Twenty seven years ago today, on a warm and sunny day, my wife called me at work and told me to get my ass home. She was about to have a baby, our second. A few hours later, around six o’clock PM if I remember correctly, Nicholas was born. From that point on, the world would be a better place.
Nick was born with a twinkle that has never left his dark eyes, like two stars that glow and shine in defiance of the otherwise black and empty void. When he smiles, those stars ignite and light up the entire universe. From the beginning, he inherited the warmth and likeability that made my father, Nick’s grandfather, so unique.
From the beginning, he also had to endure the burden of being the most like his old man. It was bad enough that he had to look like me, even worse was that he seemed to think like me, sharing the same interest in sports and music, and the same sense of humor. I always felt proud when people would point to him and say, “He’s just like you.” So proud that I bought into it, that I believed it.
It turns out that I was wrong.
Nick is better than me.
It’s taken some time, too long, really, for me to see this. It should have been obvious. But that’s me – I can be slow and dimwitted. For too long, because Nick was “just like me,” I projected my own insecurities and weaknesses onto him, bluntly pointing out “mistakes” he was making. I thought I was questioning decisions he’d made, but it’s really not a question when you insist that you already know the answer. I regret my judgmental nature, and recognize that however much he is or isn’t like me, the journey he is on is his own, and only he alone can chart his course into the great unknown.
Now Nick is a full grown man, and on this, his twenty seventh birthday, I want to celebrate how much he isn’t like me, and how proud he makes me, and how much I love him.