Archive for the ‘Wondering About The Future’ Category

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A Letter to Cole (On His First Birthday)

January 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Coleman!!!

There are a lot of birthdays that fill up a lifetime, but few are as historic as your first. Coleman is going to have a birthday party on Sunday where he is going to receive all kinds of presents from all the people who love him. I’ll try to restrain myself, but you can probably guess how successful that venture will be.

However, in addition to the plastic “Fisher Pricey” thing he’ll get from me, I wanted to give him something else—something from the heart. I’ve decided to give him a letter; filled with my idea of how the talents and gifts that are already evident, and innately his will bless him as he grows to be a man—Just a father’s look into the future of his precious little boy on his first birthday.

Dear Coleman,

It’s hard for me to believe that it has already been a year. In some ways it seems like just yesterday I came home from the hospital at 6:00 am, all bleary eyed from being up 24 hours straight. I’ll never forget that morning and how no matter how hard I tried, the thought of getting back to you and your Mom kept me from getting any real sleep at all.

On the other hand, I don’t think I can remember life without you. It’s kind of like “The Three Musketeers.” I’m sure there was a time before they got together, but no one ever writes about it. You’ve completed this family in ways you’ll only understand when you yourself are a Dad.

At the hospital, you were the best thing since sliced bread—even the nurses thought so. They all went on and on about how handsome you were. Then before Mom and I could tell them thank you, they’d reply that they really meant it. One nurse even cornered me in the hall and couldn’t stop gushing about how you may have been the best look baby she had ever seen.

From the very start it was easy for people to tell that you were different from the crowd, and that’s only been reinforced to me over every one of the past 365 days. This letter is filled with some of the things I’ve seen in your little spirit that I hope you keep every day of your life.

Your birth was a miracle and every one knows it. When I showed your picture to my Physiatrist (Quadriplegic Doctor) she told me how happy she was that we were able to adopt. I told her that you weren’t adopted, and that you were my flesh and blood. She was flabbergasted (and freaked out a little bit) as she ran down the hallway telling everyone she saw that you were my genetic child—no one could believe it. So, I went down the hallway after her telling everyone that it was true. Miracles happen my son. Every breath you take is a testament to that. If you ever wonder if there’s a God, or if he hears and answers prayers, stop for a moment, get real quiet, listen to your heartbeat, and you’ll have your answer.

From the first day we brought you home you have had this happy attitude about you. You seem to have a smile for everyone. People love to be around you little Coleman J. Much of this comes from that happy attitude. When people meet you they always tell me what a happy little guy you are—keep that attitude it will bless you always.

Inside you there is a little spark of exaltation and intensity that can serve you well. I love to watch you take a toy in your hand, or get behind your big “standing toys” and shake the tar out of them. You do it with real passion. It’s evident when you bang your hand on the side of my bed or the way you become a whirling dervish in the bathtub. If you carry that same passion and exuberance into your life, you’ll always end up with success.

Man, can you pay attention. In the beginning it was the wall next to your changing table and the fans throughout the house, That turned into a fixation with cameras (which made it a little difficult to take your picture, but Mom worked it out) and now it’s everyone and everything. Never stop watching the world or the people in it. Never miss an opportunity to help another, or cost yourself the chance to do some good by losing your fascination with all that lives and breathes around you.

You have been blessed with a pace and patience that has already impacted me. When Mom and I talked to others about what it was going to be like to try to help you while being in a wheelchair, everyone said that I’d be fine—the only hard part would be my inability to help you because you would wriggle your body and arch your back right out of my arms. But that never happened. From the very beginning you’ve been calm and patient on my lap. It allowed me to feed you, burp you, and even carry you around on my lap. You just sit there. Take life at your pace. Never be in too much of a hurry. If you will, you will savor each year of your life the way I’ve enjoyed this first one with you.

