February 4, 2021

Papa’s little girl and Monte

STANDING IN FOR THE FATHER OF THE BRIDE

It was difficult to look at this tall strong man 30 years my senior as a brother—even a half-brother.  And it was even harder for him to see me as a little sister.  When I was in high school, friends and I went to a Friday night football game.  I spied Monte standing with a group of business men friends smoking cigarettes at half time and ran up to say hello to him.  As the men all looked puzzled, he stammered hello and explained to them, “This is Papa’s little girl.”  

I was the first member of my immediate family to have a church wedding—and Monte’s wife Isobel said her church was the best choice—Keith Memorial Methodist Church.  Our church didn’t allow instrumental music even for weddings and I wanted my nephew George to play the organ for my wedding.  She also let me have my wedding portrait made in their lovely living room.  Then came the question of who would give the bride away—since my father had died when I was 14. “Monte would be happy to do that,” Isobel said.  And he agreed.  

He looked so tall and handsome and strong in his dark tuxedo—and seemed genuinely pleased with his role in the Saturday early evening ceremony.  It was the best possible arrangement.

Some years later he and Isobel were divorced—after over 40 years of marriage.  Successful in the hosiery business, he was able to retire before he was 60 and looked forward to traveling, playing golf, going dove hunting and enjoying life.  That wasn’t her lifestyle, and she opted out.

And then a few years after that, I too was getting a divorce.  On one of my first trips back to Athens with the children, Monte took me out to lunch.  As we drove around town in his big Lincoln, we talked about our heartaches and regrets. I was looking for a job and needed money to pay an employment agency in Columbia.  He wrote me a check.  I got the job. And finally, I felt like I had a brother for real—from that day forward. 

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