Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It’s a special day today

My son, David, big lug that he is now, was born on this day thirty years ago; it seems like it was just last week.

When he was two, I took him to see The Empire Strikes Back. It was late in the film’s run, there were just the two of us in the theatre for the matinee performance, and he stood on the seat beside me, balancing himself on the seat back in the next row, and didn’t make a sound through the entire show.

He was already talking in complete sentences by then, it was easy to forget that you were talking to a two-year-old, and we chattered the whole way home; him, pestering me with a thousand questions about what we had just seen, and me, trying to explain the experience in terms he could understand.

He has always been a thoughtful, stubborn sort, wanting to do things his way; I am like that, too. You can debate those qualities, their pros and cons, for days on end, but I think it has worked out okay for both of us.

It did mean that we bumped heads, often, when he was growing up. Once, when he was six or seven, I lose exact dates more and more these days, he told me that he was not pleased with a decision I had made, that he did not love me anymore and that he wanted to find a new family.

I helped him pack, gave him a sack lunch and twenty dollars, and told him to let us know when he found a new home. And then I watched him from an upstairs window, worried to death, for the better part of an hour, as he sat on the suitcase he had dragged down the sidewalk, thinking. When he knocked at the door, and asked if he could come back in, we both were crying.

When he was twelve, he announced that he wanted to be a comic book artist; surprised me with the quality of a pencil drawing he had done of a super hero. He is one of the lucky ones; not all of us discover so early that what we want to do for the rest of our lives is also something we can do well. Even fewer have the courage so young to pursue the dream. David is a commercial artist now; he is still good with pencils, but most of his work is done on computers and he does it for a film production company in Ohio.

Last year, the two of us wrote a screen play together, working long distance via the internet. We have started another, which we expect to complete by the end of this year. It will be such a kick, for both of us, to see our work upon the screen, but it is the ninety minutes each Wednesday that I treasures; just the two of us kicking ideas around, creating something together. It reminds me, every week, of that ride home, all those years ago, from The Empire Strikes Back.

So, I would like to lift this imaginary glass of wine to David, who is miles and miles away, and offer this birthday toast.

May his own son bring as much joy to him as he has brought to me. He was a good kid, even if he was a handful, and he has become a fine man. I am so proud of him and I love him more than I can ever say.