Chuck, I know good health is one of the greatest things we can possess in this life. But eventually, we all break down, and I just feel that as important as good health is, there are things that matter even more, such as the legacy we leave or how we treat others in the time that we’re here. Do you agree? – “Higher Than Health” in College, Alaska
It’s been said that health is the greatest wealth, and it may be – at least most of the time. But then there are those precious souls who show an even better and more powerful way. Jim Zetz and Lindsey Villatoro are two of them.
Zetz, from Murrieta, Calif., is 62 years old and has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He unfortunately won’t live long enough to see his 11-year-old daughter, Josie, do a lot of things most fathers would want to see their daughter do – get her driver’s license, graduate from high school – or be there at her wedding to give her away to her prince charming.
To remedy the latter dilemma, Fox News reported this past week that “for Josie’s birthday, Zetz staged a wedding in their backyard with the help of friends and family, who came together to plan the event in just 72 hours.” But in this ceremony, Dad didn’t give his daughter away; rather, he gave her a ring to signify her commitment and faithfulness to her future husband.
Lindsey Villatoro, who recently photographed the Zetz family for a final portrait together, was the catalyst who helped coordinate the ceremony. She explained: “I have an 11-year-old daughter and knew Josie’s birthday was coming up. I also knew it would be the last birthday with her dad. If I was Josie, this would be the best gift anyone could give.”
The Press-Enterprise reported that Villatoro transformed the Zetzes’ backyard into a beautiful wedding setting with the help of friends, business partners and many others in their community. People donated a cake, a dress, flowers, catering, beautiful table arrangements and even hairstylists and makeup artists for Josie and her mom, Grace.
Villatoro wrote under a video slideshow she made after the event: “One day (you) wake up and realize you’re given the opportunity to change (someone’s) life for the better. You get an idea, don’t think twice and (run) with it.”
Music played as dad and daughter clung to each other and walked slowly down the aisle. Dad was dressed in a camel-colored three-piece suit, topped with a dapper flat cap, and Josie wore a long, lacy white dress and held a pink and white bouquet in her hands.
As dad and daughter walked arm in arm down the aisle with tears welled in their eyes – not to mention the tears rolling down the faces of many guests – the Rev.Gary Galbraith, the pastor who officiated the ceremony, stared at Josie and explained: “Your dad may not get to see you get married, but he is here to walk you down the aisle today. The daddy and daughter relationship is one of the most special relationships in life.”
As the late-in-life dad placed the ring on Josie’s finger, Galbraith pronounced them “daddy and daughter.” (For some great photos from the celebration, check out the article in London’s Daily Mail.)
Longtime neighbor Jennifer Stout was quoted as saying: “It was a beautiful ceremony. It’s sad to think of someone so young losing her dad, but at least she will have a memory of this event.”
Villatoro wrote that it was “an honor” to help put together the “mini wedding,” saying, “Josie, you will forever have a video of you and your dad walking you down the aisle to play at your wedding in years to come, as if he was physically there.”
Zetz himself was overjoyed and a bit overwhelmed with it all, especially in helping to create this loving moment and memory for his daughter, whom he loves more than his own life. He explained: “Down the road this will mean a lot to her. She will always remember it.”
Charles Morgan, an English-born playwright and novelist, once said: “There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is God’s finger on man’s shoulder.”
How true that is.
Zetz’s love for his daughter reminds me of the power of love during this Easter season, as Jesus himself said, “No greater love exists than to lay down one’s life for another.” It’s no surprise that it is also written, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
If Karen Goldman, the author of “The Angel Book,” was right when she wrote that “love is how you earn your wings,” then Zetz has certainly earned his pair.
Health may be the greatest wealth, but in the end, love trumps and triumphs over all.
Write to Chuck Norris with your questions about health and fitness. Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s “Official Chuck Norris Page.” He blogs at ChuckNorrisNews.blogspot.com.