Saturday, October 11, 2008

An Open Letter To My Son Christopher

This is where I want to say the things to you that you'd punch me for saying if we were face to face. (See ... you forced me to go public. It's all your fault.)

Topher, thanks. I suppose I've taught you a few things in your life. Relatively simple things that you would have learned on your own sooner or later. Things like tying your shoes. Zipping your coat. Not running with scissors. Throwing the smoke bomb before the fuse actually reached the little colored ball at the bottom. The usual things that help to get a kid to turn into an adult with the least possible difficulty. You, however, have taught me so much more.

You taught me how to laugh when I really wanted to scream. The "challenges" you presented as the ever growing toddler turned child turned adolescent turned young adult turned almost married man were things that never failed to remind me that life is to short to get bent out of shape by the trivial. I could not tell you this at the time, but almost always when I was having to correct your for one of your famous "Christopher-isms" I was dying laughing on the inside at your insane creativity. You were never the kind of kid to get busted for breaking the law or violating God's moral code in any major way. No, you were the kid who told his teacher to "put a sock in it" when she gave you a direction that you didn't like. And that is exactly what I would have done had I been you. As you know, I still had to ground your sorry self but that's because, being the dad, I couldn't let you get away with it. You were the kid that got himself Duck Taped to a stop sign to find out what drivers would do when the passed by. I'm sure you should have expected that first car to be a police car. But you didn't. True, he simply cut you loose and you were on your way. It probably never occurred to you that he might not have seen the humor in it. There was the infamous "Cat Incident." I won't go into detail here. Just picture the obligatory scowl you saw on my face when I had to call Officer Lindsey and know that behind it I was actually thinking, "Wow. This kid has potential. That was incredibly creative." How did you manage to always land on your feet? Most anybody else would have a long rap sheet by now but somehow, to this very day, when I see one of your old teachers or particular police officers they smile and ask how you are doing. And I know that deep inside each one of them knew, even when they were doing their duty, that you were not only going to "make it" but that you were going to shine.

And that is what you are doing. Today you take your bride. She is an amazing woman. She had better be. She has an amazing future ahead of her. I was there when you were born. I was there for every day of your growing up years. I am here today as you slide a ring onto her finger. I'll be around tomorrow and everyday until Jesus gives me permission to "come on home." I might live a few hundred miles away but all you would ever have to do is call and I would be on the road as soon as I can slip my shoes on and gas up the SUV. I know that you cannot imagine ever needing or wanting to do that. But somehow it's important to me that you know that. And now "Bella" is getting a ring-side seat to the life of Christopher. She already knows what she's in for. She's been around long enough to have figured it out. I do believe she is up to the task she is signing on for.

Indulge me one more second while I tell you, Christopher, that I love you. I won't go into detail. Just try to imagine how much you will love the little child that Bella lays in your arms someday. A product of your love for her and hers for you. Imagine how deep that love goes. Imagine how you would lay everything down for that child ... whether he is two hours old or two decades old. Try to understand how time will never change that love except to deepen it. And then you will have some idea of what you mean to this guy who feels so honored when you call him "dad."

Oh, and just another "last" thing. You know how sometimes when you are driving home from work you grab your cell phone and punch in my number and we talk while you drive? We talk about everything or nothing. And then as you pull in the parking lot you tell me you are there and you have to go. And then you say the simple words, "I love you, dad." Did you know that those moments ... those words ... are worth more than jewels to me? I cannot repay you for the thrills and joys you have brought me.

It is simply enough that you know.

Congratulations son. You chose a very worthy bride. I am proud of you. I love you. Always have. Always will.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cleveland to Chicago to St. Louis to Denver ... and worth every mile

Today was a long and awesome day. It began with our friend, Brandy, taking us to the airport in Cleveland. That's where we found out that we were going to Chicago. I really need to start reading my flight itineraries when I'm going someplace. So we went from Cleveland to Chicago to St. Louis (where we changed planes and caught up with Christopher and Laura) to Denver. Denver is where we greeted Scott and Amanda, as well as grandpa and grandma Sandy. It is also where I decided that I only brought 2 checked bags on the trip instead of three. Yea, me. I totally forgot our "hanging bag" which holds all of our wedding clothes. And I didn't realize it until we checked into the hotel in Castle Rock. Way to go, Ron! After about an hours worth of phone calling I got someone at Southwest Airlines (they were INCREDIBLY helpful) who actually got the bag and put it in the office. Tomorrow the rest of our family flies in and will grab our bag and drag it up to the mountains for us. I love having people willing to bail me out! May their tribe increase!

It was just an awesome day. The fight attendants on the St. Louis to Denver leg of the trip "somehow" found out that Christopher and Laura were getting married. And so they demanded that everybody applaud them as they were presented with a special gift. "Official SWA House Slippers" for Laura. Made out of ... Maxi-Pads. This is too much for the male mind to comprehend so I'll just post a picture and leave it at that.

But by far the best part of the day was just hanging out with my amazing family. I love just listening to my grown kids (including my kids "in-law" which I insist on the right to just call them "my kids,") interact. It is food for my soul. Each one of them is insane is his or her own way. I laughed harder today than I have in a year.

After arm wrestling the teenager girl desk clerk for the hotel bill (I lost) my sons and I ended the day by spending about an hour in the hotel whirlpool just talking. Catching up. Honestly, it may turn out to be the best hour of the trip. If so, it was worth every dime. And tonight it occurs to me ... we closed on our house back in Illinois yesterday, and Saturday we "close" on our last child by gratefully watching as he commits himself with a full heart and without reservation to the woman of his dreams.

Does it get any better than this?

No way.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I hate baseball

See that picture? I saw it live on television as a 13 year old kid. I remember it. It is not the Cardinals. I don't care about them. It isn't the Mets. They don't matter. It isn't the individual Cub players. They are pawns in something bigger. I just do not know what that "something bigger" is. It is like God is mad at the Cubs. Too many quality guys have come and gone only to fold in October. To many weird things (hello, Steve Bartman) has happened. It's cosmic. I really believe it is cosmic.

At this moment, after watching total CARNAGE unfold on my television for several days, I cannot conceive of ever caring about baseball again. If the players do not care then why should I? I am perfectly capable of holding a bat on my shoulder while baseballs go whizzing by just like they did. (Hint: No "swingy swingy/no hitty hitty.) And you wouldn't even have to pay me millions of dollars for the privilege. Just buy me dinner. I'm a cheap date.

I have a personal rule. Being a pastor, and with Sunday being the most intense day of the week, I have made a covenant with myself to never make a major decision on a Monday. This rule has served me well.

This, being the day after the total implosion of "my" Cubs, is not a day for making decisions about my future as a baseball fan. If it were ...

Well, never mind. It just is not the day.

Today I hate baseball.