Weddings are happy occasions, but there was a lot of tension in the air at this reception! The bride’s parents weren’t pleased with the social status of their new in-laws. “A janitor! I can’t believe our beautiful daughter is marrying a janitor’s son, her father groaned.
But his jaw dropped when the man he was complaining about walked in. The janitor was dressed in a smart and expensive-looking suit. However, the most impressive thing was the gift he had for the newlyweds—the bride’s father couldn’t believe it!
Brooke was an only child and had a great relationship with her parents. Her father was very strict and demanded good grades when she was growing up, but he also gave the best cuddles. Her mother was her best friend, and they always shared stories over a hot cup of tea.
When Brooke started university, her father told her sternly she wasn’t allowed to date until after she graduated. At the time, Brooke had rolled her eyes and knew he was just being overprotective. She hadn’t meant to meet someone, but now she bit her lip, wondering how he would react to the news?
When Brooke met John, she never thought he would be her future husband. She appreciated John’s quiet nature and his determination and knew this was someone who would help her reach her goals.
When their friendship turned into a romance, Brooke was so happy but also full of guilt. She had never kept a secret from her mother but knew the romance would make her father angry. She hid the relationship for a year, but then John asked her one question that would change the rest of her life.
One night John invited Brooke to go for a walk with him. The night was humid, and as they walked, the sun began to set. With her arm linked in John’s, Brooke was so happy. She was confused when John stopped walking and turned to face her. His face looked anxious and concerned.
Brooke looked into his eyes, “John, are you ok?” He licked his lips nervously. “I know we’ve only been dating for a year, but I am head over heels in love with you. I can’t wait another minute for us to begin planning our life together.” Brooke gasped as John got down on one knee. “Will you marry me?”
Brooke started crying and couldn’t stop smiling! “Yes, John! Yes, I’ll marry you!” She fell to her knees as the couple kissed, and John put the engagement ring on her finger. Brooke couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful ring or her handsome fiance.
With this proposal, she knew the relationship could no longer be a secret. “John, we have to keep this engagement a secret until you meet my parents.” His smile disappeared but only for a minute. “That’s ok. When can I meet them? Why haven’t you told them about me yet?” Brooke hung her head in shame. Would John still marry her after he found out the truth?
Brooke didn’t know how to tell John about her father’s rule and her fear of telling him that she had broken his trust. She was such a good daughter; she had never broken the rules before. John listened patiently and, in the end, wrapped her in a big hug.
“Brooke, whatever you need from me, I’ll do it. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. We’re going to be a great team and can solve any problem. I’m sure your father will understand. Let’s tell them this week?” Brooke appreciated John’s support, but she knew her father would not be happy. How could she break the news to him without risking her relationship?
Brooke knew she had to tell her mother first. No one understood her father as she did, and if she was going to get her father’s blessing, her mother’s help was crucial. The morning after her engagement, Brooke made a pot of tea and sat down with her mother.
Brooke took a deep breath. “Mom, I need to tell you something. Please know that I respect you and dad, and I never meant to hurt you.” Her mother was concerned. What was her daughter talking about? “Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” Amelia stared into her mother’s eyes and took a deep breath.
“Mom, when I started University, dad told me I wasn’t allowed to date, but I met someone. I never knew how to tell you, so I kept it a secret. I’m so in love with him, and last night he asked me to marry him.” Brooke held her breath, observing her mother’s reaction.
Her mother gasped! Her baby girl was engaged, and to someone she didn’t even know? She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. As she stayed calm, she said to her daughter, “Brooke, start from the beginning and tell me everything.” The words began to flow from Brooke’s mouth, and the mother realized her husband had made a fatal mistake.
Her mother listened carefully. John sounded like an excellent young man. She cursed her husband for telling their sweet daughter not to date and missing out on meeting him sooner. When Brooke finished, her mother had tears shining in her eyes. Alarmed, Brooke questioned, “Mom! What’s wrong? Did I upset you?”
Her mother wiped her eyes and began to laugh. “No darling, I’m just so happy. John sounds amazing! I wish I had known when it first started to celebrate your love earlier. I can’t waste another minute! When can we meet him?” Brooke was so relieved, but didn’t her mom understand the bigger problem?
“I’m so relieved! Mom, I want you to meet him as soon as possible, but what are we going to do about dad?” Her mother patted her arm and said, “Let me worry about him. Get my future son-in-law over her! I can’t wait to meet him and begin planning the wedding!” Brooke let out a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. Her wedding! She was a bride!
