Ben Is Fifteen Today

A Young Ben and a Friend Intently Watching Something

This is my favorite picture from your childhood. It perfectly portrays who you are. I don’t remember what’s happening outside the frame but you are watching so intently, capturing every detail and internalizing it so you can process it and allow what you are seeing to become a part of you.

This picture reveals your essence. You enjoy studying things and figuring them out. If what you discover conflicts with your sense of fairness, you call attention to that fact and study some more. Your memory runs deep and wide.

I look forward to seeing what you do with your special talents. I believe that no matter which road you choose it will end in wisdom, because that is where your power of observation and of internal process lead you. You are and you are becoming wise.

Happy birthday, Ben.

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Sam Is Seventeen Today

Little Sam at the Piano

Sam, you know I’m not good at remembering things. I don’t mean remembering where I put my keys or remembering important days. I mean remembering events in the past. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I don’t remember details about the day of your birth. The truth is, I have an even harder time assigning what I do remember to you specifically. For me, the births of my three children tend to run together.

However, I do remember one night soon after you came home from the hospital. You were nursing and you choked. Your lips turned blue. Your mother sat you up and patted you on the back and you were instantly fine. But it scared us. Your mother and I were tired and we panicked. I remember thinking, and I may have even said it aloud, “How could they (the hospital staff) have let us come home with a baby? We don’t have any idea what we’re doing!”

From your perspective, I probably come across as self-assured, in control, and decisive. I’ve never been one to shy away from sharing my opinions. But I have to tell you there are many times when I have felt I don’t have any idea what I’m doing.

Luckily for both of us my lack of confidence and occasional self doubt are of no consequence. You are doing just fine all by yourself. You are doing better than fine; you are doing great.

Happy birthday, Sam.

Ben

Ben Holding My Hand During Worship

“Please stand as you are able for the reading of the gospel.”

We stood, and my son, Ben, put his hand over mine as we listened to two stories about healing from Mark 5:21-43. I didn’t notice or think anything about it at first. But then it struck me: How many fourteen-year-old boys hold their father’s hand?

Ben isn’t a particularly touchy-feely individual. Yet his action came naturally and voluntary. It was without pretense or manipulation. That Ben would feel free to express himself in such a way made me feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I thought of my relationship with my father. I had great respect for him. However, at fourteen it would have never occurred to me to touch him.

I’ve never been a big fan of poetry, probably because I’ve never been good at writing it. Hopefully, the picture I recreated of the moment (with Ben’s cooperation) will be the semblance of a poem.