Darkness blanketed the scenery. Not a single cloud littered the night sky. The stars wanly illuminated the frosty landscape. The trees were barren. The grass alternating shades of lifeless brown and faded green. It was the dead of winter and the scene outside of my Ford Windstar certainly confirmed that.
It was January of the year 2000. The new millennium had just started, as had my official journey into fatherhood. My two beautiful baby boys were a month old, and I was on my way to work for the first time since they had come crashing into my life and completely swept me off of my feet. The stereo, as it always is when driving alone, was blaring, playing a CD of mixed songs I had made.
The song began playing just as I was pulling up to a red light. I had heard the song numerous times before. I knew the words by heart. This was, however, the first time I had listened to this song since the birth of my boys. I now had feelings to associate with this song. I could identify with it. I could see the song from a completely different perspective now. I had an emotional connection to it now. I could relate to it in a way I never could before. I was also completely drained from a lack of sleep.
It moved me. It overwhelmed me.
The song spoke of a father’s relationship with his son over the years. The times shared and the memories made. And in the end, on his wedding day, the son tells his father he’s been dreaming of being just like him.
Dad, this could be the best day of my life. I’ve been dreaming day and night of being like you.
I might have wrecked were I not at a red light. My eyes quickly filled with tears. A lump materialized in my throat. I began to sob softly. I wanted that relationship with my children. Though they were barely out of their mother’s womb, I was already looking forward to the day when they would look up to me. To aspire to be like me. To cherish their time with me. To want to spend time with me.
There have been times over the years that they emulated me. They used to flex their little arms and tell everyone how they wanted to grow up big and strong like daddy. They like to listen to the same music I do. Mostly. I have infected them with my love of Michigan and Cincinnati Bengals football. They acquired their love of pizza and buffalo chicken from me, so much so that we used to leave buffalo chicken instead of cookies for Santa.
Just me and you, doin’ what I’ve always wanted to. I’m the luckiest boy alive. This is the best day of my life.
Of course, now that I’m older, wiser, and quite aware of how fallible I am, I’d prefer that they become better men than me.
Fifteen years later, I’m not sure if they want to be like me or not. Of course, I’m not going to ask a teenager if he aspires to be like either of his parents, as I’m sure I know the answer to that question. I’m like, totes uncool, I’m sure. However, we have a veritable treasure trove of memories that I will hold dear until the day I am no longer a part of this world, and I hope they hold those memories as dear as I do.
One thing is for certain. My love for them has grown impossibly since that day.