are you guys sitting down?” “Yes?” “Well….I’ve asked Catherine to marry me!”

Though we had never met her we certainly knew a lot about this very special girl in his life. When finally Catherine came to visit us out on the West Coast, we knew that Martin had truly found the girl of his dreams.

Martin and Catherine, we may never know what the future holds. The road ahead may twist and turn, be strewn with rocks and grueling hills or straight as an arrow – unlikely, but lovely if it did – yet the one constant that can be relied on is the love between a man and a woman, who hold dearest the knowledge that though they are two they are also one. I would like to say to the both of you cherished children (you always will be children to your parents) may the hand of your loved one, the hand placed in yours this happy day, be the hand you hold to the end of your days. Remember dearest Martin and Catherine, being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

How lucky that you two should meet

To make each others lives complete!

Congratulations and best wishes!2830853421_3a51f72ddd_o2830854221_8d79614fa0_o

A  tear from Janet, and from Catherine laughter, at one of the references to Martin’s past. Martin’s surprised look at a remark I made about a remembered moment from his earlier youth. Then it was their turn and they did a marvelous job of thanking everyone in their tribute to the joy that was heaped on them that day. 2830854695_8ac33f4065_oThey handled themselves with such aplomb and charm, everyone was enchanted. A wonderful couple! May joy and love precede them always.2830854877_62aa5bddfb_o Then came the final symbolic act in the pageant of this day. Martin’s brother Jonathan was given the honor of’ ‘Blessing and Breaking the Bread’. This a moment when thanks is given to God for the gift of  food and wine, and that the couple who’s marriage is being celebrated may always have a laden table.After the blessing he broke a piece for himself, then the loaf was passed around the room, each person breaking from it a small piece to eat, in tribute to the happy newlyweds. When all was done the new Mr. and Mrs. Emanuel headed off to rest and refresh before the final party–the last of the five days of festivities. Everyone who would be attending the grand finale party at the hotel that evening made their way home, or elsewhere, to relax and prepare themselves for the next and final event.

Published in: on March 20, 2009 at 8:45  Leave a Comment  

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