You have a special love for everyone. You’ve always gone to others easily, never had a problem staying the night away from home, and have kisses for all. Give your love freely in the same way you share your little wave hello—plenty for everyone. If you will, you’ll be happier and the Savior will be proud. Remember the words Jesus spoke when he said, “As I have loved you, love one another.”

It didn’t take you long to figure out that you can always count on your Mom. She loves you so much and it’s easy to see you feel the same. I love the sweet relationship the two of you share. You can count on her for anything and everything. Talk to her throughout your life as much as you have “Jibber Jabbered” to her in this first year. You’ll meet a lot of special people in your adventures, but never one you’ll be able to count like your good sweet Mom.

From the first time I held you in my arms, I could feel the power of your spirit. More than once I’ve wondered how such a gigantic spirit fit into such a tiny body. But, more than anything, I’ve felt the closeness you have to your Heavenly Father. No matter how many birthdays pass by, never lose that special relationship with Him. He knows you and loves you and will do so today, tomorrow and forever. He’s never more than a prayer away.

Finally, always remember the three things I’ve told you every day of this first year

I Love You,
Your Heavenly Father Loves You,
And You’re a Good Boy.

Love,

Dad

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Over The River…

December 11, 2009

I grew up a very lucky boy-luckier than I ever knew.  First, I had two of the best Grandmas in the wide world.  They were caring and kind and in their own way each second mothers.  Second, I was one of the few little guys who not only had the chance to grow up with all their grandparents alive, but we also all lived in the same city.

This meant lots of one on one Grandma time.  It was definitely something I loved, but it was also something I just assumed everyone experienced.

My memory is flooded with images of games we played, stories they told, and a bevy of experiences.

Me & My Grandma Hall

I can still see my Grandma Hall in the back yard peeling apples as she watched us play and every so often yelling out, “Apple peels for sale! Apple peels for sale!”  She loved kids.  When the whole extended family got together Grandpa stayed upstairs with the adults, while Grandma headed into the basement with the kids.  She spent hours teaching us how to be good people and about what was right and wrong for good kids to do.  She had a passion for family, and an addiction to Lawrence Welk (OK maybe not an addiction, but when you are a kid, a little of that goes a long way.) She was always up for a walk to “Chow Now “ for swirl cones, and never forgot to bring apples and carrots for the horses we would pass on the way.  She’d take us to “The Fun Spot” (a TINY little amusement park in Boise) and every Disney movie from “Snow White” to “The Fox and He Hound” at the Vista Theaters. She loved everybody—whether you knew it or not Florence Hall loved you (Florence—she even had the perfect Grandma name.)

"Grams" visiting me after my car accident

Grandma Ashby, or “Grams” (pronounced “grah-mz”) was just as good.  She worked at a bakery.  Not like a corner market bakery, it was like a plant.  Every time we went there she took us in the back to show us off to her co-workers.  I loved it—watching all those huge machines make thousands of loaves of bread, and the bread itself on giant conveyer belts that snaked all over the place from the ground to the ceiling.  The tour always ended with some treat of our choosing—she could make you feel like a king.  Her house always felt like home too.  Whether it was playing pool, walking to “Winstead Park,” drinking all the Shasta we wanted or playing cards, you always felt good when Grams was around.

These two women have shaped my life in more ways than I can count.  Regardless of the fact that Grandma Hall died when I was just eight, and Grams passed away just a few years ago, they have been there through the good and the bad, to help me find my way.

Last Wednesday, Kolette left for the Dominican Republic to visit her folks for a short week. Coleman and I stayed behind, so that meant Cole was going to be staying at Grandma Hall’s.  I decided to join them and took my work up to Park City every day.

Coleman with Grandma Hall

What I saw was nothing short of magical.  With that much one on one time the two were putting their own little relationship together.  Watching them made me think of Kolette’s mom “Grandma Judy.”  Coleman’s spent many a night there and those two have their own special bond.

