On this momentous occasion, your wedding day, I would like to tell you both, Liana and Eimhin, how happy, how proud I feel to see you starting this new life together as a married couple. I have had the privilege of witnessing your love grow ever stronger over the past six years. A love which has led to the vows you have taken this evening to love and cherish one another forever more. Dear Eimhin, we welcome you today with open arms as the newest member of our family. I am convinced that thanks to your deep awareness of Liana’s needs, your intelligence and devotion, you will go beyond the call of duty to take excellent care of my daughter.
I know, Liana, you asked me not to tell any stories about you. But I must. For starters, I was never supposed to have a daughter, only clones of Daniel. But you showed up on June 4th, 1982, and you have been the apple of my eye ever since.
Let me tell you all about a summer event: I thought I had put her into swimming lessons, but instead, on her bike, summer in and summer out, she would play pool in some hall on Saint-Laurent boulevard without me ever catching on! But a mother’s dream was to have a daughter register at Medical or Dental School. So what did Liana do? In mid-year at the Université de Montréal, she showed up at the house informing me she was taking the rest of her second year off, to find her bearings! No kidding, she got a job as some sort of salesgirl at a Club Moncaco boutique, assiduously packing and unpacking boxes, feeling extremely valorized as she was considered an excellent prospect for the schmata business. Great for the schmata business, but what did that have to do with Dental School? She said: “Mom, I have to find myself!” After this experience, I racked my brains so such an event would never reoccur and discovered that travelling to Europe or wherever for passing marks was the perfect solution. Consequently Liana, between the ages of 18 and 24 or so managed to shlep through countless countries, staying in youth hostels, bonding with many future like-minded friends. She had a great time!
And she probably never slept. And she never slept as a baby either. But she always was a joy, loyal, fun, loving, adorable, forever keeping me grounded, a breath of fresh air!
All of this to say that Liana’s traits are reflected in Eimhin. For he is a calm, smart, reliable, profound and, as a bonus, incredibly good-looking fellow. When I first met him, the image of Michelangelo’s David sprung to mind or perhaps that of a Renaissance cherub, what with stunning locks and perfectly sculpted face! But these Golden Boy features are considerably eclipsed by his excellent character, focused intellect and solid qualities of the heart.
At this point, in honour of Liana and Eimhin, at the start of their married life together, I can think of no better advice to offer than that expressed by Shakespeare’s sonnet entitled:
“Let Me Not To The Marriage of True Minds Admit Impediments” – which, by the way, brings back to memory the fact that Liana, in her first year of Dental School, took a 4th year course on Shakespeare and, I believe, ranked first on her final exam. So here it is, sonnet 116:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
And now, a few words addressed to my daughter via Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet 43 entitled:
|“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”|
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Which I hope, Eimhin and Liana, you will recite to each other on your 50th wedding anniversary.
Dearest Liana, your husband will be your pillar throughout life’s ups and downs that await you. But know that I will always remain by your side and assist you wherever needed. Distinguished guests, dear family members and friends, I would like to thank all of you, some of whom have travelled quite a distance to attend Liana’s and Eimhin’s wedding. Your presence honors us. You have come to witness this new union which will, we truly hope, be happy and prosperous.
As Liana’s family is hardly represented on her maternal side, I’d like to impress upon her the following: First and foremost, Grandma and Grandpa would be supremely proud and happy for you on this, your wedding day. But you must also remember their lineage and legacy that is yours to perpetuate.
Frederic Daniel Saragea, my father, was a brilliant lawyer and journalist. Your Grandma, my mother, Corina Laver Saragea, was an extraordinary concert pianist who, between the ages of 18 and 21, at Bucharest’s Philharmonic Hall, regularly gave solo piano performances and received standing ovations from the Romanian Royal Family.
Your great-grandfather, Daniel Schrager, was a teacher who had met his future wife, Maria Zosmer, at university. As Jews in those days were allowed to obtain university degrees but not permitted to practice their professions thereafter, Daniel and Maria were consequently dirt poor despite their academic degrees. Maria Zosmer, your great-grandmother, had nine brothers, eight of whom were dentists. So you see, dentistry was the right choice – it was meant to be. My grandmother Maria’s one other brother, Baruch Zosmer, a lawyer, in 1948 became Romania’s first ambassador to Israel.
One more word about your Grandma Corina’s side of the family. My grandfather, Solomon Laver, was an outstanding engineer and extremely successful entrepreneur. An uncommonly generous husband and father, Solomon besides shared his huge wealth with so many needy people in Bucharest that, at the time of his passing, the synagogue was filled to capacity with entirely unknown folks whom your great-grandfather had secretly supported. In memory of such quite heroic lives that have directly led to who you are today, I urge you to ensure this extraordinary legacy of courage, learning and community service is transmitted to the next generation.
At this point, I invite you all to raise a glass and drink to the health and happiness of this young couple. To the newlyweds! To Canada!