A Very Happy Father’s Day

As Father’s Day approached this year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My oldest son works so much, and when he isn’t working, he’s usually hanging out with his friends. My youngest son hasn’t been here in a couple months, and when I have gone to pick him up, I end up coming home without him. So, if I am being 100% honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d see them this weekend (despite the fact that it was Father’s Day).

So last week, my oldest called and said he wanted to get together. I suggested we go to breakfast or that I could make breakfast for them. He liked the idea and called me again on Saturday. There was a classic car show at one of the county parks, and he suggested we go there. I loved the idea.

So Sunday morning, I ran up to the store to grab some bacon and sausage. By 9:30, when they arrived, I had the meat all fried up, toast in the toaster, and eggs ready to go. We sat and enjoyed breakfast together and we were on the road by 10:30. I had packed the stroller in the car the night before, so all I needed to worry about was packing a diaper bag.

It was a lot hotter than I thought it was going to be Sunday, but we stayed in the shade as much as we could. We walked around and got to see some amazing cars. There was a 1902 Oldsmobile that was taking people for rides throughout the park. One of the funniest things was when my son asked me about this big rubber bulb on one of the cars. He had no idea that it was the horn!

He laughed when I told him! Then we started to notice them on all the older cars. We saw Ford Model A’s, Ford Model T’s, some classic old Buicks and so much more. My oldest loves old cars and it was amazing to hear him spout off the year, make and model as we approached them. There were also a variety of old police cars, army jeeps, and some really unique vehicles there.

There was a car that my son had seen at a car show a couple years ago and he got all excited. “Dad! That’s an upside down van … and it drives like that!” It was actually cool to look at, but even cooler to see driving around!

I wish I had gotten a picture of the inside of that!

It’s always cool to see cars done up to look like famous cars. The General Lee wasn’t there, but Ella got to meet Herbie the Love Bug!

There’s a paddle boat (The Genesee Belle) that usually runs during the summer. It is not running this year yet, because it has to undergo a bunch of inspections. The gal inside the boat told us that because of Covid, and the boat not running, it needed some extra looking over. We were, however, able to go up on the boat and look over the lake.

It was almost noon when we stopped by the boat, and I could see that despite drinking lots of water, Ella was starting to get hot. We had already bought tickets to ride the train at noon, so we decided that we’d do the train ride and head back home. The steam engine wasn’t running this weekend, so a diesel engine pulled all the passengers.

The train cars are all about 100 years old. They have all been refurbished and are quite comfortable. They all have the old wooden framed windows that can occasionally fall down for no reason. We had hoped to ride in an open air car, but they were all full by the time we got to the train. We sat in the car with the windows open.

The train goes about 10 miles an hour and the cars kinda rock back and forth. Since we were close to Ella’s nap time, it was no surprise that she fell asleep on me during the ride. Not even the loud whistle of the train woke her up. It is always fun to hear the engineer tell stories of the train while you are riding. The railroad got it’s name (Huckleberry Railroad) because the story goes that the people riding the train could jump off one of the front cars, pick some huckleberries to snack on, and still be able to jump back on one of the end cars of the train.

When we got back to the depot, we stopped for a few more photo opportunities and left to grab lunch and head home.

When we got back home, Ella was still tired and went down for a nap. I spent some time talking to my sons about the classes my oldest is going to take in college and the golf lessons that my youngest is taking. It was nice to have some quality time and conversation with them. Ella woke up just before the boys had to head to dinner with their mom. Sam woke up for work before they left and made sure that I got pictures of me and the boys and me and all of the kids.

When Sam left for work, it was just me and Ella. We may have over did it a bit as she was running a little fever. So I snuggled up with her on the couch and we watched cartoons together. Before putting her to bed, I grabbed the new book that I got from her for Father’s Day and read it to her…

I absolutely love this book. So simple, yet so meaningful. “My dad love me!” Yes, sweetheart. He does. Very much!

The last book I read to her is another favorite.

I feel like I have been reading her this book forever! It never gets old. As a matter of fact, it means more every time I read it. This is such a short story, but it expresses the love of a parent for their child so perfectly. Here is the entire book without pictures:

I’m sure my sons would think I’m nuts if I read this to them today! I mean they are both cool teenagers now, right?! But this book really sums up how I feel about all of my children, the three who are here and the one that is one the way!

What a truly amazing Father’s Day. I thank God for blessing me with these wonderful children and I pray every day that I can be the Dad that they need me to be. I love them all “as big as the world!”

Emotional Day

It is still a year away, but it is becoming very real, very quickly.

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Last month, on the last day of school, my oldest called me and proudly announced, “I’m a senior, dad!”  It’s not like I didn’t think this time was coming, I knew it was.  I knew when I held him as a newborn baby that time was going to go quickly.  Life already moves quickly, and they say that when you have children, it moves a whole lot faster!  I would definitely agree!

First steps.  First words.  First day of pre-school.  First day of kindergarten.  First holiday program.  First day riding the bus.  First day of middle school.  First day of high school.  First band concert.  First awards ceremony.  How quickly these firsts fly by.  Next year, we begin to see the Last first day of school, the last final exams, and eventually, the last last day of school.

Today, we took my son, Dante’ out to have some senior pictures taken.  Times have certainly changed from when I had mine done. 31 years ago, they had the photographer set up in one of rooms in the school.  You made an appointment.  You got dressed up in a suit and tie and they put you in some ridiculous poses.  For those in sports, they may have posed with a football or basketball.  I had my trumpet with me in one pose.  They allowed you (for a fee) to pose with a friend.  I know that I have pictures with my friend Steve and Margaret.  You had to pose for one generic head shot (which would ultimately be your yearbook picture).  Most of the other poses were just awkward.  I have this one of me with the suit coat in my hand and over my shoulder – it looks so stupid!!