Cole with Grandma Judy

It was like looking in a mirror. They both do now all the things I’m sure my Grandmas did for me at that age.  I watch as they teach him how to do new tricks and what things are good and what things aren’t.

More than anything, it made me excited—excited to see the little things that end up to be their special traditions.

What I do know is this.  Cole, like me, is luckier than most to have two Grandmas close (most of the time) who love him like their own.

I know like me, that as Coleman grows up, he is going to look for every chance to go “Over the river, and through the woods”

Jh-

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My First Father’s Day

June 21, 2009
My dad "lifted me up" even in my earliest days.

My dad "lifted me up" even in my earliest days.

After living for 38 years (being married nearly 17 of them) today is my very first Father’s Day. On the 27th of January little Coleman became a part of my life. I can, without any doubt or the least bit of reservation say that, other than my faith, and my marriage to Kolette, his birth is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

Last night, as I laid in my bed thinking about this first Father’s Day of mine, I began to reflect on my own father and the impact he’s had on my life.

Throughout my entire life I have always only had one hero; and that has been my dad.

He is the ultimate motivator. He believes in you no matter what. Even if you’re unsure your ready to believe in yourself–he believes in you. He’s the ultimate optimist. He never sees the glass half empty. In fact I believe that if you were to show him a glass with just a little condensation inside he would find a way to tell you that it’s half-full, and do it with such passion that at the end of the conversation you’d be sure that he was right.

He loves people, and because he does, people love him. There’s some people in this world that others just take to. They just have a certain way about them. People who meet my dad love him–I’m not even sure they can always tell you why, but they do love him.

He’s a man with conviction, who is rich in spirituality, and carries with him a deep love for his Savior.

As I reflected on all the ways that my dad has been there for me and influenced who I am, I began to have and increased desire to have that same kind of influence and provide the same kind of safety to Coleman.

I don’t know I have it in me. I have enormous shoes to fill. I don’t know if I can be the same kind of man that my dad is. But, I’m not sure it matters.

Because, what I do know is this. I want to follow my dad’s example. I want to give everything I have to my son. I want to inspire him for good. I want to motivate him to be his best, and I want to believe in him even when he might not believe in himself.

grandpa hall

Grandpa Hall

At the end of the night what I realized, is that Coleman is a very lucky boy. Not so much because of the father he ended up with. But for the example his grandfather set for his  father.

I love you Coleman. Everything I have is yours. Thanks for making June 21st 2009 a day I will never forget.

Jh-

Me & My Boy

Me & My Boy

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Heroes

January 7, 2009

Growing up it seemed like at least once a school year every teacher assigned us to write a paper about our hero. It could be anyone that we looked up to. No matter the grade, as soon as the project was assigned the room would become a buzz of excitement and intrigue. Everyone would begin talking about the person they would write about that year.

As you might imagine, in earlier grades students heroes were far more general in description. Doctors, nurses, firemen and ballerinas were the protagonists of the papers. Many times not for any reason other than the fact that a first grader wanted some day be the profession they chose as their hero.

As the years passed the heroes became grossly much more specific. NFL quarterbacks, movie and TV stars, CEOs, and fashion models begin to become the topics of the assignment. They weren’t referred to now by profession as much as they were by name. For example, their heroes weren’t so much NFL quarterbacks in general as much as they were Roger Staubach or Terry Bradshaw specifically.

It wasn’t long after that my classmates became interested in music. All of a sudden everyone’s hero was the front man for their favorite band. I remember as a 7th grader when the teacher went through the papers 90% of the kids said their hero was either Eddie Van Halen (guitarist for Van Halen) or Valerie Bertinelli (the woman married to Eddie Van Halen). It was obviously a big year for Van Halen.

I always received this assignment little differently. For me, this was the easiest assignment of the year. I knew who my hero was and I knew exactly what I admired about him. There was never much to think about, for in my life although I have had many people I’ve looked up to, I’ve only had one hero–my dad.

