The years pass quickly, don't they? Not long ago I was a boy, you were more blond than gray, and moments that are now pictures in the family album were simply life.
Simply life, and in hindsight, a simple life. My growing up years were simple but rich, largely because of your richness (a look at that same photo album would show that our richness was not financial), and beautiful, largely because of your beauty (again, the photos prove the point).
This afternoon, as my own children ran through the grass and into the sharp corners of everything, I was prompted to ponder my own boyhood. What, of all the hours you lived with me, and all the words you said to me, mattered the most? What from my own boyhood do I want to pass on to my own sons? What will I change in raising my own sons?
"Her children stand and bless her," the writer of Proverbs 31 says of Lady Wisdom. And I bless you, wise lady. I bless you for the many years of wisdom you have given us five kids. But let's get specific.
What you did right
You did so many things right. Here are a handful of things I pray to do as well as you did in raising my sons:
First, you let me be a boy. I am not much for gender stereotypes. But I am also young enough to remember the wildfire in my boyish heart. I see the differences between my daughter and my son, and I know that boys are . . . different. You let that different happen.
I was blessed with an open boyhood—in sheep fields and orchards, in the woods and riverbanks near that shack we lived in up in the Coast Range, and for a few months, even playing in the strangely stocked barn by our house on the Christmas tree farm (remember when the cow from the live Nativity scene chewed up the baby Jesus doll?).1