The Church of Saint Giles (Ægidius), or Kostel svatého Jiljí in Czech, is almost right in the heart of the old town of Prague. There are many beautiful churches outside Italy, and Saint Giles church, built at the beginning of the 14th century, is one of the most beautiful I have seen. The priest likened it to an ante chamber of Heaven. I was at the church in early November for the wedding of my eldest son, Sammy, to Petra Doleželova, a young Czech lady he met while studying for his Masters in Diplomatic Studies at the University of Malta, and I agreed.
Sitting close to the altar, and for a brief moment I imagined myself living a dream. With the precision of a German master’s clockwork, everything was ticking in unison as planned meticulously by Petra and her bridesmaids – the stuff from which fairy tales are spun.
Like time, the bridesmaids moved quickly as if floating on soft air like the fairies of a Disney movie, and then stopped suddenly. The ceremony uniting Petra and Sammy in marriage was about to begin with the established Catholic traditions in English and Czech. Thirty or forty minutes later, the grand finale – the bride and bridegroom exchanging vows for a life-long union.
During the ceremony the word ‘love’ was repeated more than a dozen times and for a good reason. Love is one of probably five or six topics that dominate the life of human beings but what is love? There are countless definitions of the word but if we go back 15,000 or so years we will discover that the ‘natural’ definition of live is ‘giving’. The bilateral root of the word in ancient Arabian, the closest daughter to the mother tongue known as Ursemitisch, means ‘seeds’. Like in most bilateral roots, the meaning is all inclusive of kind, therefore ‘seeds’ would also mean any kind of edible seeds or shaped vegetables as well as fruit – apples, oranges, grapes, figs, etc.
Love in the hunting age was essential not just for the continuation of marriage (then a sort of cohabitation tradition) but for the very survival of human beings. If a man doesn’t love his wife, he wouldn’t protect her nor would he feed his children. The same applies to women. The concept of duty comes from a trilateral root and therefore a coinage several thousand years after the concept of love. Love in the old times was a natural duty.
When time came for a few words of the dads of the bride and bridegroom, my friend, Jiri, Petra’s dad, was emotional. I was no less emotional but the guests, including several friends of Sammy and Petra who came for the occasion from Malta, England, Romania and Sweden, were silent and the words had to be said. In such occasions, a speech should be like the dress of a pretty girl – short but not too revealing. I am at an age where I have absolutely nothing exciting to reveal – not even to my good wife, so it should be brief.
And in brief, aside from the duty of giving, couples should fall in love to make their partners happy. They should also marry for the same reason or not love at all nor marry at all. Looking at my son and his wife I felt I was looking at miracle. They are just man and wife, but they are in love. Every love story is a miracle and I was, we all were, looking at a fine example.
We are proud of our Sammy. His mom and I looked after him well and, like his brother Daniel, he was a happy child. They are the words of his dad, but Sammy is a gentleman, a title I don’t dare to claim. He can be a wall, if he wants to. A wall in which a bright, happy window was opened it. We have to thank Petra for that.
I tell my boys do not bring me a girl – bring me a lady. Sammy did and I’m sure Daniel, in good time, will do the same When, by chance, we met Petra for the first time, we tried to hide our thrill at Sammy having managed to attract such a girl to his heart. But behind closed doors we were ecstatic. Like all novelists, I am a sinner so I don’t believe God would listen to my prayers but his mom is a devout Catholic and I believe she prayed at the time for Petra and Sammy to bond and marry. It is clear that her prayers were answered.
In brief we were giving the Doleželovi, Petra’s family, a gentleman and a fine eldest son but I think they are doing even better – they are giving us their only daughter – an accomplished lady with amazing looks that shine along with her amazing intelligence. At no time in their marriage, Sammy should brag about your Master’s degree – Petra has two and a little dog as well.
Probably above all else, marriage ceremonies are celebrations of love. Like all other people, married people, like all other lovers, need help that can help sustain and strengthen their social and religious bond. As families and friends, we shouldn’t just hope that they will be happy but do all we can to make them happy – now and always.
During his longish stays in Prague, Jiri, Petra’s father and Jelena, Petra’s mom looked after our son. My wife, my son and I will do the same for Petra and for her family. Jiri and Jelena didn’t give away their only daughter – they gained another son and husband to their beloved daughter.
And off they go on their long honeymoon carried to their waiting car on chairs – Petra by her two brothers, and Sammy by his brother, Daniel, and his best man, Kevin, an affable and intelligent young man who looks always happy and always anxious to make all those around him as happy as he is.
Děkuj Petra and Sammy for giving me the happiest day of my life