"Congratulations! I can't believe after all these years you're both finally going to be parents! I'm so super excited for you both."
Mum was clapping her hands like a cymbal- banging monkey and uncoordinatedly jumping up and down- until she suddenly stopped dead in her tracks.
"I just peed a little!” And with that - she ran out the room laughing.
Half the family gathered around the lounge room hung their heads and shook them at their chests. The other half were slapping thighs and rocking back in laughter - I was one of the ones rocking back and forth.
• • •
“I stand here on this most precious of moments and share with you the story of our eternal love and gratefulness of our family. We welcome Henry, dear Henry…”
The entire room of gathered friends and family yelled in unison “DEAR HENRY, DEAR HENRY!” Cheers roared out, tables were banged, and glasses clinked.
As the ruckus dimmed, the father of the bride continued.
“You all know me, and you all know I hate this standing round talking, so I think this is the perfect time to hand over to the real spokesperson of the family. Darling…would you like to continue?”
She sat for a minute, tears spilling over her lids and composed herself as she moved her napkin from her lap to the table.
“It was my dad, the best pop in the world, that came to us the day you were born, carrying a red pine seedling with your name and date of birth embroidered in the pink ribbon wrapped around it. We weren't sure what we were to do with the gift. I knew they grew into the most beautiful giants of trees.”
"It's for her future. It's the tree that will keep on giving."
His voice had been soft and sincere, and his eyes had been full of love.
"I'll plant it for her and nurture it, as you shall nurture her. You'll see. They will both be wondrous and beautiful as they grow and reach for the stars.” He had told me.
I asked him about the seedling, and he said he had gone to the nursery on the day we told him we would soon be calling him pop. He browsed the trees for hours until he picked the right one, the perfect one to put your name to.
As you grew, so did the tree. As you learnt to walk, your tree learned to sway with the wind, and true to his word you both grew and reached for the stars.
Nan made picnics for you to have under the evergreen growing branches of your tree. and when you were 6 and your tree was good and sturdy, pop hung a swing to push you in for hours.
And when Nan bought you a leather-bound journal at 13 years old, you would go and sit under that tree and write your hopes and dreams in the shade of its branches.
Sometimes we would see you just sitting under the tree at 16, just being there.
And as you grew further and met the man you would marry, he knew the importance of that tree and proposed with moonlight shining through the leaves.
“It’s been a while since you have visited your tree and although the memories will always remain, pop had one thing in mind when he bought that tree the day he found out you would be coming into this world, and that was to give you a wedding gift.
You will cry tears of sadness and tears of happiness, dad would you like to do the honours?”
The sturdy old man stood tall. Feet planted shoulder width apart as if he himself were a giant of the forest. The smile he shared with his daughter as she kissed him on the cheek melted every heart in the room.
“I love you dad.” She whispered into his ear.
He turned to the bride
"My darling granddaughter, behind you, you see the all the pictures on the screen of you and your tree and all the joy and happiness you brought to not only your Mum and Dad, but to Nan and I, always. Your tree was no longer able to protect you from the bright sun or give you cover from wind and rain in the form it had grown. Your tree is your ever evolving and everlasting gift from us to you."
He handed her a set of keys.
"It almost shattered my heart to say goodbye to your beautiful protector, but soon you will have your own precious child and that child deserves his or her own tree. Turn to the screen our darling granddaughter, and mind not to ruin your makeup.” His eyes glistened and he lowered his head.
She turned to the screen and saw a beautiful timber house. She looked at the keys and then at the house.
"A house? We can't accept a house!"
"Look at the background." She looked at the background on the oversized screen. The house was exactly where her tree had stood.
"Grandpa! Is that my tree! You turned my tree into a house!"
Tears streamed down her face.
“And in the backyard, I shall plant another for your child to be, and it shall be nurtured as your tree was. It shall bring endless fond memories for all the family, and you shall be forever protected in your tree house."
The old man raised a glass.
"A toast to the bride and groom. May they always feel safe and secure and grow stronger together each day.”
“To the bride and groom!”
Glasses clinked and cheers roared out while tears were dried on napkins and sleeves and the bride and groom hugged her grandparents tightly.
Nan was clapping like a cymbal-banging monkey and jumping up and down uncoordinatedly…until she stopped dead in her tracks.
"Oh shoot!" Nan said to the bride.
"You darn went and squeezed me too tight! I just peed a little!
Faces fell to hands and people leaned back in laughter as nan went tottling off to the loo.