It’s amazing how much you forget. Chandler is eighteen years old and about to walk across a lawn and receive a high school diploma. I’m trying to remember when he was 3, and 4, and 5, and 6…. These are whole years gone by so rapidly as to leave only a blur in my memory. What did we do? I know we spent a lot of time together during those years. Those are some of the best years for parenting, especially for Dads. Dads haven’t gotten to be dorky yet. I must have taught him how to ride a bicycle. I don’t remember his first time up on his own (it didn’t take long, I’m sure; he’s so coordinated), but I can remember hours of riding behind him watching him zip and whiz all over town — his helmet bobbing up and down, side to side, through back alleys, dirt roads, and roads I didn’t even know were there.
His big sister got him into the water (threw him in, actually). His big brother and sister taught him how to surf. He taught himself how to skateboard. There were trips to the hospital, and for one I stayed overnight in his hospital room with him, listening to machines beeping and whirring with my mind replaying how he could have gotten hit on his bike, and where was I?
There was camping in the back yard, and camping at camps. Boat trips to Catalina. Road trips to the Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree National Park. Fishing trips. Indian Guide trips. We slept on an aircraft carrier; we slept on the center field grass at Angels Stadium.
And then somewhere in there it became no longer cool to be with Dad. That’s okay. I knew my time would be fading rapidly, and others would take my place — my role becoming less and less about time together, more and more about time to provide what he would need to get through school.
Then there was the trauma of sending him away, and the mutual work of bringing him back, and the reality of finding out what we learned and what we still need to learn, but haven’t yet.
But when I see him this evening reaching out his hand to receive the rewards of his efforts and persistence, will I see any of this? No, I can’t possibly do that. I will just see a very good-looking young man heading into the world with his own insights, his own philosophy, his own faith, his own reasoning, his own plans, and his own sense of what it is he is here to do. And believe me, Chandler gets all the credit; and God gets all the praise. (And all of you get thanks for your prayers, and by the way, don’t stop!)