Life's Treasures

It is Erik's birthday.  My oldest son is 32 today.  I could write paragraphs about the impossibility that one's first born is now solidly into his fourth decade, but I won't.  You know without me saying it the mixed feelings that evokes.  Time marches on.  I'll just sum up by saying that the alternative is far worse.

My children's birthdays always take me back to the day they were born.  Erik, being my first born, was endlessly fascinating to me.  He was born at a time when birthing suites did not exist, and rooming in at the hospital had not yet taken hold.  We spent our first few days at the hospital, and we stayed much longer than new families stay in our modern world.  I had days to get used to the idea that this precious package was now my responsibility, and I needed them.  He was born nine days past his due date, and happy as I was that he had finally arrived, I was also terrified.  As a youngest, I had little experience around babies, and none around a newborn.  I can recall gazing at him through the window of the hospital nursery while a nurse approached, gesturing to ask if I wanted to hold him.  "Oh no, no, no!" I gasped.  "He's just fine where he is!"  and then I fled the room.  Of course, this warm-up period could not last forever, and on his fourth day of life, we brought him home to have and to hold for as long as we all would live. 

In his first baby pictures, he appears to be completely bald.  In fact, he always had hair.  It was the most beautiful blond, and when it grew in with more fullness, it took on the appearance of spun gold.  I honestly believed that he was the most beautiful child I'd ever seen.  When I saw him in groups with other children, he seemed literally to glow.  I read The First Twelve Months of Life two months at a time--the current month, and the next month--so that I wouldn't miss a single split-second of his development.  I studied his habits and his movements, transfixed, waiting for him to reach the next milestone and the next and the next.  Every new thing he did left me awed and enchanted.

He brought new ways of speaking about things to us.  "Mashed potatoes" became "smashed" potatoes.  (It makes sense, doesn't it?)  "Soup" became "poop".  "More poop," he would demand.  One day he suggested that his dad put our Chevy Blazer in "way back" four wheel drive, meaning four wheel low, and drive right over the cars that were holding things up ahead of us like the monster trucks do.  We still often consider using the "way back" gear when we're stuck in traffic.  He taught me to slow down and "Look!" as he pointed out little flowers and berries and other bits of flotsam that I might have hustled past as I hurried through my busy days.

He would grow to be a fast runner and to love all sports.  Little by little he would become the person he was meant to be.  He played soccer.  He raised hamsters and fish.  He still enjoys most sports, especially his beloved Oregon State Beavers.  He would combine his and Mae's wedding day with the first Oregon State game of the season two years ago when he wore a black and orange tux for their nuptials.

He looked so handsome and, frankly, he does still appear to glow.  Maybe it's because I'm always looking at him through tears of joy.

He's grown into a person of many interests.  He loves car racing and cars, in general.  He grows tomatoes as if he grew up on a farm, which he didn't.  He's an excellent cook.  He has more friends than anyone I know, and he loves a good game of Frisbee golf.  He loves all sports and recites statistics as well as any host of ESPN.  He has a sense of humor that keeps me laughing and his enthusiasm is infectious.  He works hard at his job and gives an honest day's work.  He is a person I love spending time with, and that I am proud to know.

This morning he and I are meeting for breakfast, and then we're going shopping for new clothes for his birthday.  This evening, we'll all get together at a favorite restaurant to celebrate, and tomorrow he'll officially be another year older.

What more can I say?  I could say a lot, but I won't.  I'll just say Happy Birthday, Erik.  You are the child of my heart.  I'm glad we set aside birthdays each year to remind ourselves how special it is to share a world with the people we love most dearly.

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

Linda said...

Happy birthday to Erik. My oldest was 35 last month, and my youngest, who is also an Eric, turned 25 the day after that! There are three more inbetween.

I'm a labor and delivery nurse, and i see such a difference between then and now. Like you, I stayed 4 days, and my babies were not allowed to stay in my room at all times. Now, you're out the door in 48 hours or less, and rooming-in is strongly encouraged, along with breastfeeding. So much education for us to complete in such a short time, too.

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Wow-he’s a good-looking man, you raised a great one, Barb. Aren’t birthdays fun? Iris was 26 yesterday and we enjoyed the day with her too.

Mommarock said...

I hope he gets to read that post. I don't think I have ever read a more love filled post about a child.. EVER! That was wonderful to read :)

gill said...

Happy Birthday to Erik!
My daughter is 22 today! She was born at home, in the house we are still living in and I can hardly believe it was 22 years ago!

Becky~ said...

Happy Birthday Erik.He looks just like you Barb!Doesnt time fly??
My oldest daughter is near his age.Life goes past quickly when your having fun lol.

Have a great new week!

LynCC said...

Fun to see both pics :) Happy birthday to your son.

Denise :) said...

What a sweet, loving tribute to your son ... I hope he knows how lucky he is to have a mom like you! Happy birthday to him! :)

free indeed said...

What a lovely post. Brought tears to my eyes reading of the deep love you have for Erik. I think I was touched because we all feel that deep love, but how often do we express it especially to that dear one? My oldest turns 32 in two weeks....think I better get started on a little letter of tribute to him :)

Snoodles said...

Your post had me crying. Absolutely lovely and sweet. Awesome that many of us have first-born turning 32 soon, although mine won't til July! Isn't it fun the words and phrases that become a part of your life? My son loved his "flanntel" shirts and riding in our "toy-oh-toe" car! Thanks for sharing today! I think I'll have to drive across town and give my boy a hug.

quiltzyx said...

Happy Birthday Erik!
I think your Mom likes you a bit, what do you think?
Hope you both had a wonderful time finding your new, um, 'birthday suit'! heehee! And have a fabulous evening celebrating. :D

Sand and Sunshine said...

They grow up so fast!!!