Stella’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Anna Perkins, didn’t want her disabled father to attend her wedding because everyone would see his hand. She didn’t defend him at first, but then, Mrs. Perkins went too far.
“I’m so sorry, Dad. But I don’t think you can attend the wedding. My mother-in-law is so insistent, and Roger agrees with her,” Stella told her father on the phone.
“That’s ok, sweetheart. I want you to be happy and have the best day ever. I won’t attend,” her father, Bob, replied. He only wanted the best for his daughter after raising her as a single dad, but this was a low blow.
Stella met her fiancé, Roger, about a year earlier, and their wedding was coming up soon. Bob had been looking forward to walking Stella down the aisle, but he never imagined that Roger’s family would hate him so much.
Bob did two tours in the Middle East before retiring from the military, and he lost his hand after an IED detonated. His hand was severely hurt, and his friend rushed him to get medical attention.
Eventually, they managed to bandage Bob’s hand, but he never regained its full mobility, and the scars were painful reminders of that traumatic situation. Over the years, he had managed to almost forget about it, though. When his final tour ended, he went to college and met the love of his life.
Lisa was a ray of sunshine and one of the only people who didn’t make him feel like he was utterly disabled or ugly. They had a whirlwind romance and got married quickly. Lisa got pregnant earlier than they expected. But they were both ecstatic.
However, her pregnancy was difficult, and the doctors discovered that she suffered from Placenta Accreta way too late. Lisa did not survive the emergency C-section, but their daughter Stella miraculously did.
Bob knew that he would never love anyone like he loved Lisa, and he dedicated his entire life to Stella. He worried that she would be afraid of him because of his injured hand, but Stella was just as compassionate as her late mother. She was bright and proud that her father served their country as a hero.
Sadly, other people were not as compassionate and judged him. Some of his fellow parents at Stella’s school pulled their kids away when he approached. But Stella was completely comfortable with her dad and defended him.
That’s why this phone call came as a huge surprise to him. She had never let anyone walk all over her until she met Roger. Roger was pretty harmless, but his family was pushy. They were extremely wealthy and set in their conservative views.
At first, they were delighted to meet a veteran like Bob, but when Mrs. Perkins saw his hand, she cooled immediately.
“Mom, this is Sergeant Bob Matthews, Stella’s father,” Roger introduced them. Bob extended his good hand to Mrs. Perkins, but she didn’t extend hers.
“Oh, well. Yes, nice to meet you,” she said, trying to seem polite but not managing. “What happened to your hand?”
“Mom! I told you that Mr. Matthews was injured on tour,” Roger said, embarrassed that his mother would be too blunt about it.
“As your son said, Mrs. Perkins, I got injured on tour,” Bob explained. Roger’s mother nodded and focused on dinner.
Stella pulled her father aside and said, “I’m sorry, Dad. I don’t know what’s going on with her. She’s normally super polite to guests.”
“Don’t worry about it, darling,” he told her.
Mr. Perkins was much friendlier and offered him a beer. The rest of their first meeting went decently. But as Stella and Roger’s wedding approached, his mother had more demands.
Mrs. Perkins wanted Stella to use her old wedding dress, but she refused. She wanted more control of the wedding, and they allowed it to keep the peace. But now, Mrs. Perkins had told them to exclude her father because many influential people were coming.
“I don’t know what to do, Dad. She’s driving me crazy,” Stella continued on the phone.
“Honey, what does Roger say? Is he allowing his mother to walk all over your decisions? If so, that won’t change once you get married,” Bob said cautiously.
“Roger doesn’t want to upset his mother. He never goes against her. I finally got her to accept that I want to choose my wedding dress, but she is coming with us shopping later,” Stella explained.
“Well, that’s something you two have to talk about before the wedding,” Bob advised.
“I will. Thank you, Dad. I’m going to talk to her about this crazy idea. I need you at my wedding. You’re my father, for God’s sake!” Stella finished with conviction. That’s my daughter, Bob thought.
Stella, her bridesmaids, and Mrs. Perkins went to the dress shop. She started picking all the dresses she liked and even tried on some of Mrs. Perkins’ choices to please her.
“Mrs. Perkins?” Stella started.
“Dear, you can call me Anna or Mom. We’re going to be family soon,” Mrs. Perkins said sweetly.
“Ok, Anna. Speaking of family. I can’t just exclude my father from my wedding. He has to walk me down the aisle,” Stella explained.
“I thought we had already decided this. Many important people are coming to the wedding, and your father…well… he doesn’t look the best in pictures,” Mrs. Perkins said. “Also, you won’t be seeing him much after you get married anyway, and my grandchildren definitely won’t.”
“Excuse me?” Stella asked, shocked.
“I’m not going to let my grandchildren around that monster. No, thank you. You should listen to me. I know what’s best for my Roger,” Mrs. Perkins finished. Stella had enough. She went back to her dressing room and called Roger.
“Honey, my mother can be pushy and likes to get her way, but she means well,” Roger cajoled.
“She went too far, Roger! Your mother called my father a monster, and you’re not going to do anything?” Stella asked angrily.
“What do you want me to do?” Roger said, dumbfounded.
“You know what I want? I want you to find another woman because I’m done with you, your lack of a spine, and your horrible mother. GOODBYE!” Stella screamed and hung up. She changed back into her clothes and exited the dressing room.
“The wedding is off. I don’t want to be related to such a horrible woman!” she yelled at Mrs. Perkins. The older woman gasped while Stella’s bridesmaids smiled. They knew her friend had done the right thing.
She went home and told her father everything that happened. “Are you sure that’s what you want, baby? You love Roger,” Bob asked, worried that he had ruined her relationship.
“If he can’t stand up to his mother, then he is not the man I thought he was,” Stella said while hugging her father. But Roger came to their house that night and apologized for everything. He promised that everything would be different.
Stella wasn’t sure if he could keep that promise, but Roger did. They uninvited Mrs. Perkins and most of the people she had added to the wedding list. Roger and Stella decided that a small ceremony was much better for them.
In the end, Stella’s father walked her down the aisle and was the best grandfather to her kids. Mrs. Perkins tried to get back into their good graces, but Roger himself wouldn’t allow it. Stella couldn’t have been prouder of her husband.
What can we learn from this story?
- Ableism is never acceptable. Mrs. Perkins wanted to exclude Bob from everything because of his disability, but karma taught her a huge lesson.
- You have to grow a spine. Some people can’t stand up to their parents, even when they are wrong. But Roger had to or risk losing Stella forever.
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