A Father’s Special Day

Isabella and Bryan Arroyo Wedding May 2023

Walking her down the isle, meant taking a leap as a father.

It’s hard to describe the anticipation and flood of emotions that came over me that day. In many ways I was excited to be walking my first-born daughter down the isle to take the hand of her, soon to-be-husband. A person that I had gotten to know over the course of the better part of a year. Someone who I was, deep down in my heart, proud to be calling my son-in-law and a part of our family.

Flashback to 2020

Rewind 2 years back, a week before her 18th birthday, Isabella and I were spending some quality father/daughter time on her first deer hunting trip on public land in the WMA section of Rebecca Mountain. It was January, cold and perfect weather right in the middle of the deer rut. The terrain on the mountain was steep and slow going stalking and still hunting. I was thankful to have 2 full days in the woods with Isabella. The fact that she was game for the whole experience, really had me hopeful that we would have some success.

I had to hand it to her, she was a trooper, having survived the first day of stalking up and down the mountain, pushing several bucks around, but no shot opportunity availed itself. Later that night heading back to our hotel in town, she popped a peculiar question for me. “Dad, can I ask you something?” “Sure, I replied,” relishing and welcoming the thought of dispensing some of my fatherly advise. “Would you agree to meet this guy I met online?”

“Guy you met online, I replied. “Tell me about this guy you met online.” “Well,” she said, “he’s really nice, a Marine, a Traditional Catholic, and he likes to fish and wants to learn how to hunt – you’d really like him.” “Hmm”, I thought. “How old is he?” “He’s 25.” “25!, I exclaimed.”

What was Going on Inside my Head

My first thoughts being a father and a guy, was, “Man, that’s robbing the cradle!” Sounds like he did his homework and pulled off the perfect scam. I had too many red flags going off in my head and tried to relay them as logically as I could to my daughter. 

My answer, in and amongst gobs of sound reasoning, was a resounding, “No.” No way I’d meet this guy. What was the point? How could a meeting over the internet lead to any kind of meaningful relationship? It was bound to end in heartbreak.

Needless to say, she was sorely disappointed with my answer and general response. I really thought I gave a good argument and didn’t expect much to come of the inquisition. Of course, if you didn’t know my daughter, she didn’t take my “No” lightly. And if you know anything about the opposite sex, they always look for your weak spots when they want something. Little did I know, I was being way-laid in the most grandiose of ways.

Fast-Forward 2 Years

Well, the question she had posed to me back on that memorable hunting trip, never went away. Instead, it seemed to have reach a fevered pitch as time ticked on. It seemed that instead of my warnings to nip this obvious infatuation in the bud, she had actually gotten serious with this guy. To the point that I basically caved in and decided that she could allow him to come to our home so that I could finally meet him. Apparently, my wife was secretly in on the whole thing, and Isabella had her support. I was trapped. What could I do but relinquish my position. 

To my surprise, he wasn’t all that bad of a person at all. In fact, Bryan was quite polite and respectful, I thought to myself. I guess I could say that I took to liking him that very day. Yes, he was interested in fishing and hunting – all of my passionate interests since I was a kid – what a shoe-in. But most importantly, he genuinely seemed to care deeply for Isabella. And of course, Isabella seemed madly wild about Bryan.

A Slow Build

My first impressions of Bryan weren’t all that bad. Despite my healthy dose of skepticism, my family, especially my wife, took a liking to him right away.  I figured, no big deal, they would break up at some point since their relationship was mostly long distance, made up mostly of phone calls and Facetime. Little did I know that Isabella had been secretly sneaking off to meet him every few weeks over the last years or so. ~ Where there is a will, there is a way.

But as time went on, Bryan and I seemed to be making plans every month or so for the next and the next hunting or fishing excursion. It didn’t take long for me to realize that he was as passionate about the outdoors as I was. I guess if someone is interested in your daughter, they may as well do some kissing up to the father. I still had my doubts that this was just an infatuation between the two of them and that the interests in the outdoor endeavors would soon wane.


And then Things got Serious




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