By E. Adam Porter
Editor, News of Sun City Center
It’s August, and around our house that means celebrating two birthdays. My eldest and middle sons both have August birthdays…though more than a few years separate them.
The big guy hit 24 this year. We celebrated on Skype and Facebook, as he’s currently in Korea at the request of the USAF. A few weeks back, we put gifts in the mail, and we were happy to hear they made it in time. Cake will have to wait until he comes home this fall.
The middle guy, who will be eight this year, is a lot closer to home. Last month, his mom and I helped chaperone his Scout Pack’s overnight camping trip to Lowry Park Zoo. The big hit of the trip was the “Dinos Alive!” exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs. That was two days ago, and I can hear Middle Guy right now, just down the hall, pretending to be a dinosaur with his little brother. They’re stomping and growling and roaring for all they’re worth.
Funny thing, though, if I listen hard enough, I can hear their big brother in there with them. At eight years ole, he was also a dino kid, and I can hear the echo of his roar in his little brothers’ voices. Boyhood in stereo reaching across time.
As I sit here, listening to memories, I’m reminded once again what a trickster time can be. It gives us so much, and often takes that and more. This truth might be more than any of us could handle, if those gifts were not so precious.
That same middle kid, who was roaring his loudest down the hall, just ran in and gave his old man a big hug. He’s not really a hugger, so this is something special. “Hug me tighter, daddy,” he asks. “Tight as you can.”
And I do, every chance I get. Eight years old doesn’t last forever. I know if I blink, he’ll be 24, looking me in the eye as his big brother does now.
And I will be just as proud of him as I am of that big brother. Those boys don’t know it yet, but there’s few better gifts a dad can get than a boy who’s now a man grown, who can look him in the eye with the pride that comes from knowing, even just a little bit, what it means to be a man … and being willing to shoulder that responsibility with enthusiasm and confidence.
These past few years I’ve watched the Big Guy make that transformation, and it thrills me to see who he is becoming as he makes his way in the world. Every once in a while, I hear myself coming out of his mouth… I just hope he held onto more of the hits than the misses.
After finishing his tour in Korea, the Big Guy plans a brief visit home. A few short weeks with us this fall, and he will be off again. Before he leaves, I plan to hug his neck, tight as I can. He’ll probably be thinking about making his flight and all the adventures that await him in this new chapter in his life.
I’ll be thinking about those things too… and about how proud I am of him. So, I’ll hug him tighter. He’ll absorb it, tolerating dad, but wondering why. For now, he’ll have to go on wondering. How could I explain … he’d never understand, even if I told him… it’s because of dinosaurs.
PHOTO: Adam with his sons, Christian, Brendan and Sawyer, headed to a Scout meeting during Chris’ last vistit home on leave.