Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Which is more, you'll be a Man, my son"

...He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers...
Psalm 1:3

My brother told me a few months before that a few months after I'd be hard pressed to remember what it was like before. He was right. That day changed everything. I'll never be the same...for which I am so very thankful.

I do remember that day clearly though....

I played in a softball game the night before. The process had started, but we didn't tell anyone. (Sometimes the process starts falsely). That morning, I went on to school to teach my summer class. Lisa ran an important errand. After my class & after the errand, she came & picked me up (which will be a rather odd fact in just a minute) and we went to Wendy's to eat.

And then to the hospital, where the process really switched into high gear. Just 2-3 short hours later, it happened. A dream I never imagined being fulfilled was.

I--uncertain & unsettled myself--became the way-too-narrow funnel where legacy met history as James Benton Madaris was born. And I will wonderfully, gloriously, incredibly, blessedly never be the same!

He was a beautiful baby who almost instantly looked like me, bless his heart. (Still does, albeit a much bigger, stronger, smarter, more handsome version of me...) I wasn't able to be in the room when he arrived, but I first saw him immediately after. Whereupon I cashed in decades of man cards by standing there outside the nursery & shedding a million tears of sheer joy. I've done so since then on many occasions. (BTW, if that offends your sense of masculinity, then yours is in incomplete, juvenile masculinity. Just sayin'...)

That day is so clear in my memory that it seems it was just a couple of weeks ago. Then came rocking him to sleep (I had the early morning shift--e.g., he & I watched Charles & Diana's wedding live at like 4:00 a.m....)...and feeding him...and bathing him...and him piddling on my tie as I headed out the door to work...and his deep concern about the feel of the Indiana grass under his feet that next Spring...and walking...and a little sister...and school...and fair projects...the infamous PCS bug collection...driver's license...prom...graduation...dorm move-in...and on it goes, in a dizzying blur of way-too-fast, ever-accelerating time.

(Related aside: Got little ones at your house? Your first priority should be to soak up & revel in time spent holding, singing to, playing with, teaching, & mainly enjoying their young company. Make many memories & cherish them so that you can later chase them as I do so often. For VERY soon, you'll turn around & your nest will be emptying like mine does next month...)

So today my baby boy is 21. 6'2", strong as an ox, very intelligent, disciplined, responsible, funny,...well-liked by his peers. A man of honor, which is sadly in VERY short supply among his generation...and mine. Great strength, yet very gentle & merciful. Pretty consistent in his faith walk. About to start year 2 of a 4-year Doctorate of Pharmacy program at one of the top 5 pharmacy programs in the nation. He'll graduate from undergrad next year (speaking of time racing by!), and will spend the next in Jackson doing a brutal year of clinicals. Then a year of rotations, and he'll be James B. Madaris, Pharm.D. He's a man of consistent character...pretty high-quality character, that is.

Whereas I'm comfy in front of a crowd, he's at his best with one or two or a small group sitting on the porch or around the table. Whereas I'm a business/humanities type, he's a hard-core chemistry/biochemistry/pharmacology type. He tracks with most anything I teach; I can't even spell most of what he takes, let alone understand it. *smile* He has also become quite thoughtful about philosophical sorts of things & political things.

Today, James Madaris turns 21. Some say he is therefore now a man. But I say, he's been a man for a long time. A man who challenges me & inspires me in my own manhood. A man who raises the bar and who keeps the seemingly outdated concept of a high view of manhood alive. I am so proud of who he is and of who he's becoming. The turning of a calendar year is just that. (Example: there are far too many guys who are well past their 21st birthday who are utterly NOT worthy of the titles "man" or "manhood".)

I'm announcing to you today--in case you didn't know--that my son James B. Madaris is a man who is worthy of the highest ideas of the word "man."

James, you are my beloved, treasured you I--one of the more un-worthy dads around--am very well-pleased. Happy Birthday, buddy! I love you more than words can capture.

If (Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,

Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,

And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;

If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!


Gary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary said...

Well written words by a dad that has learned to enjoy the most important things in life. Inspiring words! Thanks for the impact your life has on so many people, but especially on your children.

Stephanie said...

Happy Birthday, James! So proud of who you are!
Thanks, Mike for sharing these words with us today!