He was born early. Not dangerously so, but early nonetheless. His mother had gone in for a check up with her OB/Gyn. She had suffered with high blood pressure lately, and had been on bed rest. He was small, at only 5 pounds and a few ounces. His lungs were not quite ready, and he suffered from jaundice. He was a bit anemic as well. He stayed in the neonatal ICU for a week. When he finally went home, he weighed less than 5 pounds. None of the outfits his parents had received as baby gifts fit him. Even the diapers were too big. His family had to find "preemie" diapers for him. His father could hold him completely in both hands.
When he was 3 years old, his mother and father split. His mother and he left to live with another man. His father was devastated. He could at least handle his wife leaving; they had had their issues. But his son...that was different. He missed the way he ran to him every afternoon when he got home from work and called "daddy!" He missed playing on the floor with him. He missed his buddy. His father ended up working 60 or even 80 hours a week because when he got home, he found he didn't want to be there.
About 6 months later, he came back to live with his father. His mother had issues and his father had fought for him, and won. He couldn't understand why mommy and daddy couldn't be together. He often cried when it was time to go to bed. When his father asked why he said he wanted mommy and daddy together. He didn't know that seeing him hurt was worse for his father than it was for him. He didn't know that his father cried too as he held him and rocked him to sleep.
After a while, his dad met a nice girl and remarried. He was the ring bearer in the wedding. He had a "step-mom" at home now. By this time his birth mother had moved several times, and had very little contact with him. He didn't hear from her for over a year once, and often only every few months at a time. His "step-mom" loved him very much, and they were quite close. She would continue to be much more of a "mom" to him than his birth mom ever would.
When his little brother came along, he was Mr. Helpful. He was protective and loving. He liked to hold "the baby". It was very much the ideal of a family. His second little brother came along a few years later. It was a good time in all their lives.
He went hunting and fishing with his dad and grandfather. His dad often tells the story of his first spring turkey hunt; His dad had set up the decoy, and was working the slate call, about 15 yards from him. He was sitting holding his shotgun ready as 6 gobblers walked behind them at less than 20 yards. He couldn't turn to shoot, and his dad was afraid he would scare them off. As they left, his dad and he quickly got up and ran about 50 yards to another opening. They quickly set up and dad started calling again. Right away, one of the young gobblers came in to the decoy. Dad and he were again about 1o yards apart. Dad says he could see the shotgun wobbling up and down an all around because he was so excited. He never took a shot, but his dad says it was one of the best hunts he had been on, just seeing how excited and happy he was.
Being older, he helped his dad a lot around the house. He learned to work on things. He learned to use tools, and work with wood and metal. He was a quick learner. He helped his dad mow, running the Weed eater string trimmer. When he was a young teenager, he used his "talent" to get mowing jobs near his house. He made pretty good money for so young a boy. Often he could be seen pushing a mower down the street with a weed eater over the handle, to one of his customer’s house.
Into his teenage years, things were getting tough around his home. Competing loyalties between his dad and birth mother, and just being a teenager took a toll on his relationships with his dad and (step)mom. He was so much like his dad had been, and was, that it was getting harder and harder for them to get along well. Both were independent, strong, and smart men. It was hard for both of them to be so close together. He didn't want to give in to his father, and his father couldn't give in to him. His father wanted to help him and guide him to avoid the pitfalls he himself had experienced. He wanted his father to leave him alone to make his own choices. His father wanted him to live up to his capabilities. He wanted to make his own decisions.
He graduated High School this year. The situation and tension with his dad came to a head. He didn’t want to submit to his dad’s authority. He lived at home, but acted if it were his own place with his own rules. He felt that he was now an adult and could come and go and do as he pleased. His dad felt that he was living under his roof, he should follow his rules. Neither would give in.
He moved out yesterday.
He didn’t go far, just to the next town. He went to his Nanna and Peepaws (dad’s parents) to live in their upstairs garage apartment. He’s on his own, but with a safety net. He will be going to college in the summer and fall, while continuing to work at the part-time job he has had for 2 years.
His dad is proud of him, not for leaving, but for being who he is. He’s also both saddened that he left, and relieved at the same time. Saddened that they couldn’t “make it work”, and relieved that now they can treat each other more as equals instead of having the constant test of wills that had been going on for so long.
I don’t know if he will ever find this blog. If he does, I want him to remember one thing:
I love you son.