From the first grade all the way through junior high I would simply put together a new paper on Stephen J. Hall. I don’t ever remember a time in my life when he wasn’t the man I wanted to be. I have always known that my life would be a success if it simply resembled his.

As I wait now for this little boy to come in my life, I can only hope that he feels in some way the same way I feel about my father. I don’t need to be his only hero. There are plenty of good examples out there for him to want to model his life after. I do however hope that he looks at the life I have lived with integrity and pride.

It’s interesting, as his birth gets closer and closer I find that I don’t much care if he looks at me and sees a man of wealth, or a life filled with distinctions and honors. But, I do hope that he sees me as richly blessed. I hope he looks at my life and sees one lived with distinction and filled with honor.

I hope that I can live my life in such a way that Cole will look to me as a good man; a righteous man. I hope that he will see in me a man who is kind and thinks of others. I hope that he will want to treat the young women he associates with properly because of the way he’s seen me treat his mother. I hope that he’ll want to work hard because he’s seen me put 100% into anything I try to do.

More than anything I hope that I can set the example for my son that my father set for me.

Jh-

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Cheerios and Quiet Books

January 4, 2009

In church this past Sunday, we sat nearby a father doing his best to keep his rambunctious kid in line while the sermon was being given. I watched and couldn’t believe the chaos. Kids always have a healthy level of activity during services, but the action coming from this family’s pew seemed more than normal. Not only that, but the child just didn’t look right.

It wasn’t the regular disheveled look where you could see that things had once been put together and the child had simply wriggled out of his Sunday combo. Something was off. His pants seemed to tight, his shirt was too loose, and his hair was far from it’s regular “bouncin’ and behavin’.” In fact, his hair looked kind of like his Dad’s–all slicked back, with a perfect part.

It was then that I realized what was different. The mother was home sick. All of the sudden I was enthralled with the show that unfolded before me. The dad struggled to keep his little boy in tow. He was juggling baggies filled with Cheerios and so-called “Quiet Books” working to keep the congregation’s attention off his little boy and on the pulpit.

His kid was having nothing of it. It was as if this mouse knew full well that the cat was away and he was going to relish every moment. The boy was all over the place. It became clear that his endgame was escape from his father’s clutches and he seemed exceedingly good at accomplishing his goal. I watched as he wiggled out of his dad’s arms and made more than one break for freedom. The only time the father seemed ahead of the game is when his son would make his break for the aisle and the dad would put his leg down blocking the route at the last second.

In mid-chuckle, watching the comedy unfurl before me, I realized in the coming months that could be me. My mood changed from frivolity to fear as I watched and wondered how I would deal with the same situation.

I wondered how I would handle a Sabbath “sick day.” I wondered how I (who have to have assistance getting dressed in the morning myself) would help my boy to get ready for church. I wondered if there was a word to describe something between disheveled and disrobed.

The fathers “go to’s” were closed Ziploc bags of Cheerios and “Quiet Books” that were filled with buttons, snaps, and zippers which, because I can’t move my hands, are all of my league–and they seemed to be the only things keeping this dad in the game.

I pictured Cole making his break for freedom and since I can’t use my leg as a blockade, I wondered if he would be two or three blocks away before I actually caught him.

I’m sure it will be an adventure. There’s not much in life that isn’t. I’m sure there will be Sundays when Kolette won’t feel well and Cole and I will be on our own, what I’m not exactly sure of is how it’ll all work out.

Maybe they make Sunday clothes for kids that use Velcro instead of buttons, snaps, or zippers–I can handle Velcro. Maybe I can hang a “feed bag” of Cheerios off the side of my chair, and when Coleman is good he can just stick his head in the bag. Maybe iPhone has a “Quiet Book” app. Who knows? But, I have to admit that that’s part of what I’m excited to figure out.

Let’s just pray Kolette doesn’t get sick that often.

Jh-