Much like the band Train, I like to stubbornly return every few years with a new haircut and something insignificant to say to the world. So here is my drivel. Sing along with it on your radio, Mister Misters and Soul Sisters!
Yes, my hiatus is over. My son, the tiny beast fetus that inspired this blog, is basically an adult. He is a two and a half year old, blonde-haired, politically active, conspiracy theorist with a love for purple clothes and cheeseburgers. He loves sun glasses and he thinks that fans are made of pure evil. I love him. I plan on writing about him and other things over the next few forevers, so keep in touch.
I work in hospice.
This statement has never been written in either of my blog columns. I checked. I actually just conducted a Google search to confirm it. The omission is likely due to the fact that I write about birth, and cribs, and babies punching Santa. Hospice seems out of place here.
However, end-of-life care often evokes conversations relevant to my experience as a young father. My professional work is about family, and loyalty, and legacy. These themes transcend context, and occasionally reach far enough to punch this young father right in the mouth. I find myself smacked with the frightening yet liberating reality that I start dying now. The process starts today. The ways in which I work, and love, and serve will influence the legacy I eventually leave behind, as well as the manner in which I leave it. I am reminded each day that the life I live is meaningful, that it has consequences, and that it affects others. It affects my wife, and it affects my son.
On the rare occasion that I am asked to define my role as a hospice worker, I share that my efforts revolve around meaning. I base my care on that which the patient and family have found most meaningful over the course of their lives. Alongside these brave individuals and their families, I engage the mystery of death and affirm life. I validate faith and the commitment of the individual, and support him or her as life closes. Everything we do revolves around that person’s journey. Reconciliation and legacy abound. Heartache is ever-present. A few good laughs are often shared.
I am writing all this to remind myself and others why I began writing about parenthood in the first place. At the end, all we have are stories; Beautiful, sacred stories that bind us and sustain us. Faith, family, and hope are all founded in story, and in death these stories collide.
Today, my stories are joyous, and they are mine forever. Oliver is crawling, smiling, and occasionally raising his eyebrows at ladies in the supermarket. He is awesome. His stories add meaning to my life, and I feel as though I am aware of this now more than ever. Most of all, I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on our relationship now with enriched perspective, rather than later. If not for my job, that perspective would not exist.
So here I am, because of that “terribly depressing job,” anticipating our adventures together with newfound excitement. I look forward to watching Star Wars with Oliver for the first time. I look forward to sharing my faith with him. I even look forward to getting him his own dog, and then watching as he figures out that tails are not leashes.
All this excitement … brought about by that terribly depressing job.
Over the course of my happy and not-so-long life, I have developed a list of food items that I find irresistible, consisting of foods that I have consumed while living and travelling within the U.S. I recently shared this list with Oliver, and he surprisingly responded with "Oh snap, dad. Me too. I have a rich and complex pallet." I have asked him to share some of his favorite foods here, alongside my own. Here they are, in no particular order.
I finally have a camcorder. I think. Is that still what we call a video camera? I feel like the guy who saved all his money to buy a boombox the day after CD players came out. I fully understand that most phones have filming capability, and very few people own video cameras. I do not care. I wanted to film this kid for hours, so I bought a camera.
Unfortunately, my son has decided to stare blankly into the lens at all times. When the camera light goes on, his lights go off. Nobody is home. For whatever reason, the kid just stares. Because of the utter lack of activity, I decided to liven up the video with a little dialogue.
I should have been more clear when I prayed
Stories and Letters
This Dad Blog was originally written as a collection of letters to my child, chronicling my awesomeness and warning of the chaos to come. Now that the child is here, it also includes essays on successes, failures, and lessons learned.
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