29 years ago today, I held my only son in my arms for the first time. He was such a beautiful baby. I know that is the motherly thing to say, but it was true. He was a big boy and loved to be held and sung to while he took his bottle. He would make little humming sounds while he ate, like he was singing his own little comforting song. His sister loved him at first sight and wanted to take him home immediately. She didn’t understand why we couldn’t go home from the hospital for a day or two, so she hit me in the stomach and cried. After some explaining, she said she would be waiting for him at home. She and my mother and father were indeed waiting for us at our house when we arrived with our little bundle of joy two days later and she jumped right in to help take care of her baby brother.
He was always a contented, happy child, and entertained himself easily. The love for his family was immense. When he was 3 years old, I became “Kanga” and he became “Roo”. That was important to him, so per his request, the name change was made. All these years later, the names are still hanging around. His first desire of an occupation when he grew up was to be a turtle. He loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Donatello was his favorite (the purple masked guy!). He would look for them whenever we would drive through town in hopes he could catch a glimpse of the turtles in their famed turtle van.
As he grew, he developed a love for pro-wrestling and Monday and Thursday nights became “a must” to watch WWE, TNA, and such. It was a big deal to subscribe to a pay-per-view event….you know Wrestlemania and others…..and order pizza to accompany the entertainment. There were a few times he tried to put me, his sister, his dad, his papaw, his best friend, or anyone else that looked like decent prey, in the figure-four. If you don’t know what the figure-four is, you have missed out for sure. Our basement was the place he and his best friend would wrestle from one end to the other mimicking the pro-wrestlers of the day. Neither would give up or give in, but they both had a respect for each other so no one was hurt; just lots of fun.
As a teenager, he became quite the athlete. He would tackle a challenge in sports like it was dependent on life and death and would persevere. He became the 5th leading scorer in basketball in the history of his high school, and that still stands today, and went on to play college basketball, earn a bachelors degree in Social Work, a masters degree in Social Work with a special certification in School Social Work, and is presently working on a 2nd masters degree in school counseling. His love of football, particularly Pittsburgh Steelers, and basketball, Louisville Cardinals, extended to adulthood and still enjoys watching the occasional wrestling match and attending games of Cincinnati Reds baseball and Xavier basketball teams.
He has chosen well with his girlfriend as she is a beautiful lady with a gracious, wonderful, Christian heart. They are a great compliment to each other and our family is very blessed because of her. He has shared his love of sports and life, in general, with her and she has unselfishly embraced his passions, including his love for finding something else to add to his collection of memorabilia for his man-cave. She has learned a lot about football and wrestling, (she already knew about basketball because she played, herself, in high school) and is a willing audience to the televised events. I think the next feat is to get her to build her own fantasy football team!
He spends his days helping children and their families succeed together in the educational arena as a School Social Worker in the elementary school where he is employed, continuing his education, and maintaining the home he has purchased. In addition, he sets a wonderful example for his niece as to what a man should be. He loves her as if she was his own child and the love from her is reciprocated. Although they are miles apart, they see each other as much as possible and spend every minute playing and interacting, that goes on for days, and that is a true description of their personal time together. He facetimes her every night before bed to spend a few minutes with her and for them to exchange “love you….nite, nite”! What a special bond they have. He always did place his family as a priority, even when he was a little boy, and still does today. His grandparents, paternal and maternal, were a constant in his life and although they have passed on, the reminders are embedded. There is a continuance of ambitions and goals established years ago that was encouraged especially by his Pa, who was his strongest and most influential mentor.
It makes me very proud that he is a responsible, hardworking, honest and trustworthy, Christian man. Fiercely independent and passionate about his beliefs, he only expects from others what he is willing to give himself. Standards are set high, including morals, appreciation of self, compassion, love, and care for others. However, there is no tolerance for those that try to use, abuse, or take advantage of another or of a self-serving situation. He encourages and praises the honest and does not ignore the circumstances of the dishonest. I would say those are some upstanding traits. He is a person I can trust, and I do not trust many people, and even though we might not always agree on everything, and shouldn’t, he would never betray me. God is the center of his life and all decisions are guided by his faith. One day he will be a husband, a father, a grandfather. And I have no doubt he will be the same wonderful man he has been as a brother, uncle, friend, companion, grandson and son.
I don’t hold him in my arms anymore and sing to him while he takes his bottle, but I will always hold him in my arms and hug him while my heart sings with joy for the man he has become. God has truly blessed me with my only son.
Happy Birthday, Roo…….Love, Kanga
I’ll see you on the flip side………