When his marriage ended he thought the world did, too. We moved him and what remained into our basement. We helped pay his bills and care for his children and tried to assure him that things would be all right. We didn’t know how and we didn’t know when but we knew that, in time, it would.
It wasn’t long before the walls here at home closed in; he’d had enough of us and we of him. And, as adults go, he was ready and that was fine. He moved to a place he could hardly afford, sleeping on air mattresses and living on leftovers and cheap groceries. I worried and barely slept, because that’s just how I roll. He found a job working outside in the driving snow but he held on to the hope that one day – some day – things would be all right.
He dated a little, but there was always a part of him that he held back. That part that didn’t trust any more. Still, we talked regularly, and with an armful of groceries, he’d hear us say again and again … that things would be all right.
Over time he and the kids settled into a routine and, when the next summer came ’round, he started to live again .. but at an inch at a time. He grilled out and had friends over. But it was those nights when the wee ones weren’t there with him that were the hardest. He told me how he couldn’t sleep so he’d go for walks late at night. He talked longingly of other families through living room windows. He told me in a whisper how hard he prayed for one of his own.
Believing that if you dream it you can be it I asked him to tell me what he wanted. Clearly he replied: “I want someone who gets me, who laughs, who listens, who is kind, who doesn’t yell at me when I forget something or mess up. I want someone who wants to be in a relationship not just talk about it. I want a partner. I want what you have.”
Years passed, time pressed on and he and the littles grew. We could see what he couldn’t – progress.
But still, there was always something missing … and that’s where you come in.
Last Christmas, he mentioned how he’d met a girl by chance (no such thing!) and how different she was. Sweet, kind, giggly, adorable, smart, funny, and easy-going. His list of adjectives to describe
her you went on and on.
Now that I know what I know, I know this: it might have been your brown eyes and beautiful smile that drew him in but it was your kind and accepting heart that held him there.
Did you know that he loves how you’re always cold? I’ve never known him to buy anyone a blanket; he would have mocked anyone who did. He bought you a red fuzzy one and talks about how cute you are under it. Uh-huh.
He marvels that you think to pick up items he’s low on like toilet paper and milk and snacks that kids might enjoy on a field trip.
He was happiest that you were perfectly happy hopping into his truck and riding along with him on an evening work errand.
He’s different now. He smiles more. He’s also fiercely protective of you. He’s not come around as much, he doesn’t call as often, and growth is happening again.
Then there’s the littlest ones – they love you too, did you know that? The boy saved his money to bring you a present from the school carnival. The girl draws pictures … with you in them. Even his ex-wife drops them off to you when needed. That says so much right there.
So thank you. Thank you for seeing in my boy what I’d hoped you would: a capable man with a goofy sense of humor, a strong work ethic, and a big heart still willing to love. You see someone who’d help a neighbor but is just as likely to stop for a stranger, too. A fellow who’s waited and prayed and hoped for a girl who understands, accepts and appreciates him – his strengths, his faults, his wins, his losses. You do this – just this – and that man will swim through shark-infested waters to bring you the best glass of lemonade you’ve ever had.
My role is changing again. He’ll always be my little boy but, more importantly, he’s your man now. I’d like to share this quote I found some time ago ~ it’s helped me and maybe it will you, too.
“Love is made up of three unconditional properties in equal measure:
Remove any one of the three and the triangle falls apart.
Which, by the way, is something highly inadvisable. Think about it — do you really want to live in a world of only two dimensions?
So, for the love of a triangle, please keep love whole.”
-Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
*dedicated to oldest boy and his girl on their engagement this past weekend.