On July 5, 2019, we celebrated the union of our daughter Stacy Sheng Tarver and Corey Darnell Patterson. The wedding celebration took place at the Tryall Club in Sandy Bay, Jamaica. The celebration was a joyous four-day event attended by close friends and family, some of whom came from as far away as Beijing, China. Stacy’s mom Diane Sheng officiated at the wedding ceremony and did a marvelous job. It was gratifying to spend a few days in paradise with the newlyweds and an assortment of friends and family from many different places and cultural backgrounds. We were reminded all week of the beauty and unity that is possible within the human family, and of the power of love to transcend barriers and unite those who surrender to its power.
It has been hard for me to get in touch with my emotions surrounding Stacy’s transition from “daddy’s girl” to “Corey’s wife.” This is not because I harbor any doubts about Stacy’s choice. Corey is an outstanding young man, and I truly feel that I have gained a son rather than having lost a daughter. It’s just that the journey Stacy and I have been on has been so long and so close, and hence it feels as if the universe has shifted in some profound way. Stacy is my firstborn, and from that morning on June 23, 1985 when she tipped the delivery room scale at 7 pounds and 7 ounces, I have felt inexorably and inextricably connected to her. Whether dragging her to the office with me, or on errands around town, or on car trips from New Jersey to Michigan, or even on a business trip to Japan, she was truly my little “road dog.” But our connection has been about much more than just “doing stuff together.”
Here’s an example of one early experience that helped forge the special connection between me and Stacy. On the evening of August 16, 1987, Stacy and I set out on a car trip from New Jersey, where we were living at the time, to visit my family in Michigan. I was driving my red VW Jetta, and Stacy was safely ensconced in her car seat. We set out after the end of my workday, at around 6 pm, so I was driving against my body clock – always a bad idea. We made a rest stop somewhere along route 81 in Pennsylvania, and that is where I learned that Northwest Flight 255 had just crashed upon leaving the airport in Detroit, killing everyone on board except, as we learned later, one little four year old girl. Of course Stacy was oblivious to all this, as she was just over 2 years old, but for me the trip took on a sad and mythical cast. In the wee hours of the morning, we crossed into Canada at Niagara Falls and started up the Q.E.W. to begin the passage through Ontario to Michigan. By this time, I was very tired, and I was doing the telltale head nodding that could presage a terrible accident. At that moment, I heard a tiny voice say, “Daddy tired? Want coffee?” It was Stacy, recognizing that her dad was drifting off and proposing a solution. I was shocked into a fully awakened state, startled because Stacy had only recently started talking, and amazed that she could recognize my condition and make the connection between “tired” and “coffee.” I pulled into a Tim Horton’s at the next exit and got some coffee for me and a doughnut for Stacy. By the time we arrived safely in Michigan later that morning, it was cemented in my mind that Stacy was a special, preternaturally gifted little girl.
Back to the Future
Fast-forward to July 5, 2019. My “little girl,” now an NYU and Columbia Business School graduate, a corporate leader with international experience, is a married woman. We are at the wedding reception, high above Montego Bay, and she is dancing the first dance with her new husband. I have the honor and privilege of singing the song they are dancing to, “Suddenly,” by Billy Ocean. It is a beautiful, hot, sun-drenched evening, and our 90 or so guests are settling in for a long night of reveling. When I return to the table after the song, several guests want to know how I could possibly sing so clearly on such an occasion without breaking down with emotion. I didn’t have a good response. Upon reflection, I realize that I just felt blessed…and satisfied. I was calm because Stacy is in a good place in her life. She is living up to her potential, professionally and personally. She has found an outstanding person with whom she is ready to share the rest of her life. Even so, feelings of blessedness and satisfaction and pride are mixed with the knowledge that this is a major milestone in our lives. I’m reminded of the limited time we share on this earth, and the need to make the most of each day.
Congratulations, Stacy and Corey. May your lives continue to be filled with new adventures and challenges and sparkling achievements. May your friendship and mutual understanding grow ever deeper with each passing year. May God forever bless your union.