To My Son:
As moms we have ways of marking time, beginnings and ends, which may or may not have anything to do with a calendar.
Whenever I hear the song “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” time passes before my eyes. I see you change from…
A bold preschooler belting notes off key in front of his class complete with hand chorography.
A brave grade school tenor standing on a riser surrounded by classmates.
A bashful high school baritone towering over me in the church pew and singing quietly hoping not to be noticed.
You are all of these boys, the same, and yet not. Every day you are older, new, different.
As we come to the beginning of a new school year, I am acutely aware of the passing of time. I am another year closer to the time when you no longer live with us full time.
The cliché is true: time goes so fast.
When you were little, I had a frame in your room that said, “Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings.” I took that saying to heart believing it was my sole responsibility to give you and your brother deep roots so you both could one day soar into your futures. That frame sits now on your brother’s bookshelf. Every time see the frame, I am reminded of my sacred responsibility.
To live out my responsibility I try to protect, to guide you through the ups and downs of life. This is how I love best. Today, you fight my protection and guidance. Deep down, I know you crave freedom from me, but I cannot stop being your mom. I cannot stop trying to create and weave the roots below you.
Last year I took you to Alaska to celebrate your transition into high school. It was a wonderful few days together. Remember?
On one of our hikes we saw a tree on the side of glacial stream reaching 100 feet in the air. The ground was blanketed with a web of roots holding this mammoth tree to the side of the mountain with what seemed very little depth of ground.
I sat reflecting on this root web holding this mammoth tree up in these extreme conditions while you hiked on. I began to think about the web of roots I have built for you. Faith, family, tradition, and love are all apart of your web. It isn’t just the web I have built for you. You are rooted on those who came before.
You see, I come from a long line of survivors. My great-great grandfather fought in the Civil War and marched from Minnesota to meet Sherman’s Army in the Deep South with only one pair of shoes. There wasn’t much left of his shoes when he returned home years later. He and his fellow soldiers walked thousands of miles with shoes in tatters. Can you imagine?
My great-great grandmother kept the farm running for the four years her husband fought to keep these United States united. Running a farm in the 1860s was not an easy task. There was no giving up or complaining. They had worked too hard to immigrate here and buy their land. The land was lasting, she figured. It is still there today.
My grandfather fought in World War II. He woke in the trench one morning with a bomb near his head that had not detonated. All he could do was thank the Lord he made it through another night. He survived five beach landings and liberated two concentration camps. He saw things that were unimaginable.
My roots are woven with survivors who chose to make the best out of their lot in life. They didn’t complain and got the job done. My roots are full of loyalty to God, family and country. These are the roots that support me, and therefore you too. My roots are strengthened even more by the toughness your dad contributes from his line descendants.
So, every time you face a challenge, every time you ask yourself if you are enough, every time you wonder if you have what it takes to soar, you can rest assured that the foundation below you is sturdy. You have rugged roots extensive enough to soar into your future, 100 feet high or more. Whenever you fall, your roots are enough to steady you once again so you can soar over and over again.
Dream Big. Soar High.