Friday, May 1, 2015
" Happy Birthday John Boy"
Note: This is my annual tribute to my son on his birthday....because he lives in our hearts forever.
You would have been 44 years old today. Despite all of the pain we have suffered since your passing we would not trade anything for the 28 years we had you with us. The images that flicker through our mind are a panorama of "John-Boys"; the little guy who wore a smile from the day he was born and wore that smile for all his days. I used to play with you, saying, "John-boy, whatever you do, don't smile, okay"....you would look at me and try mightily to keep a smile from breaking out on your face...and you would fail, often surrendering the effort in a mighty wave of giggles. God, how I miss that smile, and will until the last of me.
Is it possible that we know when our days are numbered? I have asked that question so many times since your passing. How else can one explain the last months of your life when you showered us with love and grace and a degree of forgiveness that is often beyond the means of our human selves. It seemed as if you were solely focused on touching us, loving us and doing the most considerate big and little things that you thought might make us happy.
Had we all known that, on that last Christmas, you would be leaving us in two months time, how much more could we have given you. Images of those few days still linger. I watched you slide down the snow bank, your face bathed in happy exhilaration as if all your years of sadness was now behind you. I remember the nights of Christmas shopping when you and Melissa were rejoicing as you carefully chose the gifts for your brother and sisters.
God gave us such immense gifts in those last months before your passing. I still remember the long morning walks and the talks we had about family and the warm memories of the past. Each evening, as we prepared the supper meal we watched each other sift and measure to see if we couldn't out do the other with our chosen recipe. Supper prepared, you would sit in the living room, constantly getting up to glance out the window, to see when your mom pulled in. Like a loyal spaniel you had to rush out to your mom to hug and kiss and welcome her home. Just as joyfully, you arose early to take a day labor job and, when not working, rising equally early to walk Melissa to work, just because you knew it would make her happy.
So, John-Boy, for the last nine months of your life you gave and you hugged and you kissed and you smiled and you loved...god, how you loved in those last months.
I tell you now, my dear son...you gave all that you had in those last months, perhaps in the hope that it would be enough to last us for a lifetime...but it wasn't enough. We needed you to be here today, on your 44rd birthday. We wanted to see the tiny crow's feet about the eyes, the laugh wrinkles and the frown lines and the light of wisdom that emanates from living into the prime of life. Most of all we needed to see that perennial smile that graced your visage all the days of your life.
Happy Birthday, my dear son. May God keep you in the gentle cradle of loving arms. I look forward to someday once again feeling the touch of your welcoming embrace and seeing again that john-boy smile.