As well as being the MC for the evening I’m also expected to make a “father of the groom” speech. I’ve never made one of those before – Ben is my only son and I don’t have a daughter, so this is it. It’s my only chance so I’d better get it right. Since I have no idea how to get it right so, I’m just going to get on with it.
I’m only one of Ben’s parents, so this afternoon I’m representing his mother Mandy, his stepmother Eve and his stepfather Richard.
So, on behalf of us all, thank you for being here to help celebrate Ben and Jade’s wedding and make it such a special, even magnificent, event.
I thought I’d use this opportunity to talk a bit about pride. You know, about how proud we all are of Ben and how proud this wonderful day makes us feel and yada yada yada.
But I looked up pride in the dictionary and this is what it said:
Pride is “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements”.
So if I’m going to stand up here and tell you how proud I am, I thought I’d better check out Ben’s history to see what I can legitimately take credit for.
I’ll start at the beginning.
Ben was born in 1983. He did a great job of that, but I was just standing there holding Mandy’s hand. They did all the work. It was clearly an achievement of some kind, but it didn’t have much to do with me.
Age of 4, Ben became an architect. Engineer. A Builder. A master of cardboard. I remember him building an elaborate meter tall grandfather clock with pieces that moved. It wouldn’t have surprised me if it kept good time. It was very impressive but I have no idea where that interest or ability came from.
Age of 5 he was a photographer. His family in California will never let him forget the cute 5 year old with the Australian accented wandering around events asking, “Can I take your photo?” I don’t know if he was really into creating images. It was more like he was starting to develop his ability to network. He was, after all, a child of the ’80s.
By 8 he became a solicitor. Quite a number of adults knew him by that title. He could argue any case and he’d usually win. Obviously, nothing has really changed.
At around the same time he also became an impresario. Whenever his friends wanted to put on a show, it was always Ben who did the introductions. He spuiked the show, got the audience involved and made it memorable.
At 9 he became a commercial artist. He’d go to executive meetings with Mandy at 2DAY FM and sell his own work for money to all the radio heavies. It was mostly colouring-in, but it was profitable. And that lead to…
Starting his own business with his own business card at 10. The name of his business was M.F.M., which stood for Massaging for Money. I have no idea what he did with all the money he earned, but it was surprisingly profitable.
At 11 he was a song and dance man and talent scout. I’d recommend that you all ask Ben about his stirring rendition of Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend and Two Little Girls from Little Rock. It brought the house down. That happened at a yoga camp – for those of you who don’t know Ben’s stepmother Eve is a renowned yoga teacher – and Ben attended a few week-long retreats. At those retreats he was the one who’d organize the Saturday Night entertainment. If you didn’t want to entertain he’d suggest you tell a joke. If you said you didn’t know any jokes, he offered to supply one. Not entertaining was never an option.
At 12 he took up computers. He got scary good. He found freelance work helping people set up their systems and email. He had become both a trainer and a consultant.
In that same year he got his first actual job. He walked around to every computer shop he could find and asked if they had any work for him – and eventually he found a job. He stayed a geek for just a few years until someone asked him to do some programming – so he decided it was time to move on. (I’m a programmer so I could well understand him running the other way.)
By the time he was 13 it was clear that he needed a wider range of experience. So, to further his business career, he started working at Dominos Pizza. That’s where he mastered business and gave most of his friends their first job. He worked his way up to being a store manager before he was 20.
Because working full time left a few hours free he attended Macquarie Uni at the same time. He ended up with a degree in Media while still working at Dominos.
Somehow he eventually put together all his networking skills and various creative and media skills into his job at Better Homes and Gardens. That’s where he mastered video editing and forged one more career for himself.
I doubt very much that this will be his last career – but someone this one has granted him long service leave. For the next year he’s going to be a world traveler and will, no doubt, master a whole new set of skills.
I look back on it all and it’s clear that everything Ben has done he’s done all by himself. He’s really a self made man. I didn’t teach him how to do any of the things he’s done. He’s discovered and developed a wide range of talents and abilities without outside intervention. I was around and watching, and maybe he picked up an idea or two along the way, but no kidding – he’s the one responsible for it all.
When Ben was about 23 he met Jade. In the last 6 years I’ve watched him use all the skills he learned in his varied careers, and whatever he learned from Mandy, Eve, Richard and me, to build a truly beautiful relationship. It’s always a pleasure to see Ben and Jade. They have a fantastic ability to work together and play together and share their world.
So I’m not at all proud of what Ben and Jade have created, pride really has nothing to do with it. I’m impressed, but I haven’t earned pride.
He’s had quite a few careers along the way. And he’s been good at the all.
He hasn’t lost any of those skills and talents. Each one has built on all the others.
And Ben’s used them to bring Jade into his life, and into ours. This is his greatest achievement so far.
I can’t and don’t take credit for any of it. It’s Ben and Jade who deserve to be proud. And they deserve to be very proud of themselves.
As for me, I’m just fortunate. I’m lucky that I get Ben to love. I’m lucky that he seems to like me. (He’s obligated to love me, but being liked is a gift). I’m lucky to have Jade in my life and that the two of them are so fantastic together. And most of all I’m lucky to have the one thing every parent wants – to see my son and his bride so happy.
According to Dr. Google, in a father of the groom speech I’m expected to offer advice about how to have a successful marriage. I’m not big on giving advice, so I’ll just quote the great American poet Ogden Nash;
To keep your marriage brimming
with love in the loving cup
whenever you’re wrong admit it
whenever you’re right shut up
And now on behalf of Mandy, Eve, Richard and myself I want to propose a toast to the bride and groom – so please charge your glasses and be upstanding.
To Jade and Ben. May your lives together be joyous, loving, fulfilling and fun.