I saw him when he was born. I watched and began to wonder…even back then. I thought about what I had seen. I went to the Delivery Room window, looked out over the parking lot… and wept.
Taken in the long view of human life, I had just witnessed something most men have been kept from seeing…an actual birth. But, there he was, wet and gooey. When he could focus, it was on his mom’s face…her eyes…her expressions. Soon he discovered there was another person in his field of view, his father.
He would look at me, straight into my eyes.
Then as he got older his view still was on his mother and me, but he was seeing other things, other people come and go into his field of vision.
I had already raised a daughter, Erin, and I was fully aware of the passage of time. As an old song goes: “Turn around, and she one…turn around and she’s two…turn around and she a young woman going out of the door…”
I was determined to have these early memories of him cling to me like pollen in May, like sap on a pine. I wanted to have it all just slow down or stop or encase it like an insect in Miocene amber.
But there are rules of nature you cannot alter: The flow of time is Rule #1. Nothing to be done here…just enjoy the moment as it is. You can’t stop the flow of a river by pushing your hands against the current. You can’t stop the rain by pushing back at the raindrops.
Soon the moments became months and then the years began to add up. Rites of passage occurred…he turned eighteen and began driving. He turned twenty-one without major mishaps. (That I know of).
He wasn’t running to his daddy with a broken tail reflector from his bike anymore. He was discussing fine wines with his girlfriend, Kristin.
His view points were changing, not about politics but about how he chose to spend time and places he travelled. I found out he was in Jacksonville, Florida about a year ago when I first saw a photo of him dancing on a table at the local Hooters!
“Dad, can I go to Hooter’s and dance on the table?” never once left his lips.
So, a young man slowly turns from the comfortable and familiar and begins to find his way in the strange and unknown world. I would have not have it any other way. This is life. This is growth. This is maturity. This is growing up.
He joins Mariam and I for a brief trip to Ireland. It’s his first European stamp on his passport. We’re driving the Burren, a place of desolate and austere limestone landscapes in the west country. We pause to take some pictures. He wanders toward the cliff edge.
I snap a photo of him gazing out over Galway Bay. I don’t know what he’s thinking about.
But he’s looking away from me and into a future that belongs only to him.
I would have it no other way. I hope as he grows older, he stands by uncountable cliffs over unnamed bays and thinks of life from the viewpoint of his own eyes and ears and imagination.