Wedding day was physical, emotional chore for dad – Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


Brad Heald was still weed eating 45 minutes before his daughter’s wedding. He wanted everything to be perfect for his only daughter, Coral. To the wedding guests, everything was perfect. There was a beautiful display of golden mums, 105 of them to be exact, spilling out of the raised bed of a 1948 Chevy dump truck, like the train on the bride’s gown. Brad, who is really an artist in disguise, had hand made the wooden tables for the entire wedding party to sit at, and built the bench that would hold the wedding cake. It sat proudly on two whiskey barrels. He and his wife, Dawn, had strung thousands of lights outside Heald’s Trucking shop, that lit up the valley so the wedding celebration could continue into the night. Groomsmen and guests couldn’t believe that the building for the wedding reception was a trucking company. Almost out of sight, at the far edge of the 17.5-acre lot, was a berm and a wall of pallets. Behind the pallet wall, Brad had hidden all the miscellaneous odds-and-ends that a trucking company accumulates. Guests commented that the pallets looked like they belonged there, knitting the scene together.
OpinionMotorists on Highway 34, east of New London, pulled to the side of the road to gawk and take pictures of the golden mums and dump truck. It had been Brad’s father’s truck, and Brad had made many a trip to the quarry with his father in that truck. It would now be the centerpiece flower holder for his daughter’s wedding. Years ago, Brad saw a picture of a truck with flowers spilling out of the back end, and wanted to duplicate it. In his words, “I have big dreams, man, big dreams.” He tried to use blanket flowers, but couldn’t get the quantity necessary. He settled for golden mums, and hired a person to arrange and plant them. So stunning is the display, that on a Saturday, the trucking company parking lot becomes congested with people wanting to take pictures and hear the story of the old dump truck with mums—now called “The Mump Truck.”
But there was still one more surprise for the wedding. Truck drivers have a lot of spare time to think while on the road. During long, lonely stretches, Brad had composed a wedding song for his daughter and recorded the verses on his phone through his headset. When it was time for the father/daughter dance, Brad had switched the song his daughter had selected, “Stealing Cinderella,” and replaced it with the song he had written and recorded. Brad’s brother and niece composed the music for, “Leaving Me.” The music drifted out through the speakers as the wedding guests watched father and daughter dance. “From the first time that I held you, to the day I give you away, I could tell you were so very special, unique in so many ways. If I said raising you was easy, you know that would be a lie, cause even when you needed punishment, it was so hard to watch you cry. But that’s being a dad, some days it ain’t easy, hop’n you won’t stay mad, when it comes time to leave me. From a cry’n baby, to a savvy young lady, it’s been fun to watch you mature, tak’n you fish’n, on all those vacations, are memories I’ll cherish for sure. That’s being a dad, some days it ain’t easy, I hope it’s the good times we had, that you recall when you leave me. So today I give you this party, today I give you away, so today I give you this dance, where I have this chance to say. I like being your dad, although today it’s not easy, with the bond that we have, I know you’ll never really leave me.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the building. The mums, as their name implies, lay quietly, their beauty covering the earth with love and happiness. Good job, Brad.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at, or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

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