January 20, 2008

Yesterday's Son

The other evening when I returned home from work, I entered our kitchen to greet my wife and kids. My son remained in our den, consumed by a video game. It’s a rare treat for him to use the Game Cube as we severely limit playing time. I peered at him from the open serve-through and joked, pretending that I am his grandfather and he is my grandson.

“Hey, where’s your dad? I’ve got a few things to say to him.” I said in a gravelly, old man’s tone.

He barely twitched, still engrossed by “Lego Star Wars”.

“Um Dad? You’re my dad,” he said with his characteristic aplomb. He’s used to my teasing, pretending to be an alien, speaking in a made up language, and just plain acting silly. All of that in an effort to make my kids laugh.

Not satisfied with his response, I goaded him some more. “Hey you, in the den; you meet any cute girls lately?”

That was enough to make him lose his focus. For any eight-year-old boy is still in the “girls are stupid” phase, merely talking about girls is enough to cause static in his brain, let alone asking him if they’re cute.

Oh dad, you made me mess up.” He stopped short, set the game on “pause” and then came into the kitchen to say hello.

That little scene, that vignette of pretending to be a grandfather, gave me a chill. I thought about it that night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep. With any luck, one day I would be a grandpa with a young boy or girl running around our home for a visit, I thought. But that is only a wish, not a plan. As much as we’d like to believe we could arrange the future, we really can’t.

My mind took me back to my own childhood where I, much like everyone else with dreams of growing up and starting a family, would lie in bed at night and imagine what it would be like to be married and have children. Well, it happened. I’m as far away from myself as a boy as I could be both physically and mentally, but the memory persists of the yearning I had to be a happy husband and father.

Somehow I made it. There were no clear-cut steps to becoming a family man. I sort of grew into the mold. The collective mass of scenes which shaped my life from childhood, through my teenage years, to young adulthood, amazingly resulted in me meeting the woman of my dreams and falling in love. That alone is worth celebrating; and, loving her was the easy part. For her to love me back was the surprise.

As far as a plan is concerned, there isn’t one. There is no destiny. All of the life insurance policies, wills, and healthcare proxies in the world are based on performance expectations. We’re supposed to live a long time. We should make a living, put money aside, and prepare for our survivors’ upkeep after we’re gone. The only eventuality is that we’re going to die. In fact, we’re dead already.

Look at the night sky and take in all of the stars, which burned out billions of years ago. Each one is a record of the past, as is our own sun which we view as it was roughly eight minutes ago. There is never a moment when we know what is happening to our very own star. We are always observing the world by the light of a star in the rear view mirror with nothing to guide us but our memories. In a sense, we are walking backwards through life, the eye we possess focused on what we leave behind as we pray that there is terrain where we place our feet next.

I’d like to cast a line to the child in my memories, myself as a young boy, and reel him close and tell him that he did well. He married a gorgeous woman and has two really great kids and he’ll mature into a happy man.

We are not in control of anything. We merely handle ourselves as though we have a vision, or that there is a destiny we search for. The moment I finish typing this piece I’m in store for nothing but the anticipation that I’ll draw another breath. I’ll stand up, go downstairs and eat dinner with that family I imagined over thirty years ago and was fortunate enough to have. Grandchildren? Hopefully, one day an old man will pull me aside when I not expecting it, and whisper in my ear “You did well.”

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Mike French said...

Mike, you often make me laugh and here you make me want to cry.

"I’d like to cast a line to the child in my memories, myself as a young boy, and reel him close and tell him that he did well."

Great emotive writing. Not over done, just enough to touch the reader.

You are the kind of writer that you feel as you read, "I can trust this person, I want to see where he takes me."

Now then enough of that. Lego star wars is great. Do you want to be Han Solo Mike and I'll be Luke?

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Mike,
Han Solo, Hands Down! My son is a Star Wars fanatic, so I'll have to take a few "Solo" lessons, haha. Thanks for the kind words, Mike. I wrote this piece while I was in a reflective mood. I've had some frantic moments in the last two weks or so with family taken ill, and with work being so busy. Things have calmed down at my job, but I have to beg and borrow time to write and visit my friend's blogs, your's included. I'll talk to you soon, buddy. -Mike2.

Kristyn said...

It's been far too long. Your reflection had the affect of causing me to reflect upon my own childhood, a good time in my life, and remember all the things I hoped and dreamed for when I was young. I haven't quite met those wants and goals completely, and reading your entry has put me back on a track I hadn't even known I was off of! Funny how one can affect the other.

Very best,

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kristyn,
Glad to see you back. Yes, I sometimes find that reading an article or book, etc, can make me realize something has been bothering me and I didn't know it. I hope that makes sense to you. Still, it's good to have you back, and I am happy I inspired you. -Mike.

Swubird said...

Mr. Grudge:

Nice little story. Let me tell you, I am an old man, and you did well. Let me tell you something else, life is very short. Congratulations on making it this far.

Have a great day.

Kathy said...

