When a Son Becomes a Man

TJ Installation with JoelleMy oldest son is twenty-six today.  Happy Birthday T.J.  This day is different from any other birthday because it is the last birthday that he will be our single-son.  At this time next year he will be married and that means something significant.

I cannot write that he will no longer be our son because that is just not correct.  But being married to someone else means just that and when your child is married….well….it is hard to explain; they are no longer ‘just’ yours. 

He and Joelle have been together for a while and she is such a terrific woman, perfect for TJ in so many different aspects.  Moving forward in the not-too-distant-future my son will have another title, husband.  There is a lot to that title and it means that he will be drawn to another and mom and dad take on a different role in his life; as it should be and has been since the beginning of time.

Those who read my articles know that I am extremely proud of my three children and I have shared many times on their uniqueness from each other.

My feelings today are not sad but rather mixed.  I could not be happier for him as he begins his life with Joelle but there is feeling that one feels when you realize that your son is a man and child no more.  As the song states, ” A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home and they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one……” 

While growing up you always know that day will come and I thought I had until the wedding day to feel that way, but it hit me last night.  I started to think about baseball games, and lacrosse games, and just…….everything growing up.

I remember the first time he came home with his face covered and clothes smelling like a burning building from the first fire he fought as a volunteer fireman.  I remember the many times we heard him clumping down the stairs and the blue light of his car flashing as he raced to another fire call.  How I prayed each time he left, was thankful he came home, and how my heart was so full of pride as I knew he ran into the very thing so many ran away from; all to help others.

I remember Tommy.  Tom was such a great friend to TJ who died suddenly from a heart ailment that no one knew existed.  I remember TJ’s many friends that are in the fire department also and from work, and from the neighborhood.  Good friends.

I remember the handful of times that he cried in my arms and I felt so fortunate that I could be there for him.

I remember his sense of humor, his love for animals, and his love for the sports teams he cherishes.

I will continue to pray that he ‘gets the call’ and receives his lifelong dream of entering the New York Police Department.

I know that there are many great things for him and Joelle to share in a life time of building memories.  There will be pain too as life throws things at you and you must deal with them and move on; but the two of them have a great start and foundation from which to build.

My pride in who he is, is only surpassed by my love for him. 

My birthday wish is that you seek the highest, enjoy the present, have health and know that riches are what you make them not what you have, and enjoy your time with the partner you have chosen; she is the best partner you could have–enjoy each other.

Happy 26th Birthday son.  May your life bring you everything you want and ready you for the things you don’t.  Have a great day.  Love always, Dad.

I am not just a diabetes dad.

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Finding Nemo…..Could it Be About a Child with Diabetes?

Nemo MarlinOf course the initial answer would be no.  But if you watch Finding Nemo  again, now that I have asked the question, you might find a great deal of similarities between what we go through as parents and what Marlin (Dad) goes through with Nemo (his son).

One could argue the point that every child and parent will have differences growing up and the strong conflicting desire to be allowed to venture on their own as portrayed in the movie.  This point is true but the geniuses at Pixar led by John Lasseter, the producers of the film, add something that differentiates this movie from being a parent-child movie to a parent-child-with-a-situation-to-deal-with movie. They did not just leave it at a parent-child conflict.

Nemo has a fin that is much smaller than it is supposed to be.  Nemo has a disability.

The over-protective father looks at this son’s fin/disability as an even a more reason that he needs to have a watchful eye on his struggling son, Nemo.  Every move Nemo wants to do is scrutinized by his dad.  Problem is, Nemo doesn’t think he needs as close an eye as his father is giving him.  Sound familiar?

All Nemo wants to do is be like all the other kids (fish); sound familiar?

 Nemo wants to be left alone when it comes to an over-bearing parent; sound familiar?

The move is full of incredible quotes that may sound very familiar:
Dory: Hey there, Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do?
Marlin: No I don’t wanna know.
Dory: [singing] Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.

Marlin: Now, what’s the one thing we have to remember about the ocean?
Nemo: It’s not safe.
Marlin: That’s my boy.

Nigel: No, I know your son. He’s orange and has a gimpy fin on one side.
Marlin: [shouts and jumps] That’s Nemo!

Dory: No. No, you can’t… STOP. Please don’t go away……And-and I look at you, and I… and I’m home. Please… I don’t want that to go away………

The movie is just full of gems that make complete sense especially to parents like us; as we go through our world with diabetes.  But the movie makers could not give a fish diabetes; could they?  That would make no sense.   Once you accept the suspension of disbelief in this fantasy (talking fish,etc); John Lasseter (the head of Pixar) and his incredible team take huge efforts to make their films as real one could expect.  But by giving Nemo a ‘disability’ he accomplishes everything he sets out to do.

Watch the movie again and tell me I am wrong?  I find the parallels to our children living with diabetes and  Finding Nemo extraordinary.

Of course also helping me in this possible scenario/conclusion is the fact that John Lasseter’s son was diagnosed with diabetes in 2001; which would be at about the exact same moment they were working on Finding Nemo………..hmmmmmmmm……coincidence?  What do you think?

I am a diabetes dad.

PS:  Additional Interesting Fact:  My friend John Ratzenberger (Cheers, etc) is the only actor to appear in all of Pixar’s Films.  John Lasseter calls him his good luck charm.  John Ratzenberger has done a great deal of work in the diabetes community as well; he too has a child with Type 1 diabetes.