Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Boy, The Boy, The Boy! Happy 22nd

Nothing short of the return of Christ could make my mind stop thinking of my son, and his birth 22 years ago today. I'm all but sure that the war can't stop me, presidential debates,hunger and poverty all over the world, ignorance in our schools and communities, the need for greater education, lower taxes, better bridges - no, none of those pressing issues can take the place of the feelings I had and the joy in my heart when I consider what I was doing this hour 22 years ago. I was sweating, I was crying, I was about to rip the head off of anyone and everyone who spoke. I remember the doctor ordering barbecue chicken for lunch while I was busting in pain - and I remember my heart breaking over the fact that my baby would come into the world without a father. Everything negative, everything bad, everything hard left my mind within a nano second of the moment I saw his face.

The Christmas preceding the birth of my son was a good time for watching football, reflecting on the year's events, and preparing for the birth of my baby. There would be very little time after he was born to plan or make plans for his every need. I remember seeing the Philadelphia Eagles playing someone and because he was kneeling down praying with both teams, I couldn't make out exactly who the man on his knees was. I could tell he was a big man. The media made a big deal out of his praying, and his decision to pray with both teams. I suppose the media felt that any one player would choose only to ask for God's Divine help for his own team - this man was more than just a ball player to me. He was a leader and a man of honor. As it turned out the player was Reggie White. I remember holding my round belly and saying out loud to the same God that this man had just finished speaking to on national television (there alone in my little apartment), to make my unborn son EXACTLY like this man Reggie White. I may be delivering this kid without an earthly father, but he would not be without a Heavenly Father.

As I pushed and cried twenty-two years ago today my joy was fully met in the eyes of a little boy no bigger than a box. He couldn't run play routes, he couldn't tackle quarterbacks. He couldn't lift his head - - but he changed my world immediately. You know that song from Creed "With Arms Wide Open"? There's a line in it that says "Well I just heard the news today, it seems my life is going to change." It never occurred to me before his birth that absolutely everything I thought, believed, lived for, or strived for would emphatically change - but change it did. Seeing that face, holding that baby I lost my first name. I was no longer Jude. I had in one second become a completely different person, one I should have realized I had become 9 months prior - I was now forever Mom.

Over the next few years, and usually on March 22, I would have glimpses of what would happen in his life. At the age of three my son wanted me to buy him a little toy tank. I did and look where that led. He's driving them now in the Army. When he was 10 he was given an assignment to pick a hero and when he and everyone else returned from Spring Break he was to be prepared to give a speech about his hero - my son, on his own, without help from me, chose Reggie White who was now playing for the Green Bay Packers. This was a turning point in my son's life and we became Green Bay fans because of it. At 16 I was unable to buy my son a car, on his 18th I was too poor to throw him a party - - my heart fell and I remember crying in my room where I thought I was alone. I rocked back and forth on my bed and I asked God why I had to be so inadequate, why did I have to be so worthless that I couldn't even get my son a present let alone be able to throw him a proper party for the one day he certainly deserved it...I was NOT alone. Two arms wrapped around me that day; two manly strong arms and a softened man's voice called back "Mom, I love you, and you love me, that's enough. You didn't give me up. You didn't give up on me ever. That's enough."

Today my baby boy is 22. Today he is doing something that he never believed he could do. He is not doing what Reggie White did, but he is exactly like him. When he suits up for battle it is not on the gridiron, but he is wearing a uniform. He stands with power, with pride, with honor, and my son is not too proud EVER to kneel and to remember to ask for help - - the word "REUBEN" as I've mentioned before, means "Behold, My Son". Literally, it means LOOK...I have a son! His middle name is Andrew, it means "Manly". I truly have a manly son. I may have given birth 22 years ago to him, but he has given me life indeed.

Of course I love my daughters, and of course I will reflect on their lives as well as they achievements and gains each and every day, not only on their birthdays. There's just something about the first one that changes the scope of living - this time it happened to be my baby boy. My heart, as I call him. My joy. Happy 22nd son, and thank you for being my hero.

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