Mike, as always, your stories make me smile and think long and hard. Although I'm not a parent myself, your stories about change, growth and fate apply to anyone, with children or not. As for my own destiny, I think I finally discovered it in writing. What it's done for me is immeasurable. Thanks for another thought-provoking story. You're the best.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Swubird,
Thank you very much for your kind comment. it means a lot when someone takes the time to read what I write. I appreciate your return visit as well. I look forward to more stories of your own such as your last post I read about the day your teachers though you had Polio. That was a touching and educational post. Once again, Thanks. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kathy,
You are a fine writer, as you convey emotion and make others laugh while doing so. Writing is a destiny, in a way. For me, writing is a huge part of my life, and i am defined by that simple word which is "writer." Thank you so much for visiting here and for being a good blogging friend. That post made me reflect on a lot of things myself, and a tenuous connection such a blogging me has allowed me to communicate with wonderful folks like you and share my craft. We are writers, Kathy. That is something. -Mike.

AntiBarbie said...

Your stories always have the nack to make me reflect upon my own life. You did a wonderful job with this one. It was really touching.

It's funny how different our lives turn out from what we dream of as children.

I always said when I was little that I didn't ever want kids, I was going to be an artist and live in a beach house with a pet tiger.

So needless to say, that didn't quite pan out...

Andrew Ruth said...

You have a knack for writing things that relate to my present happenings in a very fundamental way.... Always a pleasure to read your stuff.

I've finally made it back to the blog world, and it's nice to read your work again...oh, and I made it to New York too :)

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Dawnie (AntiBarbie),
Thank you so much for your kind words about my writing. I appreciate them more than you know. Having kids is wonderful isn't it? The way you write about yourself, I can see that you a caring and loving mom. You can still be an artist, have a house one day at the beack...yet the tiger thing may not be too col with the kiddies around. You see, being a writer, artist, or even musician is all a state of mind. I am a writer because I call myself one. This blog is merely an affirmation of that. You have a blog, you write well, and you have talent. you are an artist. Go ahead and create. It took me a long time, but I learned to live and to enjoy myself, and not to let labels and my past bring me down. I'm speaking only for myself in that last sentence. I wish you well, and I can count you among my blogging friends as I like to associate myself with creative folks. Thanks again for your kind comment. I'll see you over at AntiBarbie. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

You're back! How cool is it that you are in New York? Did you get run over by a taxi yet? Thanks for the nice words about my little piece here. I hope you're blogging again. I needed more "White Room." Let me know how things are going here in the Empire State. -Mike.

Anna said...

Mike you getting ahead of yourself, however, if it worked when you dreamed of marriage, then grandfather is around the corner, lol. Just kidding, you got still many years to go if your son is only eight. Great post, really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing, Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Mike, you take me away to a different place, very nice and again I totally can relate, I too am very lucky and appreciate what I have. Oh and Lego Star Wars rocks!

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Anna,
Hehe I am getting ahead of myself. BTW, speaking of marriage, none of this means anything because I don't do anything unless my wife says it's okay first...so destiny be damned. I'll be a grandfather if she let's me live that long. lol. (Kidding!) Thanks so much for the comment, Anna. I'm glad you enjoyed reading this piece. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Bob,
Thank you so much for your comment. In reading your blog, as creative and informative as it is, you seem like a man who is content and happy. It is inspiring to me that folks with such creativity and knowledge visit my blog and read my posts. Thank you. Oh, and my son is obsessed with Star Wars. We don't let the kids play video games often, but when he does he dives for the Star Wars Lego. hehe. Thanks again, Bob. -Mike.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful piece...again! Well done Mike. Surely makes you think. I do agree with you. "We are not in control of anything"...love this. I always feel I am in control. I feel like my actions dictate the outcome. My greatest fear is the lack of control. Yet, you are right. Ultimately we aren't.
BTW I'm back :-) Sorry for the delay. I'll send you a line later in the week. Take care.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi JD,
I was waiting nervously for you to weigh in on this piece, lol. I'm glad you liked it. I'll see you over at the new and improved "Uneasy Supplicant." -Mike.

PD Warrior said...

Mr. Grudge,

As a first time visitor to this site, I must say I enjoyed it extremely. I have often gazed at my own children, remembering what it was like for me at their age, only to realize my children are living the exact same life that I did.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi PD Warrior,
Welcome to my humble,little blog. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my story. You sound like a happy father and I am glad you enjoyed reading my piece. I will check out your site too. Once again, thanks for reading. -Mike.

Lisa McGlaun said...


I remember playing with my dolls and imagining the family I would have. I wanted 2 boys and 2 girls. I did that..plus one..lol.

Great story and reflections on life.

Best Wishes,

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Lisa,
Wow, five kids? I thought I was tired after running around after two rug rats. My mom and dad raised six of us. But I couldn't so that. I'm glad you liked this piece. I wrote it recently as I am at a turning point in my life with two kids getting older, my mom's recent death still looms over our lives, and my father is in ill health. I needed to take stock of where I was an how lucky I am. Thanks for reading and for sharing your comment. -Mike.