Our friend Amy came out and shot his pictures.  Prior to the shoot she was clear that the way we would get authentic pictures was to make sure he was dressed comfortably.  In other words, if he was not a suit and tie guy, then don’t force him to wear it.  She wanted to know his interests so we could get some shots of him being natural and relaxed.  We sort of mapped out a tentative plan and did as much as we could (knowing that he would probably get to a point where he’d be burned out).

Dante’ and his friends from school love old cars.  He has always amazed me as we drive around town.  He can point to a classic and give me the year, make and model of the car.  He loves them.  He’d been asking to go to a classic car show this summer and today, they had one in Flushing.  It was going on while I was on the air, so Sam met Amy and they took some shots near some of the cars of his choosing.  They also got some good pictures in the park where the car show was held.

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He also loves video games and arcades.  There was one in the mall near us, so that was the next stop.  Sadly, it was much different from the one that we had been at before.  Perhaps there were new owners, I don’t know, but it was more geared toward younger children.  I met the group at the mall after work and we looked at the rest of the agenda.  It was extremely hot and humid and we could see he was getting tired.

There is a park near us that has a creek, a bridge, and a trail.  We decided to go there and see what kind of pictures we could get there.  Dimitri had been out in the sun all day on Thursday and was still nursing a bad sunburn, so Sam took him home and I continued with Dante’.  We took quite a few shots there and I am excited to see them.

We walked down one of the trails and were looking for more opportunities for pictures.  Dante’ was walking ahead of me and I had a flashback.  One day the entire family was walking the trail by our old house.  He and Dimitri were walking in front of me holding hands (the picture is probably on my Facebook somewhere).  It was autumn, and the leaves were changing.  I told Dante’ that the trail reminded me of that.  Without hesitation, Amy told me and Dante’ to walk ahead of her and just talk.  For 5 minutes, I just walked and talked with my son.  Welling up with emotion, I put my arm around him and he did the same to me.  Amy snapped some pictures of us, and I am pretty excited to see them.  It was a very special moment.

There was talk of going to Crossroads Village and Downtown Flint, but it was obvious that he was getting close to being done.  Crossroads is a very special place for him because of his love for trains, and the fact that when he was 4, my mom spent the day with him at the Day Out With Thomas the Tank Engine.  Downtown Flint would have been cool because there are so many cool photo opportunities.  Knowing that he was running on empty, we came back to the house.

At the house, Amy wanted to get some shots of him playing video games.  This was important to him.  He loves gaming and his senior pictures should show that.  Amy’s daughter, Skyler, made a very cool sign that was in the shots with his video games that read:  “High School – Game Over!” The sign sat next to a stack of his favorite games.

Dimitri wanted a picture of the two of them back to back playing games, so she made sure to get that one for him.  She then had the boys sit on the side porch in the rocking chairs and just talk to each other.  Nothing forced.  Just casual conversation between two brothers.  I am sure that these pictures will be awesome!

Finally, we had Dante’ standing on the front porch and we hoped to get some shots there.  I think we got one.  In a very bizarre weather change, in a matter of seconds, the wind picked up, there was a clap of thunder, and the clouds opened up and the rain came pouring down.  Dante’ went in the house and Sam and I stood on the porch chatting with Amy.  That was the end of the shoot and it went better than I expected.

Dante’ thanked Sam and gave her a hug thanking her for a fun day.  He had been so worked up about getting the pictures done.  I am guessing he probably thought it would mean him sitting and posing like they did for me.  His photo shoot, however, was a fun day looking at classic cars, going to the park, and gaming on camera.  He thanked me too, and every bit of the emotions hit me.  My voice cracked as I told him that I still couldn’t believe he was a senior.  He looked me in the eye and said, “Are you crying, dad?!”  Yes.  Yes, I was.

I went in the house and stood in the window looking at my senior with tears in my eyes.  There was the little boy who I sang to sleep each night with Dean Martin songs.  There was the boy who waved to me from the bus window on one of many first days of school.  There was the boy who was nonverbal and pointed at pictures to tell us what he wanted to eat.  There was the boy who stood close to the TV mesmerized by the “Blue Shadows” scene in The Three Amigos.  There was the boy who sang “Elmo’s World” with grandma as they watched Sesame Street.  There was the boy I coached with his baseball team.  There was the boy who played my trumpet in his first band concert.  There was the boy who I rushed to the hospital after his tonsillectomy because his stitches broke.  There was the boy who I cheered for when he learned to ride his bike without training wheels.  Each of those things brought dad to tears.  Now here is dad, crying again.  Where that boy stood – now stands a young man who towers over his dad.  That young man is about to experience the fastest school year of his life.

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I am sure that there are many more tears that will flow in the coming months.  I can’t help it. I will cry when I see the pictures that were taken today. I will cry at awards ceremonies.  I will cry at his commencement ceremony.  I will cry at his graduation party.  Those tears are mixed with sadness, joy, and pride.  This is a transition for him.  It signifies the end of school and childhood, and the beginning of adulthood.  After graduation, he plans to go to college and maybe do something with logistics, although he still occasionally talks about working with trains.  His future is bright and I will be cheering him on until I breathe my last breath.

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I will do the same for his brother.  He’s got 6 more years before he is a senior, but rest assured, I will shed tears of joy for him in the coming years, too!  I can only imagine the wonderful things he will be doing in the years ahead, and I look forward to praising him for all of his accomplishments!  He will continue to grow up quickly, just like his brother.  In 6 years, I am guessing I will be looking out a window through tears at him, too, recounting his milestones and memories.  It’s what dad’s do.

Pass the Kleenex – it’s gonna be a long year!

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