Friday, April 1, 2011

The Cradle Is Empty

A song came on the radio in the pre-dawn hours of my commute to the office on Tuesday morning and hearing it caused me to smile.  I was considerably younger than I am now (and less gray might I add) when I first heard it.  As a child I enjoyed it for its melody and for the sing-along quality of its chorus.  I am forced to confess that as a child the significance - the gravitas if you will - of its verses was wholly wasted upon me.  I was a child.  I thought as a child thinks.  For anyone thinking that I still suffer from that affliction, I am also forced to confess that you speak the truth. Grayer, heavier and a bit taller now than I was then but no brighter I fear. 

Rob is twenty-five years old today.  I was not there at the beginning of his life's journey.  I have been present for quite a bit of stuff since however.  I look forward to bearing witness to what is yet to come.  Margaret and I spent a bit of our Sunday organizing the basement.  We have lived in our present home for slightly less than eleven years yet the basement contains artifacts spanning the entirety of the lifetime of both of the kids.  We could not help but smile as we unearthed some of Rob's "treasures" - possessions that a particular point in time were as important to him as the tools of his trade are presently.  A lot of what we unearthed in the basement is heading off to a final destination not yet known, whether via garage sale or the garbage.  Not the treasures.  Not yet.  The decision as to their fate rests not in the hands of the Missus or me for we are simply their present caretakers.  The decision as to their fate rests in the hands of my son for they belong to him now as they did when they first entered his life - irrespective of however many years ago that might have been.

The overriding fear that hangs like a spectre in the cracks and crevices of my day-to-day is me becoming my father.  Dad was a fine man in his own manner but was - as we all are - flawed as well.  My kids are fortunate in that they share none of my DNA.  Thus, to the extent that Dad's demons are genetic, in my unit they shall die with me.  For a man who has fretted at least a bit every day over who he hoped not to emulate as he grew older that too is something that brings a smile to my face. 

Sunday afternoon, a bit of time was spent shin-deep looking through a child's treasures.  Rob is twenty-five years old today.  He has not been a child for a long time.  In many ways, he transitioned from boyhood to manhood faster than the date of birth on his driver's license might otherwise suggest.  His life is lived these days 2/3 of a continent away from here - away from what I still consider at least to be his home.  We shall see him next week as work-related issues shall blow him west to east like a tailwind.....for a few days at least.  And then, again, he shall be off.  Living the life he loves and doing the work that brings him both satisfaction and joy. 

The spoon is silver still but the cradle has been empty for a long, long time.  A thought that I was reminded of courtesy of an old song on the radio...

....and one that I am proud to say did not in fact just occur to me.  It is a fact I have been aware of - and been damn proud of - for some time now.  Happy Birthday Rob.  Enjoy the day and all the days that come after it.

-AK

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