As the three men I played a small part in raising, there are some things I have not (or at the very least may not have) said to you, but need to make very certain you know. I felt it appropriate to deliver these words to you as the year comes to a close to say, at least in my humble opinion, that if you want 2015 to be a good year, just keep doing what you’ve been doing!
You are incredibly engaged in the raising of three wonderful young men of your own. Your time investment in their lives, everything from diaper changing as babies to bedtime stories to baseball coaching, admittedly exceeds my own fathering capacity by a fair margin. I am consistently impressed by your commitment to their nurturing and am deeply touched by it. Those boys could not be in better hands, and that is oh-so comforting to both your mother and me.
Employment-wise your mom and I were scared, REAAAAL scared, early on. You went through jobs faster than Hunahpu went through rice. But, alas, as parents often do, we worried needlessly. You were swapping jobs every week because they were very wrong for you. And, when you found the RIGHT place, you dedicated yourself COMPLETELY and worked your way from the mail room to a solid, growing, successful career. I mean, that is the cliché Hollywood American-dream plot, right?! That’s just good stuff. What a great example for your sons.
When I think back on the multiplication table struggles your mom and I had with you, I get a migraine. School was hard for you, and that was hard for us. We wanted you to be able to grow up, earn a living to take care of yourself, and raise a family. To do all this well depended on getting good grades…or so we thought. We were idiots (or at least I know I was). You found a way to graduate high school with your class and never got held back. I know that was not easy. The structured learning environment of our school system was not a good fit for you. Not at all. And that wasn’t your fault. But you beat it. It’s like finishing Watkins Glen on the lead lap with a car set up for Daytona. That is really soooo very impressive. And regardless of math grades (not a good measure of anything, really), you are one smart guy! I truly love discussing any topic under the sun with you and you never fail to be enlightening and thought-provoking no matter what the subject.
Most impressive, though, and what people will always think about when they think about you, is your heart and personality. Those same teachers that struggled with your academics and your sometimes over-chatfulness in class truly LOVED you. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or corner store clerks, everyone sees that caring and entertaining soul that is only you. And we all know we can count on you when we are in need. Always. You have the most wonderful soul. I envy that so much. May you never, ever change.
And I guess I should mention that you can maneuver a big-rig better than I can my Mini Cooper. But never forget that it was “I” who caught a bass on a cane pole…with bread…from the shore…
The things that readily come to mind when I think about you read like resume bullets. That is very misleading, though.
When I met your mom, I was just a couple years older than you are now (note: I had ZERO parenting experience) and you were about to turn three. You were a remarkably cute little fella, but with the soul of a bull (your wife might say that not much has changed in that respect) and you were intensely protective of your mother. We did not exactly hit it off well. But, over time, we grew on each other, and soon I began to feel this “dad” thing gripping me from inside and you were my precious little boy. Well, my precious “3 going on 30” little boy. You became my world and I understood for the first time why a parent would lay down their life without pause to preserve that of a child. I grew to love you all enormously, but it was my bond with you that gave root to the planted seed.
It’s like those bullet points I listed above were kind of my own aspirations. But when I compare my own measures for each item to yours I find myself coming up a little short. I wanted a mini-me and I think I ended up being a mini-you. You have done well and impress me on a regular basis. But as much as I have immense respect for your rock-solid and ever advancing core self, know I love you even more than I respect you.
Anyhow, in spite of my infamous tighty-whitey tirade, my sarcastic questioning of everyone’s readiness for a tram ride, and my certain failures on more than one occasion to address crises that arose in what would be best-practice, Dr. Phil-approved parenting responses, all three of you have turned out to be pretty outstanding men. I know you are each respectful to the people you meet, have wonderful, individual characteristics that make you special, and will be fabulous examples to the generation that follows you. What more could a person want? I cannot take credit for who you have become (that credit goes entirely to you guys), but am thankful I did not mess up enough to send any of you off spiraling permanently in a bad direction.
For that much I will consider your wonderful selves to be part of my legacy. And the only real wisdom I have to share is: life is about legacy. We are all here for a very short time and all that really endures here beyond our life is our legacy. If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, please know that I left the world with the feeling of a life fulfilled thanks to you guys. My wish for you is your sense of your own good legacy be as strong.
Sorry for such a long-winded way of saying: “I am proud of you.”
Have a fantastic 2015!