A father's Love

I still couldn't believe it. In one day I would marry my love. There were no more questions, this was it. Of course I was still a little nervous (normal for most brides without these extraordinary circumstances), but the whole summer had been building up to this point. I was ready. The house was a mess, nothing was in order, but I really didn't care. Today was a day for beach and meditation. A little more colour to hopefully make me a glowing bride, and meditation to calm my nerves and hear my inner voice tell me - everything is as it should be.

I was feeling good, a day spent by the sea (which always soothes my soul), then I got ready to meet my good friend Amelia in Split. I was so happy that I was going to have someone there for me. Though it still plagued a little on my mind that none of my family would be there, particularly my father. It was a sacrifice we knew would have to make, we didn't want to be apart so we were choosing to say yes to love and get married in 5 days - as beautiful a notion as this is, as I have said before, it was still heartbreaking knowing what I was giving up by making this decision. If I could have had one person beside me, it would have been my father - I grew up with him, and have his love and support to thank for the reason I have always followed my heart and carved my own path. I looked at flights, but in such short notice, flights from New Zealand to Croatia were flat out extortion, and unfortunately we really weren't financially prepared for this (I won't say how much or little we had in our accounts, but it wasn't pretty). So a lot of my meditating was focusing on being ok with this. Accepting that this is our love story, and while every girl dreams of the perfect wedding and having her father and family there, this just wouldn't be the case for me.

Off to Split I went to wait for Amelia. We met up, and I almost cried just seeing and hugging her. It was so nice, and such a release to see someone I know, especially someone who knew my love story (Amelia was with me when I lived in Italy and heard all about this Captain Mirko, though at the time I was trying to convince myself that there was nothing there, little did I know that a year and a half later we would not only be together but would be getting married!) We ordered some wine, proposed a toast for the upcoming day, and then got lost in conversation, laughter and near-tears, as we always tend to do.

Mirko was to arrive in Split at midnight off the ferry, as he had been away all week on tour, so he literally jumped off his boat, we would get married, then he would go away again in a few days (the life of a captain's wife!) Amelia and I headed over to a boat called Cicero, which Mirko used to work on, to wait for him. Two seconds before he arrived another girl I knew from tour leading happened to walk past, so I was talking to her and had just told her we were getting married when he walked up to me. I said a quick hello, kiss, introduced him to Amelia, then kept talking to my friend. He interrupted me and said we need to talk, I said fine, in a second. No we need to talk now. Me: getting a little frustrated fine, I'm just talking to my friend, we will talk soon. Him: No really, we have a problem. My heart sank, what kind of problem could we possibly have the night before we were to get married?? Ok, what kind of problem? I asked with all of the patience and control I could muster. Him: well, you just need to turn around. Me: extremely frustrated now - what on earth are you talking about, you are being really strange! Him: really, just turn around.

I turned around and saw the most unexpected thing... my father was standing there. It took me a second, I looked at him, I looked back at Mirko, burst into tears then through myself on him without a word! I just could not believe my father was standing before me on a boat in Croatia! This was just too much, tears streamed down, actually I am almost crying writing this now. Never in my wildest dreams, as a child growing up in a small town called Milton, New Zealand, would I ever have thought that:
  1. I would end up moving to Croatia (I had no idea where Croatia was until about 5 years ago...)
  2. That I would end up marrying a Croatian (I was adamant that I would marry a maori boy and live happily in NZ for the rest of my life)
  3. That my father would fly half way around, and be standing before me on a boat in Croatia the night before I was to get married.

I had entertained the thought at the start of the week that maybe, just maybe he would make it. However I soon let go of this thought once I saw how expensive the flights were, and knowing that my dad was in the peak season of his work, I concluded that it was basically impossible. Before you ask - my father was a shearer and now manages a shearing run. It is kind of a joke when foreigners ask me about NZ and sheep, and whether everyone works with sheep? Well, in this case yes, we are the stereotype, because pretty much all my family work in the shearing sheds - and I say this with pride. I am explaining this because my father does not work in an office, where he can just take leave as he likes. He manages up to 30 people, organizing work for them, communicating between the contractor, farmers and employees, and overseeing the staff housing. So getting off work was no small feat. Funnily enough though, what really made me realize that he wasn't coming was that he was messaging me on facebook all week, and while my dad does use facebook and skype, he is definitely not tech-savvy enough to be finding and using wifi in an airport to message me (I will find out later that it was actually his girlfriend who was responding to me through his account).

I was in absolute shock. No one had ever surprised me before, it is normally me that turns up and surprises everyone else. Not only that, but I normally have a very good intuition so surprising me is not easy. My heart almost exploded with love and joy. I looked around and nearly everyone there had a tear in their eye. Everyone except my cool, calm and collected father that is. I finally managed to get some words out and said to him, I can't believe you are here. His simple response: of course I am, you are my daughter. As if it were the most normal thing in the world, as if he hadn't just flown across half the globe to a foreign country to be by my side, as if it were never a question... in this simple response my father said everything. Once I calmed down a little more, I wanted to know the details. HOW?? I turned to Mirko, you knew, you organized this?? No. He had no idea either. So here's how his story went...

I told my father on Monday that we were going to get married on Saturday, Tuesday he booked flights, Wednesday he had organized work and moved all of his workers into other accommodation, Thursday he flew out, 3 stops later he arrived in Croatia on Friday night (with no luggage, it was somewhere in transit) He hadn't told anyone, all he had was an address for our apartment in our small town Dugi Rat. He jumped in a taxi with the address, the taxi driver somehow managed to navigate the narrow streets and get him to the right address. BUT our address is for an apartment block, there are no numbers here, just names on doors (which obviously my father didn't know). It was around 11pm, and there was my father knocking on doors trying to ask our neighbours (no one really speaks english here) where we live, people weren't too impressed being woken at this hour, and no one really understood. So when this didn't work he started holding up a piece of paper with our names on it, and finally someone recognized and pointed him in the right direction. He knocked on our apartment door, and was greeted by Mirko's sister Josipa (who was in her underwear at the time) who thankfully speaks english, it took her two seconds to work out who he was and then she jumped on him in excitement, undies and all (I love this image!) She explained that we weren't home because I was waiting for Mirko at the ferry. Dad, again in his ever cool nonchalant way, said no problem, I will just wait. But Josipa wasn't having this, she insisted on driving him to Split to meet us. Mirko was asleep on the ferry, and woke up to a million missed calls from his sister. He thought something bad must have happened, so he ignored the calls (this is his way). Finally he answered, and Josipa told him that he needed to meet her at a cafe, straight away! So my future husband was shitting himself, and very gingerly approached his sister's table, she had some guy sitting with her... light bulb. So this is how my soon-to-be husband, meets my father for the first time. They have a quick catch up and drink, then they all come and surprise me. Simple really. By simple, I of course mean the opposite. Such an incredible story, and now I can see where I get my courage and adventurous spirit from!

It was hands down the most beautiful moment of my life, the best gift, and something I will treasure until my last days. I have always known my father is an incredible man. His love and support over the years, and especially during my gypsy/wanderlust/dont know what I am doing with my life years, has been priceless. I have never for a second questioned his love, and have understood that while he can be a man of few words sometimes, he has always shown his love through actions. But this? This was above and beyond what I ever could have expected. With my father by my side, I knew that everything really  was as it should be. The last of my nerves melted away, and love rushed in to fill the spaces. A father's love.

this was captured minutes after the shock, my red face and puffy eyes should say it all.

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