Three years ago to this day I walked the final mile into Boston in honor of the memory of the son I lost to cancer.
It's curious to me why there isn't a day devoted to sons... and daughters since without either, one cannot be a father. And more importantly, it is they who define us as fathers.
My life was forever changed in 1997 when Malcolm came into mine and there hasn't been a single day since he isn't in my thoughts. And Murphy, too. They have cut a watercourse so deep in my heart that bathes me with their beauty and buoys my soul when dark and sad.
I was blessed with a good and decent and devoted father. From him I developed a love of learning, a fidelity to truth and understanding, and an ability to reason my way through things. And it was because of him, in a big big way, that we made it to Boston safely.
Even though I trained for the walk, I wasn't a seasoned backpacker, but I figured that if I kept my wits about me, assessed and anticipated risks accurately, and used caution as my guide, I'd make it okay. There are countless examples and I probably won't recount every in 'The Rock', but an early one stands out in my mind.
Just north of Buffalo, TX, there are a span of three consecutive bridges in the mudflats that are impossible to go around due to the fact that the terrain is basically a swamp full of cottonmouths and other dangers. But what made this stretch of bridges particularly treacherous was that it was a byway between two interstates and all of the supersized semis, you know the ones that say 'overload', used it and on this day, there was a steady stream of them.
My initial reaction was 'too risky' but this was when we had little ground support and there were only two options, press ahead or turn around. I'd like to think that I'm not a backwards moving man but I would if it would cost the lives of me and my boys.
So I stood there on the side of the road assessing. For 30 minutes, maybe longer. And I realized I had one advantage and that was line of sight. Since it was the mudflats I could see a mile ahead and so I started timing traffic because I knew if we got caught on anyone of the three bridges when two big trucks were crossing at the same time, we didn't stand a chance.
I timed the first then crossed. Then waited, timed, then crossed the second. Then the third. And even though there were a few times I had to huddle Hudson and Murphy against the guardrail, we survived. And not because of my balls but my brains and I owe that to my father.
My father also taught me perhaps the most valuable of all life lessons early on. There is no greater pain than losing a child...
Gloria Filiorum Patres... The Glory of sons is their father.
We are sons of men.
Happy Father's Day.