The 2nd of October is the birthday of my first born and only son. He came to us, Vicki and me, 24 years ago with all the circumstance and drama a first baby brings. Dr Ettner brought Zachary into this world at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston after Vicki struggled at home for many, many hours. We had hoped to do it with a mid-wife and have Zach at home, but progress was slow and at some point we had to modify our plan and get to the hospital. Dr Ettner has taken care of my family for 25 years, he helped me comprehend my current diagnosis and has offered his brains and wit to the choices required around this disease. He saw Zach and Vicki and me through a scary fever week when Zach was 2 and got his baby shots while harboring the beginnings of a cold virus. The subsequent fever was high and tight and relentless for more than a week. I don't believe I've ever been more afraid for him or myself. Ever.
Today, of course, he is a vision of youth. All sinew and muscle, beautiful skin, long fingered artistic hands, smart eyes, stunning wit, open smile and youthful gate. He has the temperament and angst of an artist and the intellectual swagger of budding scholar, or at least of someone who did exceedingly well in a challenging school. It was in this most of competitive environments that he learned to trust himself. He learned the value of disciplined effort, he learned how to stretch all his skills and accept challenging outcomes. He did this from his boot straps, because while very smart, his previous specialty was touching the line and moving on. But that was then and he was young, after a year break in school volunteering with Americorp in West Virginia, he returned to school with vigor and respect and he came to find some things out about himself. And he did.
He is 24 today and standing at the threshold of his life with options and opportunity and curiosity and endless potential for doing well for himself and I believe for a world that desperately needs people like he could become. It is from here, a position of strength and potential that character and grace and generosity are put to the test and he has to find his own way to what those words mean and what it means to act on them. He has the ability to reach deep inside himself and it will be from doing that that he defines his life for himself.
For he is not his past or his fine and rare accomplishments. He's today, tomorrow and the day after- he's a future, he's the potential and promise of a life to be lived and shared and have the potential wrung out of it and spread like seed to others.
He's my first born and my only son and because of that carries all the hopes and dreams and unfinished business of a father's love with him.
Happy birthday my son.