One of A Kind

au0LG_AuSt__77December 19, 1932 — March 9, 2013

Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

Harry was locally sourcing his food years before chefs in California starting using cilantro and arugula (both of which he hated). For his signature bacon and tomato sandwich, he procured 100% all white Bunny Bread from Georgia, Blue Plate mayonnaise from New Orleans, Sauer’s black pepper from Virginia, home-grown tomatoes from outside Oxford, and Tennessee’s Benton bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription. As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life.

The women in his life were numerous. He particularly fancied smart women. He loved his mom Wilma Hartzog (deceased), who with the help of her sisters and cousins in New Hebron reared Harry after his father Walter’s death when Harry was 12. He worshipped his older sister Lynn Stamps Garner (deceased), a character in her own right, and her daughter Lynda Lightsey of Hattiesburg. He married his main squeeze Ann Moore, a home economics teacher, almost 50 years ago, with whom they had two girls Amanda Lewis of Dallas, and Alison of Starkville. He taught them to fish, to select a quality hammer, to love nature, and to just be thankful. He took great pride in stocking their tool boxes. One of his regrets was not seeing his girl, Hillary Clinton, elected President.

He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna [Vi-e-na] sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread.

He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on. He loved to use his oversized “old man” remote control, which thankfully survived Hurricane Katrina, to flip between watching The Barefoot Contessa and anything on The History Channel. He took extreme pride in his two grandchildren Harper Lewis (8) and William Stamps Lewis (6) of Dallas for whom he would crow like a rooster on their phone calls. As a former government and sociology professor for Gulf Coast Community College, Harry was thoroughly interested in politics and religion and enjoyed watching politicians act like preachers and preachers act like politicians. He was fond of saying a phrase he coined “I am not running for political office or trying to get married” when he was “speaking the truth.” He also took pride in his service during the Korean conflict, serving the rank of corporal–just like Napoleon, as he would say.

Harry took fashion cues from no one. His signature every day look was all his: a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom, his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam’s on Highway 49, and a pair of old school Wallabees (who can even remember where he got those?) that were always paired with a grass-stained MSU baseball cap.

Harry traveled extensively. He only stayed in the finest quality AAA-rated campgrounds, his favorite being Indian Creek outside Cherokee, North Carolina. He always spent the extra money to upgrade to a creek view for his tent. Many years later he purchased a used pop-up camper for his family to travel in style, which spoiled his daughters for life.

He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words “veranda” and “porte cochere” to put on airs, eating grape leaves, Law and Order (all franchises), cats, and Martha Stewart. In reverse order. He particularly hated Day Light Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil’s Time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest.

Because of his irrational fear that his family would throw him a golf-themed funeral despite his hatred for the sport, his family will hold a private, family only service free of any type of “theme.” Visitation will be held at Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street, Gulfport on Monday, March 11, 2013 from 6-8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jeff Davis Campus) for their library. Harry retired as Dean there and was very proud of his friends and the faculty. He taught thousands and thousands of Mississippians during his life. The family would also like to thank the Gulfport Railroad Center dialysis staff who took great care of him and his caretaker Jameka Stribling.

Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Day Light Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord’s Time.  http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sunherald/obituary.aspx?n=harry-stamps&pid=163538353&fhid=4025#fbLoggedOut#storylink=cpy

Penned by his daughter Amanda Lewis as she was making her way from Dallas to Stamps’ final resting place in Long Beach, Mississippi, the late custom bacon sandwich lover’s death notice has been hailed as the “best obit ever” as it has made the rounds of social networks since it was first posted yesterday. I am grateful to get to read about a one of a kind man who loved and was loved so deeply.

Too Much Work and Not Enough Play

rudolphEleven days off work has turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had in ages. Once again I am reminded that too much work and not enough play dulls my senses and washes the color from my life.  In the spirit of that statement I have taken the liberty of re-posting today from a Christmas past.

Originally Posted on December 22, 2011

Yesterday day at work I recited to someone an alternate version of a favorite Christmas song he had never heard.  With it fresh on my mind, I tried it out on two others who it turned out had never heard it as well.  So today it is getting shared here for the “betterment of posterity”.

