Laughter-filled years race past


Editor’s Notebook

By Woody Woodrick

Advocate Editor

Knowing the day is coming doesn’t make its approach any easier. And when it arrives, it will still be tough. Just 10 days from today our younger son will graduate from high school.

Many of us go through this situation: the youngest child graduates and enters the world of semi-adulthood. What’s that they say? Misery loves company.

OK, I’m not really miserable. Mostly I’m happy for him. He’s eager to grow up, to take on the world. We all were that age once. Mostly I’m intrigued. Who and what will he become?

Six months ago, I would have bet the farm he would become a politician. He had developed an interest in government and seems good at the nuances of getting folks elected. But recently he’s talked about pre-med. He would make a good doctor. He cares about people and has a tender heart, more tender than he’d ever let you see. (This is the kid who wouldn’t watch the movie Black Beauty, despite his love for horses, because they were mean to the horse in one scene.)

But who knows? After one semester of college he might decide to become a nuclear physicist or a financier. Or he might be a roady for a rock band. He’s reached that time in life when all things are seemingly possible.

When his older brother graduated, the time seemed to have passed so quickly. I thought I would be better prepared for the second go around; that I could slow time a bit and savor each moment. Maybe I have savored the years more, but they’ve still passed too quickly.

As the past 18 years have raced by, one thing has become clear about this young man. He looks at life a bit differently — usually funnier and often more clearly.

We got our first hint when he was about 3 years old. Big brother had gotten a Lego boat as a gift. He had painstakingly put it together to play with in the bath tub. Shortly after Hurricane Andrew dominated the news, the younger son took a bath with the cherished boat. The older brother went into the bathroom and shrieked. We ran in and discovered each piece of the boat separated and floating in the water. “What happened to the boat?” we demanded.

“Hurricane got it,” the child responded matter-of-factly.

Another time we were driving to Houston, Texas, to see a friend and some baseball. Out of the blue, he asked, “Mom, do people cry in heaven?”

Pretty good question for a 5-year-old, and I glanced at her, eager to hear her response (thankful he had asked her).

“Well,” she said, “you might cry tears of joy or happiness, but you wouldn’t cry tears of sadness because you will be with God and everything will be wonderful.”

“Yeah,” he replied. “Unless you get beat up by some misplaced person.”

Nearly wrecked the car laughing.

Not all of the times have been fun. Like any child, he has done things he knew he shouldn’t, but those haven’t been many. Frustrating maybe, but not over the edge.

For a while, I wondered if he would ever grow up. Oh, he came along fine physically. He literally grew one night. He went to bed one night, and when he got up the next morning I promise he was 2 inches taller. Now he’s 6-foot-3.

I just wondered when maturity would kick in. Of course, it creeped up on me. One day he quit griping about certain chores and did them (although he still has to be told). He’s taken an interest in world affairs, reads about them and can discuss them intelligently. He started doing his homework without being threatened and seemed to grasp the importance of doing well. He’s figured out that he isn’t competing with his older brother, and they are becoming friends. That’s a great blessing.

I’d like him to be more active in church, but he knows that he loves God and God loves him.

So, now he’s graduating and eager to begin college. The transition this fall to an empty nest will be another challenge for his mom and me. But for now, we’re almost as eager as he is. It’s time.

A family friend told me recently that if she were on a sinking ship, she would want our sons with her. “Your older boy would make sure we were safe. But your baby boy would make it fun,” she said.

That’s a pretty good description of their personalities. Yes, he has a knack for making the times good, and I’m going to miss him. In fact, I already do.