Nothing can compare to the love between a daughter and father.
It’s like the quote from Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years:
From the moment a father first lays eyes on his daughter… she’s forever daddy’s little girl. And he’s forever her hero. A giver of gifts. A granter of wishes. A knight in shining armor. And in return… she gives to him that love and respect which is special between dads and their girls.
…children leave… and parents stay behind. Still, some things are deeper than time and distance. And your father will always be your father. And he will always leave a light on for you.
62-year-old, Jim Zetz, who has stage 4 terminal pancreatic cancer knows he doesn’t have much longer and won’t get the chance to see his 11-year-old daughter, Josie, tie the knot one day.
But thanks to a photographer with a vision, this terminally ill father got to walk his daughter down the aisle.
In a backyard wedding ceremony realized by photographer Lindsey Natzic Villatoro and her friends, Josie clutched her father’s arm and walked toward a ceremony she will certainly never forget.
Villatoro had photographed Jim, Josie and Josie’s mother, Grace, for one of their final family portraits together, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, which first reported the story. Then Villatoro had an idea for Josie’s birthday, and she contacted many others who helped her create her vision.
“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,” Villatoro wrote in a description of a video slideshow she made from the event.
Grace, not knowing the scale of Villatoro’s plans, agreed to create a “mini-wedding” for Josie. “She mentioned (Josie) was so emotional about her dad not being there for memories down the line, so I figured we would make some now,” Villatoro wrote.
With the help of Villatoro’s friends, Josie had her makeup and hair done. She wore a long, lacy white dress and carried a pink-and-white bouquet.
Then, biting her lip and holding her suited father’s hand, Josie walked down the “aisle” in the family backyard.
“Your dad may not get to see you get married, but he is here to walk you down the aisle today,” said Gary Galbraith, the pastor, according to the newspaper. He put a ring on her pointer finger, the video shows, and then Galbraith pronounced them “daddy and daughter.”
They walked out to share a quiet, tearful moment, before returning to a “reception” with family and friends. In one of Villatoro’s photographs of the father and daughter sitting together, a lone tear drops down Jim’s cheek.
“Down the road, this will mean a lot to her,” Jim Zetz said, according to the Press-Enterprise. “She will always remember it.”
Villatoro wrote that it was an “an honor” to surprise the Zetzes. “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,” she wrote.
Check out the video slideshow of their big day.