I have no exact memory of how old I was, but my favorite uncle taught me this alternate version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” when I was still in elementary school.  It took him teaching me on and off for a full weekend before all the words were indelibly stamped in my brain where they have remained now for fifty years.  Here goes:

Randolph, the bow-legged cowboy
Had a very shiny gun
And if you ever saw it
You would turn about and run.

All of the other cowboys
Used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Randolph
Join in any poker games.

Then one day the bank was robbed
And sheriff came to say
“Randolph with your gun so bright
Won’t you guide my posse tonight?”

Then all the cowgirls loved him
As they shouted out with glee
Randolph the bow-legged cowboy
You’ll go down in history!

There are many alternate versions of Christmas carols and poetry of the season, but none I enjoy more than this slightly twisted version of “Twas the Night before Christmas”.  It is a reminder of what the season is truly about.

Tis the month before Christmas, we’re all going nuts;
With so much to do, there are no ifs, ands or buts.
Buy presents, hang tree lights, pop cards in the mail,
Send gift packs, thread popcorn, find turkeys on sale.

Decorations need stringing up all through the house.
And you haven’t a clue what to buy for your spouse.
School concerts, receptions, open houses with friends,
Long lineups, short tempers, tying up the loose ends.

With all our mad dashing, we’re reeling from shock;
Let’s stop for a minute and really take stock.
It’s crassly commercial, the cynical say;
If that’s true, that our fault… it’s us and not they.

Take time for yourself-though hard as that seems—
Enjoy your kids’ laughter, excitement and dreams.
Take a moment out now, don’t get overly riled,
Instead make an angel in snow with your child.

The shortbread can wait, and so can the tree;
What’s important to feel is a child’s sense of glee.
The holidays aren’t about push, rush and shove;
They’re for friendship and sharing and family love.

Hear the bells, feel the warmth, light up with the glow
Of a message first sent to us so long ago:
Peace, love and goodwill, and hope burning bright.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Now is the time of heightened goodwill, of giving, of loving one and all.  It is a time of celebration of children; the ones we adults used to be, the ones we brought into the world and the one who was born in a manger over two thousand years ago.

Aldous Huxley wrote:  Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.  Without doubt that phrase was abundantly true about me during much of my life.  This year I have more Christmas spirit than I probably have ever had and the reason is two-fold and simple:  I have more love in my life than ever before and my gratitude for living is at an all time high and growing.

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
Charles Dickens

The Day Before The Day Before Thanksgiving

Today, tomorrow and Thursday/Thanksgiving Day GoodMorningGratitude.com will feature a favorite poem about the holiday. I feel gratefulness year round more than I have ever, but never as acutely as I do right now. I know this stretch of holidays from now until after first of the year will be a truly special time.

“Thanksgiving” by Edgar A. Guest
Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,
An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;
An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they
Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;
Chattin’ an’ braggin’ a bit with the men,
Buildin’ the old family circle again;
Livin’ the wholesome an’ old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all.
Father’s a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an’ to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin’ our stories as women an’ men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we’re grateful an’ glad to be there.
Home from the east land an’ home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an’ best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We’ve come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an’ be frank,
Forgettin’ position an’ station an’ rank.

Give me the end of the year an’ its fun
When most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An’ I’ll put soul in my Thanksgivin’ prayers.

With a spirit of thankfulness and a sense of year round gratitude, I wish you peace that lasts, love that endures and the sense to appreciate them.

The very quality of your life, whether you love it or hate it,
is based upon how thankful you are toward God.
It is one’s attitude that determines whether life
unfolds into a place of blessedness or wretchedness.
Indeed, looking at the same rose-bush,
some people complain that the roses have thorns
while others rejoice that some thorns come with roses.
It all depends on your perspective.
Francis Frangipane

Most Loving Family I Have Known

 

Last evening my Codependence Anonymous ‘family’ celebrated my fifth year in recovery from codependency.  It was a moving experience just like each anniversary before. “Blessed Are They” below originally posted on April 5, 2012 https://goodmorninggratitude.com/2012/04/05/blessed-are-they/

Codependency is a behavior pattern in which a person tends to form unhealthy relationships. People like me who have engaged in codependent behavior almost always appear to place the needs and desires of other people before their own. These other people often have unresolved emotional issues and sometimes addictions which the codependent person tries to repair, ignore or avoid. That is certainly true with me as I often picked people who needed “fixing”.

