From the very first, we realized he was here for a purpose or at the very least MEANT to be here. Could have been to even things out: Two girls / Two boys, etc... Could be any number of reasons, but however you want to put it, March 20, 1986 was a day that changed the world. It wouldn't ever be the same. James Roy Darden landed on this 'ol rock and immediately began shaping his destiny. Although he and I spent alot of time together in his earlier years, it was easy to tell he looked up to his older brother alot and to this day they are "thick as thieves".
In a little less than 2 weeks from the time of this post, James and Jacob will stand together as James marries the woman that he has professed his love for, for a very long time ago. Her name is Stephanie, and as all of you can attest to, his mother and I did the parent thing and figured we were not too sure of this relationship. Now, to know Steph is to see her spilling over with smiles, generosity, and caring. Add class and maturity, and it was not too long before we were sold out on this girl and saw what our youngest son had been smart enough to see long ago. It seems like forever when they told us they were marrying, and yet again it was just like yesterday. Steph has done text-book style preparation and although there are a few minor (cough, cough) things left to do, we are just mere days away from what some would call the wedding of the year. Now, mind you, I took James aside at the beginning of this process and advised him that the number one thing he has to do is simply show up. He has hired a man to help him accomplish this and to make sure he makes it to the wedding on time. This would be his brother Jacob. I had also advised James that this was Steph's wedding, and to NOT criticize the process or hesitate his answers when asked for his opinion. He, again, understood his role and it was to just make sure he never said horrible phrases such as, "now wait a minute", or, "you're kidding, right?", or "I don't care what you say, I LIKE the Chicken Dance". While statistics may state differently, most marriages are doomed during the planning phase as opposed to seven years in.
We laugh alot during this whole process, but Steph will tell you there have been nights when she hasn't slept because of something that either hadn't gone well, or something major coming up, so it isn't all fun and games, and as all of us men know, she deserves the most beautiful wedding that she can have. I know she feels the presence of her mom in all of this and that helps alot.
It's that dogged pursuit of perfection, the close eye to details and the ability to juggle several things at once that helped win us over from our initial opinion of Steph, but it was the devotion and unbridled love James has expressed for her that makes us love her as well.
You know it has been said that only a special few women get to marry a Darden male and on Friday evening August 5th, another one goes off the market.
I wonder if Steph's been practicing her new signature...