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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Luke and Pip's wedding

This is the text of a speech I gave earlier this year at Luke and Pip's wedding. I'm putting here for posterity I guess, and in the belief that no one is reading this but me! So that what this blog is, in the end, is more a diary of things that have moved me, than any attempt at exposure or feedback.

So with those disclosures in place: here it is.


When I was thinking about Luke and Pip, and what to say to you all here tonight about them, the idea that kept coming to mind was 'fate'.

This was a relationship that, it seems to me, was meant to be.

When I first met Luke - there was a certain amount of fate involved. Hugh andI first met Luke at a party back towards the end of school. Hugh and I happened to have turned up with a case of beers. Luke didn't. And so, we became friends. I wish I could say there was more to it than that. I wish I could say we connected on some deep level. No. It was the beers. And on such deliciously carbonated twists of fate are life long friendships made. Not just friendships as it turns out, but marriages. Because it was of course through Hugh that Luke went on to meet Pip.

Growing up, Luke and Andrew and I spent a lot of time at the Robilliard house in Haberfield. It was the stage for a lot of our adventures. We used to joke, that we were there so much we were basically part of the family.  I mean, I say 'joke'. But it's a joke that Luke has taken way too seriously. 

And then there was the competition to see which of us Helen liked the best: 

When Pip and Luke started going out, I thought, 'Well played sir. I see what you're doing. Smart move.' 
When Luke started getting invited to Robilliard family events I thought, 'OK. Not ideal for me.'
Even when Luke told me that Pip was to be pregnant with their first born child, there was part of me that thought, 'You're still in this James. Play the long game mate'.

Well guys, after today I think I'm willing to concede. Luke - you've only gone and become Helen's son-in-law! You win!

As teenager's hanging out at Stanton Rd, there was something that shone brightly about Pip and Luke when they were together. 

Pip was shy. But Luke is annoyingly charismatic. So much so, I'm pretty sure my Mum loves him more than she does me. 'It's the way that he talks to me on the phone James! "Hello Mrs Pender," he says, "And how are you?" You can tell that he was school captain.'

So obviously Pip was never going to be able to resist Luke - the laconic inner west heavy metal drummer with the school captain manners and the twinkle in his eye. As comfortable talking to the top brass of the Defence Force as he is to a 65 year old house wife with a subtle distrust of young people. 

I've watched these guys do some hard yards. From Sydney to Canberra. And Canberra to Sydney. And back again. And again. But they've made it work. When Luke was deployed to Afghanistan - there was a party at the Robilliard house in Haberfield (and I was invited - don't go on about it!). To ensure that Luke would appear in the photos taken that night, Pip provided people with a cut out of Luke's face to pose with. It was a small, some might say, silly gesture. But I remember thinking how great that was. They were always together. Sometimes, it's the little things.

Pip - since Luke has been with you. I have noticed a definite change in him. You give him a sense of direction, there's a calmness about Luke when he's with you. And inner strength. In you he's found not only a person to be with, he's found a self to be. And that is a precious gift. 

One of my favourite writers has a quote about love and it goes like this: "Love is more than a warmth to bask in. It is a grave and fierce yearning. A reaching out. A losing and finding of the self in the paradise of another. 

Luke and Pip - I've watched you yearn for each other. I've watched you reach out. And I look forward to being there as you continue to lose and find your selves in each others' paradise. 

Luke - I love you very much. And I thank God you didn't bring any beers to that party.

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