On the 6th of December in 1971, I kissed my 8 1/2 month pregnant wife and boarded a flight to begin the journey that would take me to war in Vietnam. My son was born three weeks after my departure on the second day of the new year. I learned of his arrival on January 5 when the Company XO greeted me with the words "Hello, Pappy! It's a boy!"
I have seldom felt prouder or more elated. I bought a round at the officer's club and another at our Company Bar. Later that night, I wrote letters to my wife and son expressing joy and hope for his future.
That son turns forty this week. So far, it's been a great ride.
Over the past forty years, I taught or watched my son learn to crawl, to walk, and to talk. I've watched him play soccer, sing in a show choir, and perform in plays. I watched him fall in love, get married and greet four children of his own. I saw him ordained as a minister and proudly perform the wedding ceremony that united his younger sister with her intended.
I did not always approve of everything my son did or how he did it, and probably never will. He is not me and we think and do things differently. But over the past forty years, I've learned that I don't have to approve of all of someone's actions to love them. And even some of his misadventures turned out kind of neat.
I learned that being a parent doesn't cease when a child grows and assumes his or her rightful position as an independent, responsible and productive member of adult society. Roles and responsibilities may change, but parenthood continues. Nothing has or could ever stop me from being my son's father, or him from being my son. And for this, I am grateful.
Forty years ago, I was blessed with the arrival of a son, and in him, joy and hope for the future. Since then, I have felt that same joy and hope as I greeted another son, two daughters, and eight grand children.
What has similarly filled you with hope and joy?
What can you do and what are you doing to realize that hope?