Ironically, the source of codependency isn’t about other people – it’s about the relationship with one’s self. Generally this manifests in things like insecurity, deficient self-confidence and even self-loathing. At the core of it all is a scarcity of self-love. Within that condition I spent many years feeling “less than” and that I didn’t measure up. I hid those feelings well and they were rarely noticed by anyone.

One of the tendencies of codependency is difficulty accepting gifts. When someone gives me something, that gift is far from unappreciated. Actually I am thankful beyond my ability to express gratitude. It’s a conflicted feeling of unworthiness in one sense, yet being hugely grateful at the same moment. Talk about bewildering!

Gifts received with difficulty are not just tangible items, but compliments and pats on the back as well. The latter two can be especially hard to accept with a tendency to deflect the good that has been expressed in my direction. At the least there is often some sort of discounting expressed. An example is someone saying to me “you did a great job on that project” with my reply being “no big deal” or “most anyone could have done it”. Receiving positive feedback is highly prized within me but even today I am uncomfortable receiving it. However I have learned to just say “thank you” even though I often blush a little when I do.

There is a tradition in most 12-Step groups to celebrate the annual anniversary of a when a person first got into recovery. Codependents Anonymous is no exception. A brass coin is given which is first “charged” with a few encouraging comments said by each group member one at a time while holding the coin.

The date marking the end of my fourth fifth year was last October, but when it came up in the group to award my coin I always found some excuse to put off the award. I’d say I wanted to make sure “so and so” was at the meeting or something of the sort. Of course I always picked someone who rarely came to the meetings any more as my way of putting it off.

Why I kept dragging my feet on the simple little celebration of my anniversary was simple: Listening to good things said about me on other “recovery birthdays” embarrassed me. I LOVED HEARING THEM but reception of those “gifts of love in words” from the group members conflicted with the conditioning of codependence of not being “worthy”.

Such kindness and love expressed toward me last night brought fidgeting, teared up eyes and even a red face of positive embarrassment more than one. The latter coming from the simple fact that it is still hard to imagine that people like and respect me as much as they said. Yet, I know all spoke honest words from their heart. A day latter the joy still dances in me for the sincere people who said such loving things to me. The little boy who rarely if ever got such praise as a child is happily frolicking within today. I am grateful beyond words to my Wednesday Codependence Anonymous group!

Blessed are they who see beautiful things
in humble places where other people see nothing.
Camille Pissarro

Regret Has Lived Long Enough

Very few memories of when I was a toddler stuck, however, there is one that has remained constant since the fall after my second birthday. Mom, Dad and I were visiting my Grandfather (my father’s father) way down in the country in a rural Clay County, Alabama community called Shiloh.

My memory is restricted to a few animated night images in that old clapboard house, but what I remember is vivid. Having never slept in a house at night that had no electricity I was enthralled by the yellow glow of room from kerosene lamps and a bright fire burning in the fireplace. Both threw large shadows on the walls that seem to dance, especially when anyone moved around the room.

To this day I can tell you how the furniture was arranged in the room, what tables the lamps where on, where chairs were, which wall the door to the outside was located and even where the kitchen was. A hot coal popped out of the fireplace and I learned the hard way not to pick things like that. I guess I burned my finger a little, but only remember picking it up and not any pain from the experience.

Being there felt magical, as if I had entered some kingdom like I saw a few years later in “The Seven Dwarf’s” house in the woods. It never occurred until I was much older how poor the old man who lived in the little run down “shack” was.

While my Dad’s Father was grumpy a lot of the time, later he read the Bible to me sometimes in his room at night when I was five and six years old when he lived with us. I remember him as a quirky man who saved chicken feathers for some reason I never knew and preferred newspaper soaked in water to toilet paper. I can close my eyes even now and remember him walking through the back yard headed to the outhouse with an old pot under his arm, filled with strips of newspaper floating in warm water. Guess I shouldn’t knock it since I’ve never tried it.

We called my grandfather “Pawpaw”.  Working he never amounted to much although he tried one money-making scheme after another. He tried selling books door to door unsuccessfully and tried to farm but was no good at it. He was in the army in World War I but spent his time in France in the hospital with dysentery. Essentially Pawpaw lived his adult life on a small pension from his military service and whatever he could scratch up buying and selling things. Looking back now I realize he was a sad man whose wife left him with two small boys (my father and uncle) who he raised. He made a mess of being a father, but I am certain he did the best he could.

