I became a father for the first time on May 29, 1985 when my son, Thomas, was born. At that moment I was given all of the essentials of happiness. After a long night of labor for my wife, he came into this world early in the morning. Once the nurses cleaned him up and wrapped him in a blanket then I had my first experience as a father. I carried him across the room to his weary mother and placed him in her arms. I’m not sure who was happier. Carol was emotionally and physically drained from the long labor but she perked right up when she got her first look at her little boy with hair so long it needed to be cut immediately. She cried a little but mostly I could see that she was very happy to be holding this little bundle of joy. I got my chance a little while later when she finally went to sleep. I will never forget how it felt to see the miracle of life and the realization that this little guy was mine to keep.
Having a son is like hitting a home run. All real men want sons. That’s not to say we don’t love our daughters but we have a huge need to leave a mark on the world with a son. Thomas was the first grandson in my immediate family and eventually the only one with the Horst family name. Calling my Dad to give him the news was one of the greatest moments we ever shared. After 10 years of granddaughters he finally had his boy and he couldn’t have been happier. As much as I loved Thomas, I think my Dad was even more attached. That connection grew even stronger when just 3 weeks later Carol’s Dad died suddenly. He would have loved Thomas just as much, if he had lived, but we never got that chance.
My early parenting days were filled with uncertainty. I had no clue what I was doing with a child. All I knew was this kid was smarter than I was and I wasn’t going to be able to get away with anything around him. He started talking so young and so well that people constantly stopped us to ask how old he was and when we told them he was just 2 they didn’t believe us. I will never forget the time I came home from work and sat down with him to watch TV. A commercial was on for a huge building block set and he wanted it bad. The price was a little outside of the annual toy budget so I proceeded to deliver a lecture on the value of money, hard work and economics. At the end I asked him what he could do to help around the house so that we could afford to buy this set. He sat up straight, looked me in the eye and said, “I will help you load it in the car at the store.” I couldn’t keep myself from laughing when I realized I had just been had.
When Thomas started preschool he came home each day filled with new ideas. This was the late 80’s and Mrs. Reagan’s “Just say no” campaign was in high gear. Every time I went for a beer I got a lecture on the evils of drugs and alcohol. It got so bad I had to stick my head inside the fridge and guzzle the whole beer so he wouldn’t see me drinking. Needless to say, my friendships from college took a major hit at this time. I just couldn’t take a chance on Thomas turning into Carrie Nation when we got together.
Thomas was only 8 and my daughter was 4 when I found out I had cancer. I think I survived because I loved them both so much and I wanted to be there for them for many more years. “Something to do, something to love and something to hope for” gave me every reason I needed to live. Happiness can overcome just about any difficulty but you have to be happy for the right reasons. Money and stuff are poor substitutes for real happiness. The joy that children bring to a family cannot be counted. It’s now 17 years later and my children are all grown up but I’m still an active participant in their lives. As we celebrate Father’s Day this month, I really don’t expect anything in return for my efforts. The happiness I have always received from my children is worth more than any gift. I hope all fathers feel the same way.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.