Friday, October 28, 2011
Jack, thank you for...
Your honesty. You did not lie to us. You did not sneak around. A mom we’ve never met told us how at baseball camp this summer you were trying to get her son out at second, and the ump called him out. But you told the ump that no, you hadn’t quite tagged him. Your honesty and integrity gave us great optimism for your future, because you firmly had our trust.
Your willingness to dumpster dive. Thanks for all the times you helped lift old broken furniture from the curb into the car for one of my many projects. I remember when I had you jump out of the car on the way to school to pick up a weird horse head thing that turned out to be solid marble and super heavy!
Snuggling. During the lice fiasco of 4th grade, when I was going psycho and didn’t want to put my head near anyone else’s pillows, you pointed out that I was becoming a tad obsessed and that it was cutting down on our family’s closeness. Thank you for that wisdom-- wisdom that led to several more years of snuggle time.
Your generosity of spirit. You were happy for other people's joy and success and celebrated with them. I remember how happy you were when Margaret won an American Girl Doll at a toy store. I would have been all up in my mom's business about why I couldn't get something of equal value. You just smiled and celebrated with her.
Not badgering. When you asked us for something and we said no, you accepted that. You accepted that the reason you couldn’t play the same video games your friends could was because we loved you and we thought Grand Theft Auto and those other games were trashy. Your lack of badgering made us want to work with you and give you more privileges. Win-Win.
Accepting, if not embracing, my cheapness. I love the way you came home from school on the last afternoon of your life and said, “Mom, did you buy all my binders at the thrift store again this year?” When I admitted I had, instead of getting mad, you just asked if we could maybe wash off the .69 written in grease pencil on all the covers so everyone wouldn't have to know about it.
Obeying your parents. I remember the Saturday before the accident, when you stayed up late with your cousin in the basement. It was time for lights-out and you asked if you could finish the ½ hour show you were watching. You had seen the first ½ of the episode about 4 times and wanted to see the end. I said no, and you turned it off. Your cousin finished it for you both when he was here for your memorial service one week later.
Forgiving Us. You forgave us our parenting mistakes, again and again. Whether it was our accidentally catching your chubby little baby tummy in the zipper of your footy pajamas, or coming down way too hard on you for things that were really OUR ISSUES, not yours, you forgave us.
Forgiving others. You didn’t hold grudges. When neighborhood spats occurred, and someone or other would yell, “I’m never playing with you again!” I would have written them off. But not you; you always gave it another shot.
Bettering yourself. Whether it was doing 100 sit-ups and push-ups a night trying to finally ace that damn Physical Fitness Test, learning to show patience and flexibility during neighborhood games, or practicing your baseball fielding with Dad in the yard, you worked to better yourself.
Your empathy. When you were very young, you worried A LOT about my dear friend Cynthia. You said, “How is she ever going to find someone to marry if she works in an old folks home?” When she (finally!) did get married, you were ecstatic. You prayed that she would be able to have babies and were so relieved when she did.
Your gentleness. You did not yell at me. As a kid who yelled at her parents a lot, I really appreciated that.
Never wearing a muscle shirt. Okay, there was one that time in 4-year-old Vacation Bible School, but that was mandatory.
Talking to us. Even though you were quieter at home than at school, you were great to talk to, especially at bedtime. You asked mature, thoughtful questions. Sometimes you would say in the dark, “Um, I have another word to ask you about.” I loved that you could do that without being embarrassed. The night before you died you were trying to understand a friendship that was changing. Thank you for talking to me about it.
Liking things that we could stand behind. Thank you for discussing houses and Shakespeare with me and the Yankees and books with Dad. I have a feeling you were a rare 4 year old for being into Origami and word games. Thanks for being obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and Legos. I know if you had been into Pokemon, Bakugon, and Super Heroes we would have developed a taste for them, too, but I’m glad we never had to.
Your faith in God.
Making us laugh. You and your sister kept us entertained every day. I would have loved for you 2 to have the chance to make each other laugh as grown-ups.
Never blaming. You must have gotten this trait from your dad, not me. I could drop a can of corn on my foot and look around for someone else to blame. And now, I want to blame everyone and everything for what has happened to you, but that’s meaningless, and it's not what you would have done. So, even in this time of pain, yours is the example I want to follow.
There is so much more to thank you for, Jack. Like every family, we had good times and bad, but the good FAR outweighed the bad. I am reluctant to post this, because it is such a small representation of what made you special.
I am thankful to God for giving me an intelligent, quirky, gentle, strong-willed, respectful son to love. And that love will not end.