I apologize for the length of this post, but I do hope you make it through and enjoy it.
My last post was on collecting moments, and it seemed appropriate today to reflect and share some of those with you all. Today would have been my brother Rodney’s 50th birthday. But, instead of sadness and melancholy, I have spent the day, so far, celebrating his memory and the relationships I have with family and friends. So, I thought I’d share with you in hopes that you also find cause to celebrate today and to reflect on good memories and good times.
I have been very, very fortunate to have grown up in a loving family. My parents loved us and each other and my brothers were not only my relation but my friends. As we grew up and developed our own lives and families we still had that inner call to come home and spend time with family. The simple fact is we enjoy being together, even when things are rough, and, as I have remarked more than once, it feels good to be sad to leave, because that means we love each other. Each of our families have expanded and grown, and yet, that feeling has carried through from generation to generation. Similarly, I have been blessed to find two friends, my coauthors, who have become brothers to me as well. While not biologically related, our shared experiences and love for each other has drawn us as close as I have been to both Rodney and Roger. I will save some of my memories about Rog and other family and friends for another time, but wanted to put this paragraph in because, my one regret with Rodney is that I never really told him how much I loved him, appreciated him and respected him. It was the culmination of several missed opportunities and I resolved after that to not miss future opportunities. So, Sharon, Rog, Gary, Jay, Mom, and Dad, I love and appreciate you all and want you to know you have all been influential in my being the person I am today. I am a better person because you all are in my life, and I just wanted you all to know that.
Anyway, as I said earlier, Rod would have been 50 today. He and I didn’t really talk frequently after I had moved out of the local area. This was before cell phones and email and it was pretty expensive, plus, with a new baby, new job and new location I was so self-involved in trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life that I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to others. I am not proud of this, but it is true. Frankly, I was a little concerned coming home for Roger’s wedding. I was afraid that I had changed so much after joining the Air Force that I wouldn’t have a lot to talk to Rod and Rog about. However, Rod quickly put that fear to rest. I’ll never forget his first words to me when we arrived. He looked at me, grinned that little smart-alec grin of his and said “Nice haircut!” and we picked up pretty much as we had left off, cutting up, laughing with each other, catching up, and celebrating both the wedding and the new nephew.
As the years went on, we moved back to the East Coast and were able to travel home a little more frequently. There were several moments that still stand out to me. A key one happened over one of the Christmas holidays. Mom had gotten a Coca Cola puzzle and Rod and I started to work on it one afternoon. As we started, the snow started to blow in and it became a huge winter storm that basically snowed us in, which meant that Rod wasn’t heading home and that we weren’t going anywhere, so we got started talking and joking around, all the while working on the puzzle. About 11pm everyone else went to bed, but we were still at it…not really saying anything particularly deep or relevant, just enjoying each other’s company. By 1am we realized that we were both too obsessive to leave it unfinished, particularly since we had gotten a large portion of it finished, so we laughed about that, opened up some Mountain Dew and settled in. We finally finished the puzzle at about 4am. We were both tired, but happy. It was the first time in a long time that we worked on a project together without trying to compete and just enjoying the time together. It made me realize that competitiveness is a great trait, but it can get in the way of relationships sometimes and it opened up a whole new dimension of friendship to me, because I could choose not to compete, but just to enjoy the moment.
When Scott was in college, I had the opportunity to come out for the weekend for a business trip and Scott and I drove over to visit Mom, Dad and Rod. We caught up with Rodney at church on Sunday and we all went to lunch together before heading back to his house to watch some football. Rod had just recently gotten involved in fantasy football and we spent the afternoon talking about our teams, our players and watching the Bears-Falcons game. During the course of the conversation, talk turned to work, hobbies, quizzing, computers, and ultimately, comic books and collectibles. Rod introduced me to a couple of new comic books and then dug out several odds and ends he had picked up, including a collection of miniature football jerseys from a Taco Bell promotion and a Winnie the Pooh statue of him tapping his head entitled “Think, think, think”, which now sits on my desk most days. It was one of the magical times that I just hung out with Rodney and with Scott as friends, not as a brother and father, but just a bunch of guys, sitting around enjoying the moment.
Anyway, Rod, I love you, I miss you and I look forward to reuniting with you. 2011 was 6 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday you were here. I am truly a better man for having had you in my life. Happy Birthday and thanks for the moments! I will treasure them forever.