She sat on the couch for hours telling her mother everything about John, and they made a plan for her dad. She picked up her phone after the chat and texted John.
‘Told my mom. She’s so excited to meet you. When are you free for dinner this week?’
She barely had to wait a minute before John’s excited reply came through.
‘I can’t wait! Thursday? Love you’
Brooke held the phone to her chest. Would everything work out in her perfect romance?
Brooke’s mother had spoken to her husband privately and told him what was going on. His first reaction was anger. He had told his daughter, not to date, and now she was engaged! As he started to express his anger, his wife held up one hand and silenced him. Her eyes were filled with her own fury.
“You will not ruin this moment or our relationship with our daughter. We almost didn’t know she was going to get married because of your ridiculous rules. We are meeting this young man tomorrow. When you sit down at the dinner table, be prepared to welcome him into our family!” His wife had never spoken to him like that. He didn’t know what else to do and nodded his head. What was happening to his family?
He asked his wife what she knew about her daughter’s fiance but all she told him was his first name—John. It seemed like a strong name, but he wanted to know more. He owned a successful business and had the tools to run a background check on this man but his wife wouldn’t budge.
All day he watched her prepare dishes and clean the house. He sulked in the living room. His daughter still hadn’t spoken to him, and he was hurt about it. He knew he was strict but did his daughter fear him? Didn’t she know all of his rules were for her protection?
Everyone was waiting anxiously for the doorbell. His daughter still hadn’t spoken to him, and they all sat in awkward silence waiting for the doorbell. When the sound echoed through their house, he watched the smile spread on her daughter’s face as she ran to greet her guest.
His wife gave him one more warning look, and he nodded. He understood to play nice, but he still wanted the final say on who his daughter was marrying. He hoped this young man was prepared to answer all his questions. Finally, the moment was here, and John stepped into the living room.
Brooke was holding John’s hand as she introduced him to her parents. “Mom, Dad, this is John.” Her father could hear the nerves in her voice, and it broke his heart that he made her so nervous. He stepped forward and shook John’s hand. From first appearances, John was clean and didn’t look like a troublemaker.
Her father wanted to know about his family and his future plans. “John, it’s nice to meet you. Tell me about yourself.” John began to rattle off his accomplishments, but her father stopped him. “No, tell me about your family. Who are your parents?” John looked nervously at Brooke. What secret had her father just revealed?
Brooke smiled up at him encouragingly as John looked back to her father. “My mother passed away when I was young. My father raised me by himself.” Her father was saddened to hear this but pushed on. “Tell me about your father. What does he do?”
John wanted to make a good first impression, but he knew his answer wasn’t what Brooke’s father wanted to hear. He began to speak and could see her father was not prepared for this. Was dinner already ruined before it started?
Without hesitation, John replied, “Sir, I’m sorry, but my dad doesn’t like me to speak about his work. You’ll have to wait to ask him yourself.” What kind of answer was this? What did that mean his father did for work? Brooke’s father was disappointed.
Throughout dinner, he continued to try and find out more information on John’s mysterious family. Why was it such a big secret? The more John evaded his questions, the more frustrated Brooke’s father became. Finally, he couldn’t hold his temper anymore. “Brooke! How can you marry someone who won’t tell us about their family?” What was John hiding?
Brooke was shocked at her father’s outburst! “Dad! John doesn’t owe you an explanation! Stop looking for things that are wrong.” He was stunned by his daughter’s response. She had never spoken to him like that before! “How dare you be so rude to me! John has already had a negative impact. I forbid you from marrying him!”
His wife and daughter were shocked! The whole table went quiet. “Dad, it’s not up to you. I will marry John and hope to see you at the ceremony. I think we should leave.” The couple stood up, and her father became even angrier. “Where do you think you’re going with this stranger?” Brooke looked at her father, and he realized his terrible mistake.
Brooke stared at the man she had looked up to for her entire life. Right now, he felt like a total stranger. “I’m walking out the door with my fiance. He is a good and honest man. Right now, he’s the only man at this table that I believe in.” Her father’s jaw fell open as he watched his daughter walk away.
