The Gift
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Below is the speech I had the pleasure of giving at my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding on June 9, 2023.

The name Matthew means “Gift of God”.  When our son Matt was young, Bill and I often wondered what to do with the energetic and enthusiastic gift we were given, but over the years his many gifts became apparent.  

Matt is a charming, thoughtful, sentimental and insightful person. At 8 or 9, he said, “Mom, I know why you had me–you had to learn how to be with boys again” and he was right!  I grew up with 4 sweet brothers and had to readjust after having two wonderful daughters. Matt gave me the gift of being with boys over the years, most recently with the Delts – his sweet and WILD fraternity brothers. Two of my best weekends in the last 3 years were spent at the beach with 7 Delts, resulting in our hashtag, #DebAndTheDelts.

The morning of Bill’s funeral, I gave my sentimental son a gift–his Dad’s wedding ring, which he’s worn every day since then…more about that in a moment.

In Dec 2020 – after a tough two years, Matt and I spent Christmas Eve with his sister’s family. Afterward, he said to me, “I want what my sisters have”. I shared the advice I’ve given each of my children – that it’s not enough to love someone, you need to CHERISH them, as Bill & I did, as Laura & Phil do, as Lindsay & Corey do.

In 2021, Matt gave us the gift of Kate, although it took awhile. We joke that their relationship is a Rom-Com – friends since freshman year at Indiana University, but never dated. Kate’s friends say they knew this would happen–Kate and Matt had always been in love, but didn’t know it. Once they reconnected, things moved fast.

My first thought when Matt showed me Kate’s picture was “That’s my daughter-in-law!” Matt says that on their first date, Kate reached over and touched Bill’s ring on Matt’s right hand and said, “Tell me about your Dad.” Today as they exchanged rings, sentimental Matt moved Bill’s ring to his left hand.

On Mother’s Day, 2021, I asked Matt how things were going with Kate, and he responded, “You know that “Cherish” thing Mom? It’s happened!” In late June, 2021, Matt, Kate and I were out to lunch just before they moved in together. While Matt was in the restroom, Kate leaned in and exuberantly said “I just love him so much”…which brings me to Kate’s name-Katherine means “Pure”. Those of us privileged to spend time with Kate know her purity of spirit – kind, loving, thoughtful, open, honest, and authentic. Our family members feel that we’ve known her forever, and often forget it’s only been 2 years.

True to form, Matt planned a meaningful proposal and engagement party with family & friends, swearing us to secrecy for many months. Kate had no idea our families were in cahoots: Matt invited his two sisters and both Mamas to go ring shopping and meet her Dad for lunch afterward. He arranged for long-distance friends to join us at the party, including Kate’s maid of honor who traveled from Europe. All woven around a Kenny Chesney concert!

At their engagement party, Matt reminded us that family and friends are everything, though some aren’t here to celebrate: Kate’s Grandpa Vince-the best fisherman in northern Minnesota, who gave the best hugs; her cousin Scott with the most infectious laugh and love of family; Matt’s beloved grandmothers-Sallie and Glorya, his playful Aunt Suey with whom he had some crazy adventures, and the toughest of all-his Dad. Even though Bill’s not here physically, our family feels his presence just when we need him: in dreams, when lights flicker, an unusual license plate, through songs-all seeming coincidences, but not really. Bill adored Matt and his exploits over the years, and we know he and our other loved ones are watching over and celebrating with us.  

People often remark on what an attractive couple Matt and Kate are. They are clearly beautiful on the outside, but more importantly-beautiful on the inside. They cherish each other and are so well suited– kind, loving, family-oriented, playful, adventurous, and considerate-a gift to each other and to all of us.

I’ve been asked to give a blessing, which is my great honor. Please join hands at your table.

Dear Heavenly Father.

Thank you for this celebration in this beautiful place. Bless this food we are about to enjoy together.

Bless our many friends who share in the joy of this day.

Bless our loving and growing family, made up of Hornells, Andresens, Yudys, Dicksons, Weavers, Arends, Bystroms, and our Mesirow family.

Most importantly, bless Matt and Kate as they embark on this new chapter of their full life together.


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  1. You have the gift……and share it wonderfully.

    • Thanks Tom! Interesting coincidence-the wedding was in Rockton IL, just south of Beloit-your college alma mater. I looked for your name on buildings, carved into benches or trees, but no luck! Hope all is well.

  2. God bless you and your family, Deb! So happy for you all!!

    • Thanks so much Leslie. Hope all is well with your gang.

  3. Deb,

    You are also a gift! No pressure….😏


  4. Deb –

    I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying!

    All the blessings to the happy – and lucky – couple.


    • Thanks Doug – they are indeed happy and lucky!

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