Thursday, July 15, 2004

Appreciating What You Have -- When You Have It

My dad has been gone for nearly six years now. He died in 1998 and lived to be 94 years old. My mom died just over two years ago, in 2002, at age 88. I still miss them both.

Sometimes, during idle moments, I think of things that I might have done differently when interacting with my parents. I tried to be a good son, but overall might as well have been an alien, a la Clark Kent, dropped into their lives to frustrate and baffle them. We were very different in so many ways. We disagreed often, on just about everything. Still, I loved them dearly and now, when it's too late, wish that I had been a little more tolerant of our differences.

Kids, especially teenagers, know the correct answer to everything -- even in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. I was like that. In evidence of cosmic justice, I now have an eleven-year-old son who is like that. I hope he grows out of it at any earlier age than I did. Yes, I still have opinions on everything, but the only thing I intuitively know for sure is that human beings were made to live free, not under the shackles of government or any group of self-anointed morons who can't and won't leave you alone. Other than that, I will be the first to admit that the only thing I know for sure is that I don't know anything for sure. Yes, I get the paradox.

My wife and I have been without our son for nearly five full days, with two more days to go. He is at an overnight camp, swimming, hiking, canoeing and so on, with about 200 other little boys. Damn, I miss him. As much as he can annoy me sometimes, I can't wait until I can fetch him from the camp, wrap my arms around him and give him a great big hug.

Of course I might have to wait until I get him back home to do that. Being hugged by parents might not be so cool in the eyes of my son and his friends. And being so coooool is very important to little boys.

I would give anything to hug my mother and father again. Strange, isn't it. We don't always appreciate what we have until after it is gone.

Maybe my son will be smarter and more sensitive than I was. Maybe he'll show the world that he just doesn't care whether it's cool or not, and run to his mother and me and give us the hugs we crave.

We'll see.

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