I am old, and growing older. It is a fact of life that the days ahead are far outnumbered by the days behind.
It seem so fast...
When I married your mother, she already had four children, two each boys and girls. Then came the day she asked if I was ready to be a father again; I was stunned. I was at an age where this wasn't exactly uncommon, but is wasn't common either. I was happy, ecstatic really. I had the chance to be a father again! To help raise a child and teach him everything I knew, had learned over the years!
I was scared to death!
But I soon calmed down, and a brief time in bed following a mild surgery allowed me to make my very first no sew blanket. It was for you, a Winnie the Pooh baby blanket which you still have today. It is in great shape, except for the little burn hole I put in it while walking around Silver Dollar City pushing you in your Jeep stroller. It got caught under a wheel and drug it for a few feet, burning a hole where the wheel contacted it. Sorry about that Son!
We have had some great times together, me being a father to you, and husband to your mother. You are the cement to binds us all together, your siblings, mother and I. You are the tie that binds, the one who holds the very fabric of our lives. You made us more than just a family; you made us the loving group of individuals who are beyond related.
You made us who we are. Thank you.
Oh, your laughter. The giggles and snorts, the laughter which rang through the house as you ran hither and yon. Playing with one or another of your brothers and sisters, each one loving you more than the next. You realize that, don't you? In this family there have been nothing like is common in other families, the younger child following and hanging on to an older sibling, begging to go here or there and being pushed away as bothersome. Never here; every one of your brothers and sisters love you to death, would do anything for you. Take the time to play with you, ask us to take you someplace to get a bite to eat, or to a movie. Sit in the floor and play with you in whatever you wanted to do. No anger, no jealousy, no bitterness or being upset at giving you the time of day. Never once. They love you unconditionally, as you love them unconditionally. I cannot tell you how happy that makes me.
And the gifts! Oh my goodness, the gifts! Still today they buy you things and treat you with such love even after they have set out on their own in the world, working and striving to make their way. All because of the love they feel for you and that you return equally. You all are such a blessing to your mother and I.
And your imagination! The creations you have made over the years, from robots to cars. Films which have inspired you to make things we never would have thought of. Remember the WALL.E you designed and we made together for that Valentine's Day valentine box at school? The winner of the most creative box got a special lunch with the teacher? Who won that!? You did! The WALL.E was spot on perfect, the way you designed it and helped me help you put it together was so very special! And putting the mailbox in his stomach just like the real WALL.E had the area he opened up and put things in was brilliant!
Remember that day we went hunting in our yard? We saw all kinds of things that day! From massive man eating birds to scary monster cats to mosquitoes that wanted to suck our blood dry! Whew, that was one scary day my son!
We've been fishing too. Remember that day you caught twelve catfish, and I only caught one little perch? I couldn't keep up with you! I would bait your hook, you would cast it out, catch one and reel it in. I would help you take it off, bait it again and this went on time and again! I was worn out from not catching anything just helping you catch your fish!
And the day you and your oldest brother and I went to Roaring River to fish. You caught your very first fly fish trout that day, all by yourself. You worked the fly rod, you made the cast, you hooked and reeled in that beautiful Rainbow Trout all by yourself! Even your brother was proud of you!
And that day you caught your first trout in Lake Taneycomo, with your mother and I casting and casting, trying to catch one but you caught the very first one, again all by yourself. It was so beautiful, and when we released it (as you said we should) all we had was a picture and a memory. Then we came across a mounted trout in an antique store that looked just exactly like it! So we bough it and it is still in your room today! Every time I look at it I remember that day.
School days, school days, dear old golden rule days. Oh, the first day of school! I was so sad and happy at the same time! My Lil' Britches was growing up! Has it really been that long? Are you really about to be a junior in High School? Oh my goodness!
I remember the nights at the kitchen table, the tears you cried because you were struggling with some problems. Your mother and I would try to help but our schooling just didn't compare to what you were learning. It seems school today is teaching kids in Elementary School things we learned in college! And the fact that my schooling was so long ago doesn't help anything; it's a good thing your siblings were able to help you with the really tough subjects.
And look at you today: getting an invitation to join the National Honor Society! Would you have thought that while sitting at the table struggling so hard years ago? Can you see how far you've traveled, how hard you've worked, and how smart you are?
I am glad you take after your mother in more than looks! You have her intellect as well! Keep going, Son! There is no limit to where you can go if you want it bad enough!
Remember the trips we've taken? The one day trips like going to Springfield to watch the Cardinals play? Several of the players we've watched there are now in the big leagues, playing baseball professionally. Players like Stephen Piscotty, who now plays for the Oakland A's; Harrison Bader, centerfielder for the big league Cardinals; and we've even seen Matt Carpenter and Yadi Molina in Springfield too! And the manager we met that day is now the manager for the Major League Cardinals! How cool is that!
Then we've taken real vacation trips to places like Crater of Diamonds in Arkansas, trying to find a diamond in the dirt. It was so hot that day, and we didn't find anything but memories. We've floated the Buffalo River, visited Woolaroc in Oklahoma. We've seen the ocean and swam in it; well, you and your sister did. I stayed on the lookout for sharks! We've been to museums and climbed lighthouses; met famous people and walked though Space Camp, where a real Hollywood movie was made. We've been to a major league baseball game between our state's teams and eaten food we shouldn't have eaten.
And we've had many birthday parties where all your siblings came and played with you, earning points and coupons to give to you so you could buy a special something for your birthday. I would sit at the table, acting like a banker giving out coins to those who brought me the tickets so they could go win some more. I loved those days!
It's been sixteen years since you made your entrance into this world. I have made mistakes along the way as a father, but no father ever loved his child any more than I love you. Your mother and I have contests in how much we love you, all in good fun. We love all of our children equally, but you are the last one at home and sometimes, it feels both special and scary at the same time. We are able to focus on you more than any other child because you are the last one in the home; but you are also the Last One In The Home! After you, there are no more!
I love you, Son. I know your mother loves you too. And every one of your brothers and sisters love you. We are all blessed in having you be a part of our lives. I tell you "Thank you for choosing me as your father" and I mean it. I am the most blessed man alive to have you as my son.
Happy Birthday, Son. May you have many many more.