The sky was filled with gray clouds on my walk again this morning, but my thoughts were filled with sunshine - my Sunshine Boy, that is, which is what I call Tommy because he's been lighting up my life since the day he was born...23 years ago today.
I remember the first time I held him in my arms and gazed into his blue eyes that seemed unbelievably old and wise - any doubts I might have had that God existed were swept away. I don't understand how anyone can experience the birth of a baby and not have every single doubt that God exists erased from their heart and mind.
Becoming a mother was the most life-changing event I've ever experienced and watching Tommy (and my other babies) grow has been the most rewarding. Being a mother colors every aspect of my life - it is my main job, my central responsibility. That's a miracle in itself, considering I was seriously lukewarm about babies until my biological alarm clock went off and I HAD TO HAVE A BABY!
Tommy's was the first diaper I ever changed! Somehow he has managed to shoulder the brunt of my sometimes-suffocating motherly love, although I know it was tough on him. ("I know you love me, mom. It overwhelms me sometimes!") Now he resorts to teasing me about it.
His memory, creativity and imagination have always amazed me, from the stories he made up when he was little, the pictures he drew, the pretend games he played. He is such a gifted artist, too, although he doesn't think he's as good as he really is. He's a perfectionist and gets impatient with himself.
I wish he had time for his art now, but his grown-up life keeps him too busy. I wish he had time for reading, too - from the time he could sit still, I read to him, three books a night. That's how we disciplined him - he'd get a book taken away for each infraction. One day I had to take all three and he cried, "Please, Mama, spank me or something, but please read to me."
(Ah, those were magic words to my ears.)
When he was five, he asked me to read Tolkien's The Hobbit to him. I didn't think he'd stay interested beyond the first chapter, but he did. Just a few years later he read the Lord of the Rings trilogy himself.
I am so grateful Tommy shares my sense of humor, laughing at the same silly stuff I do. It was a happy day for me when he was old enough to watch Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail. He's also one of those people who can remember the funniest lines of a movie and say them back in a perfect imitation - he can make me laugh by quoting one or two words. Now when we get together, he shows me funny videos on the computer.
One of the best things about Tommy is his heart, his compassion. I have zillions of pictures of him, but these are two of my favorites. He was just six. We were at a family reunion. He spotted this elderly woman lying on a cot and asked me who she was. "Aunt Bertha," I told him. She was my grandfather's sister, and I didn't really know her.
Not long after that, I spotted him sitting by her side, chatting away, patting her arm. He didn't know her, but it didn't matter. She was old, too old to get up and talk to anyone, and she was family, so instead of playing outside, Tommy sat beside her to keep her company.
He's always been thoughtful like that...caring and considerate. When Daniel graduated from high school and was preparing to head off to UT, Tommy presented him with a spiral notebook filled with advice, telling Daniel all about the mistakes he had made, what he should have done differently. He periodically calls both Daniel and TG on their cell phones to check on them, a wise confidante and friend they can turn to, who understands what they're going through.
It's hard to describe the warm feeling I get knowing he cares enough to check on them, to let them know he's available if they need him. There was this time I remember back when he was in high school - he was mad, told me he didn't like me because I was punishing him for something, I can't remember what. I told him that was okay, that I didn't always like him, either, and that I loved him so much that I didn't care if he liked me or not - I was mostly concerned with making sure he grew up to be the kind of person that I could like and be friends with.
I hope he had a happy birthday today. It's been years since I was with him on his birthday - first he was away at college, now he's off in Dallas working. I mailed his card, left him a message and sent him an email.
I wonder if he can feel my hug?