Please indulge me.

This father heart is so bursting with pride, love and gratitude, I just have to let it out. I admit that I’m a novice when it comes to walking one’s daughter down the aisle to her enraptured groom, and last weekend’s events in Rotterdam unleashed so many memories – all with pride.

Melissa was thirteen when she arrived with us in the UK from South Africa to join the English school system. Nearly the entire school curriculum was different from the South African one. However, the quiet girl immediately made an impression. I remember how proud I was when she qualified to enroll for Architecture. And, afterwards, the worry when she had to walk back to her student accommodation in the cold early hours of the morning, exhausted from waiting tables in a pub. The extra income helped  paying for her studies. Never one to shy away from work, she even cleaned classrooms and bathrooms at a high school after hours to supplement her student loan.

Her master’s studies took her to Oxford where the appreciation of her proud parents at the graduation ceremony was immeasurable.

Before continuing with her compulsory studies towards the postgraduate certificate of the Royal Institute of British Architects at the University of Westminster, she took some time off  to see the world – as an air hostess at Emirates.

Today she is a successful architect at a renowned firm in Rotterdam. And married to an equally remarkable man. Together they have renovated their newly-acquired house in Rotterdam where Melissa took out the old floorboards and installed new ones – with the same tiny hands that carried heavy stones during a student reach out project in war-torn Palestine.

I remember the immense sense of love that overwhelmed me the first time I wrapped my hand around those tiny hands,. That love will last forever.

Melissa, your dad is so proud of you!