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A Walk Down the Aisle

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By Senator John Thune

August marks a season of change and an important milestone in the life of our family. This month our youngest daughter Larissa will marry Scott Hargens in Sioux Falls. I always knew this day would come; it just seems to have come sooner than I expected. It's not them, it's me. They're of age, Larissa is 23 and Scott is 27, and they've been engaged for almost a year so I know they are ready. It's just that when it's your little girl walking down the aisle, I'm not sure that as a dad you're ever really ready. In fact, I'd be willing to bet few dads can say it's not a little bittersweet.

You see, I was there in the delivery room when my wife Kimberley gave birth to Larissa in January of 1990. And ever since that little blond-haired, blue-eyed baby entered the world, she's been my little girl.

I was the guy there for the hoops games and soccer matches, for the track meets and piano recitals, for the joy of victory and the pain of disappointment. I helped her learn how to swim, how to ride a bike, and how to shoot straight. I listened to her memorize Bible verses and say her bedtime prayers. I saw her love for all things living, including frogs and snakes, and I laughed at her quick wit.

She, of course, helped carry me through seven campaigns, sat patiently through countless Lincoln Day dinners, picnics, fairs, and bus rides, not to mention appearing in numerous campaign ads despite her eternal shyness. And I know how hard it was on her when my job required me to miss some of her special moments. But for 23-plus years, through thick and thin, she's been my little L.T.

This August, she officially becomes Scott's girl. And despite the customary fatherly apprehension, I'm okay with that. Scott is a solid young man from good stock, he'll take good care of her, and she'll be a good wife. After all, she learned from her mom. There will be hard times ahead, it's part of life, but they're built on a strong foundation.

As for me, I don't think I would have it any other way. It's the normal order of things, God's plan for our lives. Still, as I share that final dance with my daughter, before I hand her off to her new husband, I will think about how blessed my life has been because of her and how grateful I am that even as she begins her new life, she will always be my little L.T.


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