John was uncomfortable and tried to thank Brooke’s parents for dinner before he ran out after her. He looked at his wife, and she was still shocked at his outburst. “All I asked you to do tonight was have an open mind. What if we lose our only daughter now due to your stubborn nature.” She got up and left the table, and he was all alone. How had things gone so wrong in his perfect family?
The next day Brooke’s father got up early and went to work. When he arrived at his office, the only person there was the janitor. Over the years, the two men had spoken briefly, and Brooke’s father appreciated his hard work and reliability.
This morning, the janitor saw his boss’s face and instantly knew the man was troubled. He stopped what he was doing and asked, “Sir, what’s wrong?” He watched as the other older man’s shoulders slumped. He looked at the janitor and said, “Do you have kids?” The old janitor’s face broke into a grin. The two men had more in common than they knew.
“Yes, sir, I have a son. He’s the apple of my eye. I’m so proud of him.” Brooke’s father smiled. “I have a daughter, and up until last night, I was proud of her too. Then, last night I met her fiance for the first time, and I didn’t trust him. What can I do? I’m trying to protect my family, but now my wife and daughter aren’t speaking to me.” He dropped his head again and was surprised to feel the janitor’s hand on his shoulder.
The janitor spoke slowly. “Everything we do in our life is for our children. At a certain point, we have to trust their decisions. You have given everything to your daughter, just like I’ve given everything to my son. We need to trust them as they grow up.” Brooke’s father felt oddly comforted and thanked the man, not knowing their worlds would soon collide!
All day the father threw himself into his work. He tried to call his wife and daughter, but no one would answer his call. He began to see how empty and lonely his life would be without the two of them in it. He vowed to make it up to his family.
Back at home, Brooke and her mother were making wedding plans. Last night, Brooke had a long talk with John, and the couple was going to pay for their own wedding. Even though her mother thought they were ridiculous, Brooke insisted she didn’t want any of her dad’s money. What kind of celebration would the young couple be able to throw?
Over the next few months, Brooke picked up a part-time job, and she and John worked long hours to save for their wedding. The young couple just wanted a small party with their closest friends. Would either of them have family that would show up to support their union?
Brooke didn’t know a lot about John’s father but had met him several times. He was a friendly older man that devoted his life to making sure John was happy. All Brooke knew was John’s father worked a lot. Her fiance wanted to make sure he could get a job that would keep his father comfortable in old age. But the father also had a huge surprise for his son!
While Brooke was busy trying to save for the wedding and attend school, her father was trying to figure out how he could apologize. He hated feeling so distant from his wife and daughter. What did he have in this life if he didn’t have his family?
He tried to buy them both gifts, and they remained unopened. He booked restaurant reservations, and neither one of them showed up. One night, overwhelmed by his emotions, he knocked on his daughter’s door. He knew it was now or never, and he couldn’t stand this punishment any longer.
Brooke opened the door and was surprised to see her father standing there. “Dad, I’m exhausted. I’m not in the mood for an argument.” He held up his hands and quietly said, “Can we talk? I don’t want to argue either.” Brooke conceded and opened her door.
Her father came in and looked at his daughter’s room. Over the years, she had won many trophies, and her walls were still painted a light pink from when they brought her home from the hospital. He turned to face her, “Brooke, I realize I’ve made a terrible mistake. Can I explain one thing to you?” She was stunned to hear her father admit this. What else would he say?
Brooke sat down on her bed, and her father sat down next to her. He began to speak, and she had never heard his voice so low. “When you were a little girl, I worked for a factory making car parts. You were so young that your mother stayed home with you. We lived paycheck to paycheck but coming home to my family was priceless.”
“One day, without warning, the factory told us they were closing. They gave us two weeks’ notice. I was in a total state of panic. When I came home that night and told your mother, we both cried. We were both so scared. I needed to figure out what I was doing, and time was ticking away.” Brooke had never heard this story. She sat next to her father in shock, listening as he kept telling her about the past.
Her father continued. “Before working at the factory, I had dreams of being my own boss, but I was always held back by fear. With the factory closing, this was my chance. I knew I was taking a massive risk, but what other options did I have?”
“Starting my company was the scariest adventure I ever took. I was incredibly grateful it paid off, and I could support my family. Regardless of the day I had, the best part was walking through the front door to you and your mother. Brooke, nothing means more to me than my family. Please, I’m begging you, let me find a way to make this better.”