The old man touches my heart to this day because of a lie he told in love each year around Christmas time. There were a lot of years growing I had no contact with my Father, but Pawpaw would just show up around holidays with gifts for my brother and I he said where from my Dad. I knew he had bought them because they were the sort of useful things a man of his depression generation might buy: handkerchiefs, a brush and comb set, a manicure set, notebook paper, pencils and such. I was grateful he remembered us, even if my father didn’t.

Pawpaw’s full name was Lovette Egbert Browning, born November 22, 1886 and died July 12, 1973. He was my grandfather and I will always remember him as a well-intended man who held my brother and I deep in his heart. He died when I was nineteen. I used the excuse that I lived a thousand miles away in Colorado and had almost no money as a reason not to go home for his funeral. That regret has lived long enough within. I am grateful to share it and release it on this page today.

We must all suffer from one of two pains:
the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.
The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.
Jim Rohn

A Little Advice

My son and his lady dear are away on a month-long experience in Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand in celebration of achieving his doctorate. He posts photos and recaps of each day on a travel blog. I’m touched by the smiles on their faces and how happy they are together. Covered in mud and sweat from riding dirt bikes in a group excursion far out into the country, the expressions on their faces yesterday are the sort of riches a parent hopes for a child. He’s a fully grown man of thirty and a good one too. However, I will always be a “Father” who offers a little advice here and there like the two nuggets of insight below.

“The Tone of Voice” – author unknown
It’s not so much what you say
As the manner in which you say it;
It’s not so much the language you use
As the tone in which you convey it;
“Come here!” I sharply said,
And the child cowered and wept.
“Come here,” I said-
He looked and smiled
And straight to my lap he crept.
Words may be mild and fair
Or the tone may pierce like a dart;
Words may be soft as the summer air
But the tone may break my heart;
For words come from the mind
Grow by study and art-
But tone leaps from the inner self
Revealing the state of the heart.
Whether you know it or not,
Whether you mean or care,
Gentleness, kindness, love, and hate,
Envy, anger, are there.
Then, would you quarrels avoid
And peace and love rejoice?
Keep anger not only out of words-
Keep it out of your voice.

From “Tribute On A Very Real Person” Unknown
People are of two kinds, and he
Was the kind I’d like to be.
Some preach their virtues, and a few
Express their lives by what they do;
That sort was he. No flowery phrase
Or glibly spoken word of praise
Won friends for him. He wasn’t cheap
Or shallow, but his course ran deep,
And it was pure. You know the kind.
Not many in life you find
Whose deeds outrun their words so far
That more than what they seem, they are.

Being a father has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. From birth till now my son has been a true joy and it grows as the pile of memories gets bigger and bigger. For the gift of being a parent and all the it has taught me I am deeply grateful.

Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you,
and their souls the heaviest responsibility
He will place in your hands.
Be a person in whom they can have faith.
When you are old,
nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.
Lisa Wingate

A Gift You Give Yourself

I am mostly me, but bits of others people are mixed in. For some habits and tendencies I know exactly who I intentionally copied them from. Then there are those I picked things up from simply being around others; some good, some not.

What did I get from my Father? I look a lot like him and stand sometimes like he often did. He was a womanizer and with the best of intentions to be otherwise, I found myself in adult life following in his steps to a point. However, how he made a mess of his life went far deeper.  In his late 40’s and 50’s came a slow suicide with alcohol and hard drugs. The addictions were picked up trying to be “cool” with 20-something women he liked to have around. He was attracted to truly “bad girls” who were a perfect fit his addictions. Dad got sober and straight the last year and a half of his life, but I never spoke to him during that time. He died at an Alcohol Anonymous meeting from a heart attack.  I don’t hold anything against my Father any more. I actually feel sorry for him.

