New Beginnings

By the time she reads this, she’ll be married, and I will have had the honor of walking her down the aisle and dancing the father/daughter dance with her. Her husband, as far as I can tell, is a good man, a kind and decent man, exactly the sort of man any parents would wish for their daughter. Jason and Shonda are perfect for each other. They have the kind of partnership—the easy give and take—that lasts.

For those of you who don’t know the story of my wife Cathy and me, the fact is we fell in love in 1974 when I was eighteen and Cathy was sixteen. Then, as young couples often do, we went our separate ways only to reconnect thirty-four years later and to eventually marry. The last time I talked to Cathy before those years of silence was in 1976. She’d just given birth and was a single mother putting herself through nursing school so she could offer her daughter a stable life. The biological father was no longer in the picture.

“What did you name her?” I asked.

I was in a payphone booth seventeen miles from where Cathy lived. I was trying to convince her to see me, but she wasn’t having it since I was married at the time. I’m not proud to admit that I was calling a former girlfriend and trying to persuade her to see me so we could “just talk,” but there it is, the truth. I admire Cathy for turning down my request. Who knows what might have happened if she’d agreed?

“Shonda,” she said.

Then I said something I immediately felt I had no right to say.

“Give her a kiss for me,” I said, and Cathy said she would, and I hung up the phone, not knowing how long it would be before I once again heard her voice, not knowing I would never have a child of my own.

A long life is made up of new beginnings. Sometimes we don’t where they start until enough of the story has unfolded. Sometimes we have to get to the end of a story before we know how it began, or how it should begin. Yes, I’m talking about revising a piece of writing, but I’m also talking about the events of a life that connect to moments to come. That day in the payphone booth, I had no idea that Shonda’s birth held the story of what’s to come this weekend. Perhaps I had no right to ask Cathy to give her a kiss for me all those years ago. I only know, come Sunday, I’ll give Shonda that kiss, and then, like any proud father, I’ll walk her down the aisle, and when the officiant asks, “Who gives this woman to be wed,” I’ll answer, with all the love in my heart, “Her mother and I.”


  1. Dawn Denham on July 19, 2021 at 9:03 am

    Beautiful, Lee. Weepy, now. Beautiful photos, too. Love you.

    • Lee Martin on July 19, 2021 at 8:22 pm

      Thanks, Dawn. Cathy and I send our love.

  2. Susan Cole on July 19, 2021 at 9:15 am

    Congratulations and Mazel Tov! How lovely, and true.

    • Lee Martin on July 19, 2021 at 8:22 pm

      Thank you so much, Susan. I hope you and yours are doing well.

  3. Denyse on July 19, 2021 at 9:45 am

    ❤️Beautiful story. I am feeling emotional today for some reason, and this story just resonates with so much happiness I could cry. If people read a story with a plot like this they might say, “this is just too fake and events like this can’t be real.” 😊
    What a wonder love story in so many ways.

    • Lee Martin on July 19, 2021 at 8:21 pm

      That’s the thing about writing nonfiction. The facts are the facts. We’ve been feeling a bit emotional, too. Thanks for letting me know that this post touched your heart.

  4. Nita Sweeney on July 19, 2021 at 10:17 am

    My throat is full of happy tears. Congratulations to you all.

    • Lee Martin on July 19, 2021 at 8:19 pm

      We shed a few happy tears ourselves last night. Thank you for your good wishes.

      • Rosalie Mccord on July 21, 2021 at 9:11 pm

        Simply beautiful. Words from your heart.

  5. Marlene Lewis on July 19, 2021 at 10:33 am

    So beautifully said.

    • Lee Martin on July 19, 2021 at 8:18 pm

      Hello, Marlene. Thank you for reading my blog and for taking the time to leave a comment. I know that Shonda thinks the world of you and Chet. Blessings to you both.

  6. Meryl Peters on July 19, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    Dear Lee,

    I read you every week but don’t usually comment. This post touches my heart in a personal way. We have a similar story with my daughter. Thank you for ALWAYS sharing your stories that resonate for our writing life. Like Susan Cole, I say Mazel Tov! Congratulations to the happy couple and to her proud parents.


    Meryl (from CA)

    • Lee Martin on July 19, 2021 at 8:16 pm

      Dear Meryl. So good to hear from you. I hope you and yours are doing well. I’m always happy when something I write resonates with a reader. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and to leave a comment

  7. Cinda Thompson on July 19, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Beautiful!! Wishing the best to all of you!! May God’s blessing on you Lee, Cathy, Shonda and Jason!!

    • Lee Martin on July 19, 2021 at 8:13 pm

      Thank you, Cinda. Blessings to you and Mike.

  8. Terri Schrader on July 19, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    So completely overwhelmed for you Lee! God had a plan all along for the three of you. I am so happy that this story is unfolding as it is. ♥️

    • Lee Martin on July 19, 2021 at 8:12 pm

      Thanks so much, Terri. We’re certainly happy that things are working out the way they are.

  9. Cheryl Wright-Watkins on July 20, 2021 at 7:43 am

    So moving, Lee. Wishing all of you a perfect weekend and lifetimes of happiness.

  10. Linda Kass on July 20, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    So beautiful, Lee—the story, the way you told it, the wedding photo.
    Warmest wishes and congratulations to you and Cathy on this heartwarming and important occasion!

    • Lee Martin on July 20, 2021 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks very much, Linda. It was quite the event, and we’re still basking in its glow.

  11. Jean Whitlinger on August 6, 2021 at 12:06 am

    I just finished Yours, Jean and just had to google you because I thought it was brilliant. And then I read this blog and I am practically bawling. Thank you for sharing your talent and heart and best wishes to the happy couple. My TBR list just got bigger.

    Yours, Jean

    • Lee Martin on August 6, 2021 at 11:12 am

      Dear Jean. It’s so kind of you to leave this message. Thank you for your good words about my novel and my blog post. I try to do a new post each Monday. Most of them are about the craft of writing, but once in a while I turn to something more personal, as I did with our daughter’s wedding. Take good care.


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