Monday, January 17, 2011

My Buddy, For Always

A few months back, I had been cleaning out my overflowing desk folders when I happened upon one filled with lots of letters and pictures and cards from my kids. Some older, some more recent. All of them precious.

Of course, despite the folder's bulge and disarray, not a single thing would be discarded. I wouldn't even think of it. And in a Clark Griswold moment (when he was sitting alone in his house attic watching old family videos) , I leaned back in my office chair and began to rummage through the collection, slowly being taken back to moment after memorable moment of my children's childhoods thus far. Deep sighs, silent smiles, and bittersweet emotions rushed me.

Yes, time certainly does fly by. Darn it all. If only a rewind button or a pause button had been invented to control the pacing of our lives, I'm certain that we would all be pushing it frequently. Shamelessly. Without abandon. Heck, I could almost guarantee my finger would be calloused from my efforts.

While reviewing the collection that sat in front of me, though, I was reminded time and again of one giant thought--that I am a lucky guy. A very, very lucky guy. Two beautiful daughters and one resilient son. Kind and compassionate, all of them. Various notes printed in crayon and colored pictures documenting the world from their view were soon scattered all over my desk, my lap, and taped to my office walls.

What follows is one of the pieces, currently hanging on my office book shelf, that I am allowed to share with you, courtesy of my son, written several years ago as a homework assignment in third grade for Mrs. F. My heartfelt thanks from me to her. And to heck with grammar and punctuation and new paragraphs. The beautiful childlike cursive and use of "my dad" ten times is all I really needed.


My Inspiration

My Inspiration is my dad because he teaches me things I need to know. He also helps me when I need him or if I get hurt my dad is there to help. My dad is a great cook and my favorite thing he makes are egg whites. My dad helps me in my baseball skills and helps me in other sport. My dad has helped me so much in my fort in the woods. My dad drives me places I need to go like baseball practice and baseball games. At night my dad would come in my room and say goodnight. Then we would play this game. My dad works so hard so we can do things we want to do like go on vacation. My dad helps me clean up the yard when my mom says to clean the yard by myself. When I grow up I want to be just like my dad.

Cole in 3-F

As soon as I had read this piece, I stood from my office chair and hurried myself into our foyer, to the northern wall, where my favorite picture of my buddy and I was hanging in an antique frame among the numerous other framed pictures. I stood on my tiptoes, barely reaching its lower border, until I successfully lifted it from its hanging nail.

I returned to my office and sat back down, focusing on the picture. Immediately, I was taken back ten years to the beautiful North Carolina coastline. To our family vacation. To a healthy Cole. To the summer before Cole would spend a full year on his induction chemotherapy to beat his illness.

I posted the picture above. In case you don't know, I am the one on the right, with the wedgie.

I still look at this picture often, always amazed to think that it was taken at a time when our life was pollyanna, when bad things happened to other people--not to us. I look at my son's little hand, raised up into my own, and feel the surge of the bond from our contact. I carry a sand pail in my right hand, ready to tackle another project together, my buddy and I. Together. Regardless if it entails building a sand castle or fighting a life-threatening illness. I am there for my kids, always.

Finally, look at the view that faced us as we walked forward. The big, big ocean, although only a small part of our bigger, bigger world. The enormity of symbolism in this picture staggers me. Come hold my hand, Cole, I must have thought, I'll take care of you. And together, we head on into the waves, into the roughening path that life sometimes leads us on.

Blindly and unknowing, we walked, but with a strength and a conviction that any obstacle will be faced to the best of our ability.

And although it took a couple hard-fought battles, we won Cole's war. He won his war.

I don't think I need to tell you who my inspiration is...

As always, big thanks for reading. I do cook more than egg whites, I promise. And my wife does help pick up the yard, sometimes (she asked me to let you know--lol). I hope this finds you well and that you are both inspiring and inspired in your own life...

25 comments:

Christine Claire Reed said...

My favorite thing in that photo is how perfectly matched your footsteps are...like a choreographed dance, and think about how amazing that was, considering the size of the feet involved, the differences in the gaits. :)

tracy said...

This is so wonderful...makes me want to go hug my son. My n i n e t e e n year old son!

Once again, you have honestly touched my heart, Dr. Jim.

Thank you.

Tiff said...

so beautiful and what a fabulous picture.Thank you for sharing with us.

Anonymous said...

My dad loved us although he stopped showing it, but you remind me of that love and for that, I thank you.

rnraquel said...

Lovely :)

Jim ( UK ) said...

Thank YOU for your moment of history .

Heather said...

This is beautiful, brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for sharing :)

Katie said...

This post is an inspiration! :-)

<>< Katie

Heather said...

It's amazing how much love and inspiration you can find in a 30 pound little guy, isn't it?

Hope you are all well! I've been missing you!

Karen said...

Beautiful.

Katie said...

That wedgie didn't lead to any undesirable presents in the swim trunks, did it? Oh, wait, that was a different Cole story...

<>< Katie

Anonymous said...

Wedgie or not, you are hot! Great story, as always!

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Thanks for letting me see this part of your life and that of your son. Your writing always inspires me to do better in my life.

Kris said...

Beautiful!

Sarah said...

Inspiring, touching, tear-jerking. I am going to write a love note to my husband now.

Have Myelin? said...

beautiful. i was (am) the same way. my stuff, we call the "living history museum". lol.

emmy said...

Thank you for sharing that beautiful bit of your family with us. It has helped comfort me. Today I have promised to pray for two ladies on facebook, whom I don't know personally, but who are starting chemotherapy today and had lunch with a friend whose mother was diagnosed yesterday with end stage breast cancer. It helps to be reminded that some of us do survive this disease. Thanks again, for sharing this.

Holly said...

You know, I started to read this post the day you put it up. I got to the part where Cole wrote "My Inspiration" and stopped. I was at work and KNEW I couldn't read that till I got home. Then I skipped over it at home till I had time to really savor the post and all the love, and all the fear and all the emotion POURING out of that photo and the words surrounding it.

you.are.a.great.dad.

truly

really

honestly

if every child had a daddy who cared the way you do, just imagine how you could change the world.

*tips hat to you*

You GO Daddy!

coulrophobic agnostic said...

More children need parents like you.

I've been seriously discussing the matter of having kids with the person I hope to spend the rest of my life with, and for me it keeps coming back to the same question: "Do I have what it takes to be a good mother?"

On that level, you're something of an inspiration to me too.

ROS said...

What a beautiful post, wow very moving.

Sarah said...

Absolutely beautiful, Jim...

Jabulani said...

I understand this completely. There is a whole drawer in my filing cabinet given over to children's art over the past 10 years. It's a thrill every now and then, to open it up and sit and revisit them. Ah, the thunderous power of memories...how fabulous that you are making colourful ones for your children to recall in years to come. God bless you and your family, Jim.

Peter said...

Hi! The joy of parenthood only gets better when the day comes that your children have little ones of their own. A solid and stable family environment that you have, will surely follow them when they become parents, touch wood!

Take Care,
Peter

Cal said...

Kids and cancer is an awfully unfair combination. I am glad your son is now well, but sorry you guys had to go through the long treatment. Stay well! All of you.

Have Myelin? said...

Hang on to the overflowing desk letters, pictures and cards. One day you will be glad you did. I hung on to mine because not only did I love what these items represented, I wanted to also show them to my future grandkids. =)

Unfortunately my daughter died. I have what amounts to a living history museum and I thank God every day I saved EVERYTHING from both kids!

My GP frames his very young son's art and displays it everywhere. It is stunningly beautiful.