Then there is my Mother who taught me how to be truly selfish simply from watching her behavior. She was eighteen when I was born and not even 21 when my brother came along. By twenty-five my Father got another woman pregnant and left to be with her. Mom went kind of crazy after that and became highly self-absorbed. She was attractive and “easy” with a steady flow of men. From her antics I saw and heard way more about sex than any 8-year-old kid should be exposed to. She was completely oblivious to how she was screwing up her children. Like pets one might keep, she saw that we didn’t go hungry, had a dry place to sleep and went to school. Past that my Brother and I took care of each other but grew up starved for parental affection. My Mother is still alive but to my knowledge has never admitted any regrets. I have not spoken to her in 20 years and it’s a toss-up if I ever will. I pity my Mother and the mess she made of her life, but forgave her a long time ago (mostly anyway).

Forgiving our parents is a core task of adulthood, and one of the most crucial kinds of forgiveness. We see our parents in our mates, in our friends, in our bosses, even in our children. When we’ve felt rejected by a parent and have remained in that state, we will inevitably feel rejected by these important others as well.

The sins of parents are among the most difficult to forgive. We expect the world of them, and we do not wish to lower our expectations. Decade after decade, we hold out the hope, often unconsciously, that they will finally do right by us. We want them to own up to all their misdeeds, to apologize, to make heartfelt pleas for our forgiveness.

Getting to a forgiving place, finding the forgiving self inside us, is a long and complicated journey. We have to be ready to forgive. We have to want to forgive. The deeper the wound, the more difficult the process—which makes forgiving parents especially hard. But when we get there, the forgiveness we achieve will be a forgiveness worth having. From the May 2003 issue of “O”, the Oprah Magazine

For my own sanity, I forgave both my parents long ago. I forgave my Father for abandoning us and my Mother for not even trying to protecting my Brother and I from the evil stepfather she brought into our lives. I am grateful to have found some peace and light within memories that once were filled with darkness and fear.

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
Suzanne Somers

A Multi-Colored Continuum

At four years old I had all the world I wanted: Davy Crockett gloves with fringe, a tricycle, parents I still thought were cool and grandparents who fussed over their oldest grand boy. The world was a giant mystery that I was busy discovering. Each morning I woke up liking life.

With no kindergarten where I grew up, the day I was thrust into first grade was scary. I didn’t want to be there. Quiet and withdrawn, in time I found a good friend that got me through. The buddy was school that came easy. I liked succeeding at something and being appreciated for it.

Before I knew it the age of ten rolled around. This was the year life began to bring real disappointment and even fear as a “nasty stepfather” came into my life. I learned to dislike and even hate through how he treated my brother and I. The lesson was some people truly are evil.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was thirteen when something never felt before came over me. A magnetic attraction toward a girl was sparkling new and near startling, but felt deliciously daring. I didn’t understand what was going on but I liked what I was feeling during that sweet and innocent afternoon.

In what felt like only a month, two more years passed and almost abruptly I was sixteen years old, had a car (a blue VW) and was ‘in love’ for the first time. I witnessed an amazing sense of being vibrantly alive before the coin flipped to introduce me to romantic heartbreak for the first time six months later.

The world began to go crazy. I was kicked out of home for reasons I don’t understand even today. I was a good kid, a Boy Scout and an honor student but the “evil pretend father” feared me after I stood up to him the first time. He took my car and pushed me out of the house.  Walking down the street with a suitcase and enough money for a motel and food for two days was one of the most fearful moments I’ve ever experienced.

The words I spoke in the phone booth were “I have no place to go. Can I come live with you?”. On the other end of the line was my birth father who was near a complete stranger.  I had seen him only twice since I was seven years old. From two hundred miles away came the word “yes” and one of the best years of my growing up began; my senior year of high school.

Looking back at the plethora of emotions touching me for the first time, my memory is clear of how bewildering life was during those formative years. At the same time I felt vibrantly alive during the ups and downs. Living was filled with near constant firsts and fresh experiences and quite possibly the deepest range of joy and unhappiness ever experienced. Each and every one was a tile in the mosaic of the person I am today.

In recent years the view has arrived of seeing life as a multi-colored continuum instead of separate individual experiences. Each and every event and occurrence are connected. Like a “draw by numbers” portrait those first eighteen years shaped the outline of who I became and am today. I am grateful to be able to look back now and realize how important ALL those experiences were.

