Newlyweds Heather and David de la Serna.
Benny Soliven
You calm my soul
FAMILY JEWELS - Michelle Dayrit-Soliven (The Philippine Star) - October 6, 2019 - 12:00am

When my dad was still alive, his best friend in America was Norman Turley. My dad used to say that this man is one of the kindest human beings he had ever known. We call him Papa Norm.

Papa Norm was one of San Francisco’s most eligible bachelors before he fell in love with Nilda Rodriguez, a lovely lady from the Philippines with a hearty laugh and a big, caring heart. She was way younger than him in years. They got married and lived in the Bay Area. At first, Papa Norm thought he was too old to have a child but God gave them one and gleefully, they christened her Heather Joy.

The pretty baby became the apple of his eye. His world drastically changed from bachelor to doting father who changed her diapers, pushed her stroller around the San Francisco Zoo. They moved out of a penthouse on Nob Hill into a four-bedroom house where he planted a garden of huge roses, took care of pets like rabbits, dogs, birds, fish, cats and hamsters for his precious little girl. My family and I enjoyed being their house guests whenever we would visit. We watched Heather grow and bloom from a baby into a talented young lady.

Heather had many schoolmates, who often gathered at their place. She cooked delicious burgers and hosted pool parties. She was a friend to many but we noticed there was a special glow in her face whenever this tall, dark and handsome David de la Serna came along. I knew from the beginning that they had something special. Sparks were igniting all over. Her mom noticed it, too. 

There was one hilarious scene I can never forget. Mama Nilda was eavesdropping while folding her laundry of underwear right in the living room sofa where David and Heather were having a giggly teenage conversation. They were 14 years old.

Years later after high school, they temporarily drew apart. They started talking again after college and never parted since then. We somehow knew that in their heart of hearts,  there was no one else but Heather for David. These two were meant to be together forever. So, when Mama Nilda sent us a Viber message that Heather was engaged to be married, I knew it was one wedding we absolutely couldn’t miss. My husband Benny and I confirmed our attendance.

The wedding took place in San Francisco like a magnificent dream. We marveled at the beautiful Saint Ignatius Church listening in tears as Heather and David, both 31 years old, exchanged their personal vows. Having journeyed with Heather in her growing up years, we felt so at peace at finally seeing these two who truly belonged together, happy ever after.

Heather lovingly said to David, “We’re here. It’s been a long time coming and there’s still so much to look forward to together. I have the feeling of ‘I can’t believe we made it,’ but at the same time, I’ve always known. I always knew you were the one. God always spoke to me telling me this. I am so glad I listened. I’ve always, always loved you, David. My love for you is so deep and powerful. I’ve loved you more than half my life now and your love is so familiar yet still so exciting.

“You are my best friend in the world! You calm my soul. You are home to me.

 “I will always pray for you. I want the best for you and I will always take care of you and our family. We have been through so much, from crazy teenagers to real adults who are building our lives together. We did it! And the best is yet to come, my love.”

The newlyweds with the bride’s parents, Norman and Nilda Turley.

David said to Heather, “It’s hard for me to express how happy I am to be marrying you. I didn’t know much when I was 14, but I knew the moment I met you that you were special to me. The fact that we became so close at such a young age had a huge impact on me. You shaped me into the person I am today and I love you so much for that. You have always been sweet to me but hard on me when it was necessary. You have always been there for me even at our worst of times.

“Heather, you mean the world to me. I’ve never been so confident in any decision I’ve ever made. I’m marrying my best friend. I’m seriously the luckiest guy. I can’t wait to start our journey as a married couple and take the next step toward having a family. I am so blessed and I thank God for bringing us together. I love you with all my heart.”

The soulful wedding, followed by a dancing reception, was magical. It was a joyful reunion of good old friends and families as they danced the night away. It was one of the most memorable weddings we have ever attended.

The day Heather and David arrived from their honeymoon in Bali, we were at the Turley home with her parents to welcome back the newlyweds. They both looked radiant with love. In all the years I knew Heather, I had never seen her more beautiful.

Before we left their home, we stopped by Papa Norm’s bedroom for cocktails. He loved to drink wine and as he lay in his comfortable hospital bed, I asked him how he felt about the wedding. “It was the best!” he replied. “Seems everyone truly enjoyed especially the bride and groom. Their romance is ripe. I feel so blessed. I have nothing to worry about. All is well.” He closed his eyes and smiled, at age 93, the smile of one so content with a full and wonderful life surrounded by his family and the kind of love that matters to him most. “I cannot ask for anything more,” he said with a grateful heart, as I gave him a kiss on the forehead and a warm affectionate hug. 

Best wishes to the endearing newlyweds, Heather and David! *

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