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 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...