I was living in Louisiana when I became pregnant with my first child. A month and a half before he was due, we moved back to Michigan in time to deliver a healthy baby boy on this date 38 years ago. After some difficult months of adjusting to my new status of mother, my poor little guinea pig finally began to thrive. His personality developed quickly, and I soon found myself the lucky recipient of one of the most joyful, pleasant, and funniest of beings.
I think the only time this kid cried, once he became a toddler, then a child and so on, was when he was hurt either emotionally (the ending of An Incredible Journey), or physically (Marco! Polo!). To say he had a pleasant disposition is an understatement. Sure, he got frustrated. Naturally, he got angry (he was a teenager). But if I search my memory, I can only think of a handful of times it happened, and he was always willing to talk things through.
Is he a typical ‘oldest’? I’d say yes. From little up, he has had a likeable spirit that could draw friends to him like bears to honey. He has a great work ethic and is a natural leader. He actually saved his little sister’s life more than once, though she hates to admit it. And he has always had the most incredible sense of fun, invariably able to make me laugh even when I didn’t want to. With his kind and generous heart, he can make you feel like you matter, even from a thousand miles away. His high school sweetheart turned wife and mother is the perfect match for him; he refers to her as a ‘joke ninja’. Their three children haven’t fallen far from the tree in terms of personality and silliness. As a family, they warm this mother’s heart.
I have a picture of him in my mind, about five or six years old. It is picture day in kindergarten. I dress him in suspenders, and he wants to wear a tie for the photo. He is the spitting image of Opie from Mayberry. He is lined up with his fellow classmates for their school picture, and he melts my heart. In another, he is playing right field at the ripe old age of seven. His deep purple cap is too big for his head. He has no clue what’s going on. But he’s having the time of his life tossing his cap in the air and chasing it down. I was videotaping him at the time, and the camera is shaking, up and down, while silent tears of laughter are running down my cheeks.
I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at his graduation. I said it then, and I’ll say it now.
“You have given me more joy and more laughter than many get in a lifetime, and I feel so lucky to have you in my life.”
Happy birthday, Andrew. I love you.