I believe that everything happens for a reason.
People change so that you can learn to let go,
things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right,
you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself,
and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
Marilyn Monroe

The Gift to My Life

Sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words. When I saw this photo for the first time this morning, feelings of intense gratitude for my son washed over me and brought a happy tear to my eye. He is far from perfect, but has become the man a father can be truly proud of. This Saturday he turns 30 years old and seeing the image above brought instant feelings of  gratefulness for the gift to my life he has always been. Happy Birthday Nick!

What Is A Dad?

A dad is someone who
wants to catch you before you fall
but instead picks you up,
brushes you off,
and lets you try again.

A dad is someone who
wants to keep you from making mistakes
but instead lets you find your own way,
even though his heart breaks in silence
when you get hurt.

A dad is someone who
holds you when you cry,
scolds you when you break the rules,
shines with pride when you succeed,
and has faith in you even when you fail…
What Is A Dad? Writer Unknown

A Letter To My Son on Father’s Day

ORIGINALLY Posted on June 19, 2011

Dear Nick,

Vivid in memory are the emotions I experienced just after you were born. The day after you arrived I wrote in a journal about the joy I felt, the gratefulness within for you being ‘normal” with the proper number of fingers and toes, the awe that filled me for life and the hopes I had for you. I described your birth as “the most incredible thing I’ve ever witnessed” and also wrote “No child could be more wanted or more loved.” Those thoughts have aged sweeter as time has clicked by.

Frequent have been musings of how I could have been a better Father. Had I not chased with such vigor the emptiness of dysfunctional illusion, success and money I could have been there for you more. There were too many of your games I missed,weekend outings that never were and small events at school that were big happenings for you when my presence was missing. I never did build the treehouse I promised you.

Your Mother and I went our separate ways when you were sixteen which took you hundreds of miles away. One of my deepest regrets is your high school years when seeing you only every couple of months I became a sideline spectator of your life. Yet, as I mature and learn I have come to know regrets past making sure you aware of them, have no good purpose.

There are so many wonderful memories I have of your growing up. No child has ever been more curious about the world than you. You never crawled and began to recklessly walk at 7 months old. Such determination you have always had!

In school you did well and had the respect of most of your teachers. You made good friends and some of those relationships are healthy and thriving today. The only time you ever really got in trouble at school was through protecting a friend from a bully. How the game of hockey worked when you started to play at seven was unknown to me, but no father was ever prouder than I was to watch you. The lessons that came at you in college were hard ones, but you learned from your mistakes. I can not begin to express my admiration for your determination and stick-to-it-ness to get the education you wanted.

On this father’s day I hope these borrowed words express clearly to you the feelings of my heart and the wishes of my soul.

Until you have a son of your own… You will never know the joy beyond joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honor that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass on something good and useful into the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to see.

We live in a time when it is hard to speak from the heart. Our lives are smothered by a thousand trivialities, and the poetry of our spirits is silenced by the thoughts and cares of daily affairs.

And so, I want to speak to you honestly. I do not have answers. But I do understand the questions. I see you struggling and discovering and striving upward, and I see myself reflected in your eyes and in your days. In some deep and fundamental way, I have been there and I want to share.

I, too, have learned to walk, to run, to fall. I have had a first love. I have known fear and anger and sadness. My heart has been broken and I have known moments when the hand of God seemed to be on my shoulder. I have wept tears of sorrow and tears of joy.

There have been times of darkness when I thought I would never see light again, and there have been times when I wanted to dance and sing and hug every person I met.

I have felt myself emptied into the mystery of the universe, and I have had moments when the smallest slight threw me into rage.

I have carried others when I barely had the strength to walk myself, and I have left others standing by the road with their hands out stretched for help.

Sometimes I feel I have done more than anyone can ask; other times I feel I am a charlatan and a failure. I carry within me the spark of greatness and the darkness of heartless crimes.

In short, I am a man, as are you.

Although you will walk your own earth and move through your own time, the same sun will rise on you that rose on me, and the same reasons will course across your life as moved across mine. We will always be different, but we will always be the same.

This is my attempt to give you the lesson of my life, so that you can use them in yours. They are not meant to make you into me. It is my greatest joy to watch you turn into yourself.

To be your father is the greatest honor I have ever received. It allowed me to touch mystery and to see my love made flesh. If I could but have one wish, it would be for you to pass that love along.

I love you,

Pops

You are my son-shine.
Author Unknown