Friday, February 11, 2011


Just a couple of weeks ago, the sun was rising to the south of the Victorian mansion due east of us across our backyard. I noticed this morning that the sun has moved a few notches further north and is now rising just on the south edge of the house, reminding me again of the infinite motion of the universe.

We had another vivid reminder today of the swift passage of time. Warren's son, David, turns 21 tomorrow, and we were addressing birthday cards to put in today's mail.

Warren was at a loss. "I don't know what to write," he said.

I looked at him, only to see unshed tears in his eyes. "I  don't know what to say. I haven't seen a lot of him in the last several years…and I just don't know."

We were both quiet for a moment. Then Warren blinked hard and finished signing the cards.

After I mailed them this morning, I found my thoughts turning to David, my stepson of now two plus years. I still find it improbable that I have a stepson at all, let alone the one I am blessed to have. And now he is turning 21.

Time flies. Time races.

I have known David for much of his life; I've seen him grow up. When he was a middle school student and I was still practicing law, he interviewed me as part of the requirements for a Boy Scout merit badge. I turned the tables and interviewed him when he finished his questions. David gamely went along with it, but I can only imagine he left that interview thinking "man, was that weird."

When Warren began divorce proceedings, David was a junior in high school. Because of the machinations of his then spouse and the gross neglect of the magistrate (long since removed from her position), he barely saw his children during the two years of proceedings. He missed almost all of the events that made up David's final high school months, including his becoming an Eagle Scout. There was a long, painful interlude where Warren had no children.

David was on the verge of leaving for college by the time the divorce was final, and now the emotional distance was joined by a geographical one. It was a time of a new start for him, a time of picking up pieces and starting all over again for his father.

For a long time, David flitted in and out of our lives on an erratic and intermittent basis. He would be funny and sarcastic and bombastic. He loved making provocative, in-your-face statements about his world views. "All mankind is evil and should be bombed!" When he talked, I imagined his words scrolling by in boldface 48 point type with exclamation points used liberally.

We would see him for five minutes here, an hour there, and then he would blow back out the door and out of our lives again. Warren would sigh and reflect that he hardly knew his son, hardly knew what to say to him.

But time moves swiftly and brings changes to us all.

In recent months, David has been stopping by more frequently and staying longer. He is still funny and sarcastic. But he is less swift to voice an outrageous opinion just for the sake of causing a stir. He will sit for long periods talking seriously about his studies, about his life, about topics of mutual interest with his father. When they made Hyer peanut brittle this Christmas, it was a joy to watch them work together in concert, each knowing the other's rhythms.

The teen has turned into a young adult, and the young adult is turning into a man.

A week ago tonight, David came by the Symphony office where we were participating in the downtown First Friday events. I was busy talking with those stopping in, so did not join David and Warren as they visited. When he left, David - my husband's son, my stepson - gave me a long, sweet hug.

My marriage has been a long string of gifts, starting with Warren. Two of those blessings have been his children. Under the circumstances, I didn't know whether they would accept me in their dad's life, let alone let me enter theirs. 

I am blessed beyond measure on all counts.

I have a stepson, David, who is 21 tomorrow. Happiest of birthday wishes, David.


Sharon said...

What a nice thing to say about your step son! Divorce is so hard, and when kids are involved, it so much harder. I'm glad Warren is able to have a relationship with his children, I can only imagine how hard it was for him when he didn't.
I'm sure you are a big part of the glue that keeps this family together too! Warren is very lucky to have you!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to David. Although it has taken much longer to establish such relationships with my step children, after 14 years they easily recognize the positive difference their dad and I have had on each other's lives and by extension, their lives. I have come to admire qualities of each one of them, but have never been moved to write a blog post. You have me thinking.

Donna said...

Luckily, wisdom usually accompanies age, especially with grown children. So glad things are better with David. Lovely write with your heart, not your hands.

We are overdue for catch-up and coffee, April!!