We all sat in the den watching some dumb reality show and laughing until our sides hurt. That’s what always happens when my oldest son, Andrew who lives in Baltimore with his wife, comes down. He’ll leave his job as an Air Force Chinese Linguist on Thursday afternoon and spend the weekend with us. During that time Jack and Catherine will also come over and we’ll eat horrible food and try to make each other do a spit-take while doing so. We’ve done this several times since he returned from being stationed in Hawaii.
If you asked me what my favorite thing to do is; that is it. All three kids and Cookie there; telling stories, making comments about current events and just generally catching up on life.
Cookie and I have three children. There’s the aforementioned Andy who lives with his wife in Baltimore. Catherine works with autistic children, and she graduated from VCU like her mother and father. Jack the youngest went rogue and graduated from ODU. He is a computer guy subcontracted by Chesterfield Schools.
While the degrees and fancy Air Force jobs are great, they are not what I am most proud of in regards to my kids. What I am most proud of is that they are genuinely kind and compassionate humans.
When you watch my kids interact with other people you can see it in their eyes. The patience to listen, the compassion and understanding that comes from someone who truly listens to you. I think that’s pretty rare. I would love to take credit for it all, but I think they get it from Cookie, her sister Karen, brother Brian, along with my dad and brother Hank; ALL world class humans.
Cookie’s parents had to be transitioned to assisted living recently, and it has become a gargantuan task taking care of the all the details which include re-habbing their home for sale. We didn’t even have to ask our two offspring who live in town to help. They have been there the whole time – cutting grass, moving furniture, making trips to charities with stuff and moving their grandparents into the new place.
Sunday we went over to the house and started throwing the dozens of black garbage bags and miscellaneous furniture into the dumpster we had rented. It took awhile, and then we started working on the yard which needed a ton of care. My bad back was killing me, so we took a break and went home for lunch. Cookie remarked that she thought it would take about 10 bags of mulch to do the area we had just cleared, and I winced at the thought of it. So I shot a text to Jack to see if his young back was available. He must have been busy, so I didn’t hear from him right away. I told Cookie I would go get the mulch, meet her there, and at least drop it off in place for her.
On the way to Home Depot, Jack called and asked, “What’s up?” I asked him if he was busy, and he said he was just getting ready to head out to go grocery shopping but it could wait. I let him know that I was pulling into Home Depot and said, “Thanks anyway. I can handle it.” He pleaded with me to let him help, but I told him I was good.
After dropping the mulch off I went home to take some ibuprofen and stretch and rest my back. When Cookie got back home about an hour later she looked exhausted. I asked her how it went, and she said that she had replanted the monkey grass. She was so tired after that she didn’t know if she could spread the mulch until…..Jack dropped by.
I could go on and on with stories about how all three were kind and compassionate but that is the most recent one. I believe serving your country and working with autistic children kinda of speaks for itself.
When I was a teacher on the first day of school I would tell the students, “I am going to give you a gift. It will be the most important gift that you will ever get. The gift I am going to give you will make you happy for the rest of their life, and all that you have to do is do exactly what I tell you”
I would ask them if they would be willing to do what I told them if it meant they would be happy? They would all nod their “yes” and looked super excited. Then I would point to the powerpoint slide that had popped up next and it would say – “Be a good person.” I would then tell them that they would still experience pain, loss, and death, but on the whole if they lived their life as a good person they would be as happy as the richest person on earth. The first lesson of the year was the most important and paid dividends throughout the school year.
So my gift this Father’s Day is the gift that I know will keep giving long after I’ve been released from this mortal coil. It’s the gift that somehow Cookie and I were able to have these kind and compassionate children. We’ll get together and maybe have some Popeye’s chicken and try to make each other laugh.