Brooke listened to her father and realized why he had been so strict for so many years. She was still angry with his reaction and treatment of John but didn’t want to cause him any more pain. She took her father’s hand and told him, “Dad, you’ve always been my hero. I love you. I’m disappointed, but I’m ready to forgive you.”
She could see the smile stretching across her father’s face. She needed to continue, “I am ready to forgive you, but you need to make more of an effort with John. When you make an effort with John, it shows me you trust my judgment. I’ll always be your little girl, but I need your support.” Her father’s eyes brimmed with tears. Could he do the one thing Brooke wanted?
He was so happy, and he couldn’t stop crying. “Brooke, I promise. Whatever it takes to get back your trust, I’ll do.” She stood up and gave her father a big hug. Brooke had missed him during their fighting as well.
“Dad, I still need to finish some work. I love you; we’ll chat later.” He left her room with a happy heart and was excited for what the future would bring. How could he show her he was willing to give John a chance? He knew he needed a plan, but what would it take?
Brooke and John had stayed firm on not accepting money from their parents. Together the young couple had managed to save up a few thousand dollars and had a small intimate ceremony in Brooke’s parents’ backyard.
Brooke’s mom had been busy cooking for weeks. She understood her daughter not accepting any money, but she would make sure every wedding guest had the best. She knocked on her daughter’s door and was overwhelmed with emotion seeing her in her wedding dress.
Brooke had never been more certain of anything. She had found a simple white dress, and as her mother entered her room Brooke knew the final piece that would make everything perfect. “Mom, I need to ask you a favor.” Her mother wiped her eyes but excitedly began to nod.
“Anything! What can I do?” Brooke smiled and knew how personal the request was. “Mom, I know you still have your veil from your wedding. It would mean the world to me if I could wear it while I walk down the aisle.” Her mother was so touched and overwhelmed with emotion. She ran out of the room to find the veil. When she put it on her daughter’s head, everything was perfect.
Brooke’s father heard the doorbell and went to greet the guests. When he opened the door, he saw John’s nervous face smiling back at him. He immediately opened his arms to hug his future son-in-law. He remembered being a young groom and knew how nervous he might be.
As he let go of John, he said, “Welcome to the family, son.” John was surprised, but his shoulders relaxed. “Thank you, sir. I’d also like for you to meet my dad, Frank.” Brooke’s father turned to shake this man’s hand but took a step back out of shock. What kind of cruel trick was this by the universe? Surely there had been a mistake!
Frank was his company’s janitor. The two men had worked together for years, and it was his advice that made him patch things up with his daughter. Brooke’s father became embarrassed. Surely John’s dad knows how he first behaved. Had he known what was going on when he asked for advice?
Frank stuck out his hand, “Sir…” before he could even finish the sentence, Brooke’s father interrupted him. “I can’t this! How can my daughter be marrying the janitor’s son? How will she survive? Where will they live?”
Every made sense now! This was why John was so elusive about where his father worked. Frank looked at his boss with a sad expression, “remember what I told you before, we should trust that our kids can take care of themselves. Your lovely daughter will be well taken care of by my son.”
Hearing the commotion, Brooke’s mother rushed to the scene. She didn’t want anything to go wrong today. When she heard what happened she was also a little concerned that Frank was a janitor. But she told the men they had to put their differences aside and get outside immediately.
As everyone was beginning to make toasts, Brooke was overwhelmed with joy watching her loved ones. Surrounded by their closest friends, she knew they had made the right decision. Suddenly John’s father tapped on his glass and slowly stood to say a few words. What could he possibly say or offer the young couple?
In his quiet voice, he said, “Today as we celebrate John & Brooke, I remember the love of my life, John’s mother. She would have been so incredibly proud of you, son, and she would’ve wanted to make sure you had a beautiful home to start your life together. I want to give you the deed to our house for you and Brooke to make it a home. I’ve already moved my things out.” The young couple was shocked, but no one was more shocked than Brooke’s parents.
The young couple rushed to hug John’s father as the guests began to whisper over his generosity. Brooke’s father knew he couldn’t compete or have anything that his daughter would accept. He also stood up to shake Frank’s hand. For years he had overlooked him due to being the building janitor, but he was a formidable man.
He knew that if John was anything like his father, his little girl would be happy and safe for the rest of his life. He raised his glass and loudly said to the small crowd, “I would like to raise a toast to the best man. Frank, welcome to our family. Your generosity knows no limits, and I’m thrilled for our children’s future.”