Doc's Wedding Line: Jillian The Magnificent takes vows
There were sports over the weekend. Must have been. Reds and Mets, NBA draft. Something vital had to have occurred within the NFL's endless melodrama machine.
I missed it all. Sorry.
Well, almost all. I managed to catch some of Reds-Mets Sunday, walking Lucy the Wonderdog in the park, in a purple haze of post-wedding wonder, listening on the phone application. It was during the end of the suspended game. The Club lost. I think.
It's helpful and wonderful to disengage from your job for a few days, even if your job is something as airy as sports writing. Especially if the time off involves one of your kids' weddings.
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I recommend it. The weddings, I mean.
I don't know what it's like to scale Everest or to create a polio vaccine or bloop base hit No. 4,192 onto the plastic at Riverfront Stadium. I couldn't tell you how it feels to be elected president or walk on the moon or run 40 yards in 4.2 seconds. Heaven forbid I should ever attempt something as momentous as, I dunno, the Ickey Shuffle.
I know lifetime achievement, though. I know what it's like to spend every minute of every day working to defy perception and stereotype and How It's Always Been, in the pursuit of another person's happiness, and by extension my own.
At about 6:10 Saturday night, I was Edmund Hillary and Pete Rose, Jonas Salk and Billy Hamilton. That's when Jillian The Magnificent became Jillian Daugherty Mavriplis. In the quiet and profound beauty that defines the Cincinnati Nature Center, she slipped a band on Ryan's finger, completing a defining leg of a journey that began on a soccer field nearly 11 years ago, when the estimable Ryan Mavriplis asked her to Sycamore High's Homecoming dance.
They exchanged vows. Each read a message to the other. They exchanged rings. Jillian smiled with the brilliance of a thousand suns. They each pumped their fists in the direction of their friends, NKU baseball and basketball players mostly. A string quartet offered the soundtrack.
There were readings, from Jillian's big brother Kelly, aka the erstwhile Kid Down the Hall, and Ryan's brother Jon. There were toasts, one offered by the father of the bride, who actually made it through an entire evening without checking his phone for a Reds or Pirates score. I didn't celebrate just Mr. and Mrs. Mavriplis, though, because no couple is an island, not when each was born with Down syndrome. I offered a verbal standing O to all 160 people present:
Here's part of what I said:
"This was truly a communal joining of hands. Every one of you here tonight has played a role in this moment.
"Your kindness, your generosity of spirit, your willingness to see Ryan and Jillian, not simply to look at them. That has made all the difference.
"I could go through a million names, but inevitably I would leave someone out. Each of you has cast a stone of kindness into their lives. Look at the ripples you have made.
I hope, in turn, that Jillian and Ryan have made you all richer in spirit, for having known them. That is not just an essential part of the Jillian-Ryan transaction. It's a reason we're all able to live with optimism for the future. There is nothing more invincible than the human spirit.''
I also had mentions for Kerry Daugherty, force of nature, who created the entire celebration. Fathers, unless you're fascinated by table decorations and food choices or have a decided preference in nail polish colors, I recommend you do what I did for a year at least:
Nod a lot.
In the wedding vernacular: Show Up. Shut Up. Pay Up.
The new couple danced to Heartland's I Loved Her First. Dad and bride danced to Paul Simon's Father and Daughter. Mother and groom danced to Bette Midler's The Wind Beneath My Wings.
We all danced a little, I hope. Even those who weren't actually there. Little wins of the spirit provide universal uplift. What was beautiful for Jillian and Ryan should not be limited to Jillian and Ryan. I'm better for having known each. Their genuine kindness and love is an example for all of us, I think. We're only as good as the way we treat each other.
I vowed to myself to slow time on Saturday night. To put the evening in super slo-mo, as much as possible. It didn't happen that way, of course. Between 6 and 11 seemed like five minutes, and then the new couple slid into the back seat of a 1960 Jaguar sedan, for what Bruce Springsteen called their "mystery ride.''
Here's a clip of Jillian walking down the aisle. Such a smile.
Now, then. . .
SO, POPS, WHEN DID YOU CRY? I didn't, I swear. Not that this is some badge of courage or whatever. It's just. . . interesting. I've never cried for Jillian's big moments: Graduations, proms, first solo excursion on the two-wheeler. Wedding. I have wept along the way, in the throes of the work put in to reach those milestones.
I only came close once Saturday, when she and Ryan were in the back seat of the Jag on the way to their hotel, and I saw her face through the window. She has left me a bunch of times, and I blubbered each time: When she announced one first day of school that she no longer required my presence at the bus stop; when she moved out of the house and into her own apartment right across the street from her Metro stop, meaning she didn't need me to drive her there every morning; and when she decided that lots of stuff she and I did together would now be enjoyed with Ryan instead.
It's hell being replaced. Also, joyous.
Done now, I swear. Thanks for your indulgence.
IF THE REDS NEED A ROLE MODEL, they could look to the Minnesota Twins in the decade of the 2000s, the Mauer-Morneau-Johan Santana era: Six playoff appearances (smoked each time) and five 90-plus win seasons, only one year below .500. That's quite a run for a small-money team.
After four godawful years in a row, the Twins are 5-over .500 now. They're not a scoring machine, ranking in the bottom half of the AL in every major stat category. Their starting pitching is equally average, but the back end of their bullpen is very good.
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