Thursday, April 1, 2010

Father to Son

The best thing about Rob is that he is his mother's son. The genetic goo that she contributed to the manufacturing process of first Suzanne and thereafter Rob is truly outstanding stuff. The second best thing about Rob is that while he is my son - I have never thought of either Suz or Rob as anything but my kids, biology notwithstanding - he has exactly none of my genetic goo.

Nothing makes me happier as I saunter on towards middle age than knowing that two extraordinary young folks who I parented and helped raise (OK, I drove the car, covered the checks and made the occasional municipal court appearance while Margaret did most of the heavy lifting solo) have been assisted by my person without being foiled by my DNA. My two brothers are considerably braver than I am - both having brought a son into this world. Judging by the caliber of young man each of my nephews has grown up to be, their gambles proved to be worth taking. Still, a moment has not passed during which I have regretted my decision not to dip a toe into that particular pool. And if I live to be three or four times as old as I currently am, it shall not.

Today, two time zones away (a reference point I love because it makes him seem closer than when one measures the distance in mileage. "Hey check it out, Rob is just on the other side of the Central Time Zone!" sounds much closer than, "He is 1800 miles away.") Rob turns twenty-four. I am reminded every time I see him how much older he is than he is - if you know what I mean. In a lot of very good ways, he is older than his years. And yet he is still very much a kid - as the look on his face revealed him to be at dinner on Sunday while Margaret regaled him with a yarn she knitted out of whole cloth regarding a non-existent feature on his cell phone. For in that moment - and not a moment longer than that - he was not a cool, composed professional. He was a little boy who fell for one of his mother's practical jokes.

He has done many outstanding things in his life to this point and he has much more to do. As he continues to grow and to grow older I hope that he finds value in some of what I tried to impart to him when he was a boy. If we are grading on an enormous curve, then I suppose we could call it "wisdom". Just to be safe, let us not awaken anyone at the Estate of Einstein for a ruling on whether it fits within the definitional parameters of "wisdom"- even if we are speaking of it only in relative terms.

As a father of a son I wish for two things for Rob. I hope that he succeeds in life. Financial security is important of course. Only in a work of fiction is living in poverty and having too little to eat and too few dollars chasing too many obligations "cool". Out here in the real world - away from the back lot - it is simply stressful. Yet financial security has never been and hopefully shall never be the sole determining factor of one's success. My definition of success? Happiness or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Whatever it is that brings him the happiness that I wish for him to pursue breathlessly until he has no breath left to breathe, I hope he finds it. Life is a tough road to hoe. It must be hoed. It is far easier to do it when you are happy than it is when you are something else altogether. I suspect that he will ultimately learn that it is too tough a road to walk alone as well. When he does, I hope that the same ephemeral, intangible force that guided me to his mother appears to offer him guidance as well. A simple wish from father to son.

The other thing for which I wish - as a father for my son - is that he is not forced to succeed in spite of me. Whether I have ever taught him anything of actual value throughout the years I know not. I suspect that I shall never know. What I wish for - quite simply - is that I have been - and that I never prove to be - an impediment to his achieving his own success.

Sing if you will
But the air you breathe
I live to give you
Father to son father to son
Father to son father to son
Joyful the sound
Word goes around
Father to son to son
Kings will be crowned
Word goes around
Father to son to son.

May long live the King. And may today he have a Happy Birthday.


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