The countdown is on!
Chris is getting married next Sunday, May 25, 2014. He’s marrying Lindsey Waite, the girl of his dreams.
How is this possible?
As cliché as this sounds – I remember the day Chris was born, cutting his umbilical cord, as clearly as if it just happened last month. That was March 22, 1985.
As the wedding day approaches I have found myself reliving a range of life’s emotions from my minds family photo album. Memories from forever ago are suddenly alive in my heart in the blink of an eye. Every picture has a story.
I remember holding him in my arms when we got home from the hospital. He was so small and tiny, I felt so awkward. He was the first baby I had recalled being around. I was amazed (and terrified) when Leigh actually left the house with me in charge!
I remember the day Chris welcomed Caity home for the first time. As an older brother (13 months to the day), he’s always seemed to maintain the proper balance of both protector and harasser. From the very beginning, he cared for his “Keiki”.
Although “being a parent” is part of Leigh’s DNA, the kids knew it was a mixed bag when I was in charge. On one hand cousin-sleepovers and multiple McDonald’s runs marked mom’s weekends away; on the other hand, there was always concern when I Dad was driving. Living out amongst the cornfields and cow pastures of Monroe Township, we needed to drive a fair distance to run any errands. When Leigh was driving, there was never a problem. As far as the kids knew, that was the natural order of things. When I drove, Chris would quiz me the same way:
“Daddy, do you know where we are going?”
“Nope. I’m just going to follow the cow tails.”
“Daddy, Stop that! Seriously, do you know where you are going?”
Embarrassing Chris has always been naturally easy for me. It started early; as in Kindergarten. At my first Back-to-School Night I went to Mrs. Kerstetter’s room instead of Mrs. Rebberd’s room. Chris was horrified not only that I had made the mistake, but that I have continued to remind him of the incident for years.
At Chris’s first soccer game he broke away with the ball and quickly moved it down the field. I broke down the sidelines with him. With my shoes splattering mud and my tie flapping over my shoulder, I ran in my business suit, “cheering” him on. (Yes, I was that Dad!) He scored! So un-amused by this blatant display of “parental support”, Chris played strictly defense for the rest of his soccer career. Really!
Not all pictures are reminders of disasters. Whether it was his first wrestling championship, the Pinewood Derby, filming wrestling videos with the Bianco boys, or shooting baskets for hours at the Chrome Dome, the backyard half-court basket installed when I was going through cancer, all are distinct memories tugging my heartstrings.
Then things changed. On his first day of 9th grade Chris was abducted – by aliens.
We don’t know what happened; the cheerful, caring Chris we knew just disappeared! Every once in a while there would be a glimmer of the old/young Chris, but that would only last for as long as a “click” of a camera capturing a picture of his beaming smile. Every picture tells a story, but never the complete story!
As Chris headed off to college, I headed for counseling and medication. How does a father ever know if he’s done enough to prepare his son for the world? Looking back I still don’t have an answer for that. I would have been well served to follow my own adage of “just follow the cow tails”.
In 2007 Chris graduated Magna Cum Laude with a dual major from the University of Pittsburgh. After enduring several years of lackluster jobs during the “economic downturn”, Chris realized his cow tails pointed south. He could endure the horrific economy in Ft Lauderdale, Florida as well as he could in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. In May of 2010, with just a lead on a place to stay, the clothes he could fit in his car, and his savings, Chris headed down the road.
Then a miracle happened! Chris met a very special girl. We are certain this triggered the liberation of our son from the alien abductors. By the time we arrived in Ft Lauderdale in December 2010, our boy with the caring spirit and infectious smile had returned. There was no doubt Chris was smitten with Lindsey: He was gentle, caring, and considerate in ways that we hadn’t seen for years.
I don’t know when Chris figured out Lindsey was the one, but we knew right away. Quite frankly it feels that she has always been part of our family. We love and adore her and are thrilled to share our family’s name with her.
Chris and Lindsey’s journey has continued to New Jersey and further blessed our family with a son, Levi Michael, born May 28, 2013. Like his mother, Chris is a natural parent combining limitless compassion, gentle care and enduring character. Now 29, he is first and foremost a father. Nothing fills my heart with joy more than watching him with his family. I cannot be prouder of my son the man, the father, and soon to be the groom.
One of my favorite pictures of Chris is what I call ‘Falling from Heaven.
Here is a picture with Chris playing with Levi.
I no longer presume to give Chris advice. He is wiser, more intelligent and infinitely more compassionate than I can ever be or ever teach. But if my life can somehow serve as an example, I hope it would be, “Keep following your cow tails.” I can’t explain it, but it has somehow worked for me so far. It seems like it’s working for you as well.
Best of wishes with love and hugs to Chris and Lindsey as they make the final preparations. And thank you Lindsey for helping to bring our boy home.