My oldest son is turning thirty years old. Yes, the Big 3-0. I can tell from speaking with him that he has noticed some realizations that only age can bring. Despite being born at the beginning of the over-protected Millennial Generation, he can’t deny he’s not a kid any more. He can keep one foot firmly planted in the world of video games, because that’s what some people his age still do for entertainment. His other foot is firmly entrenched in the world of adulthood and all the trappings that come along with it: a wonderful wife, two beautiful children, a nice house (including a white picket fence and a hyperactive dog). He lives in a world of possibilities, but it’s a world of responsibilities as well.
The American Dream is something to aspire to or something that just happens if you work hard and are lucky enough to achieve it. But the American Dream comes with a hefty price tag. In today’s world that price requires two incomes and lots of overtime. By the time you obtain the dream, you are running full speed on the treadmill of everyday life, and there’s no easy way off.
My son is thirty years old. He can’t believe it. I can scarcely believe it myself. This is my little baby, born in Stoneham, with a perfectly round head, blond hair and bright blue eyes. A happy-go-lucky scruffy scamp who played hard through grammar school, skateboarded through middle-school and somehow survived the rigors of teen-age life at Stoneham High School. Today he’s older than I was on the day he was born. He has a son and daughter of his own to teach and mold into upstanding citizens, or at least close proximities.
I knew if I imparted enough fatherly wisdom on this child, something would stick with him. Luckily, it was one of the most important lessons a person can learn: find something you love and make it your career. For whatever reason, so many people are stuck in jobs they hate. My son followed my advice. His love of filming skateboard videos when he was a kid evolved into shooting news footage on the streets of Boston at night (before reporters from the television networks arrived). His success as a “stringer” led him to work as news videographer. He is now a news cameraperson for Channel 7 in Boston. His love for his job shows in the quality of his work. His attention to detail makes the on-air reporters look good. Through his work he has attended presidential inaugurations and Super Bowl playoffs, as well as marathon bombings and nightclub massacres. He sees the headlines from the inside, giving him a unique perspective on what’s really happening in the world.
As my son gets older, he will find the road of life levels off. Ideals sometime fall by the wayside and are replaced with new realities. The key to life is to use your experience to deal with whatever obstacles you encounter along the way. He’s got a lot of future ahead of him.
I clearly remember the morning of my son’s birth in March of 1987. I drove home from the New England Memorial Hospital in Stoneham, feeling over-the-moon. I was thankful my baby was born heathy and strong. The weather was unusually warm and sunny that day. My car radio played Jiminy Cricket singing, “When you wish upon a star your dreams come true…”. If anyone looked inside my Plymouth Acclaim as they passed by, they would have seen a man with a huge smile on his face and a hint of a tear in his eye – a tear of happiness of course. I had a son. I was on top of the world in that moment and I made sure I savored every moment.
Since that day, I’ve raised a special, talented man who is serious about his work, but who also knows how to have a good time. Affectionately dubbed ”Hurricane Joe”, he is often compared to a bull in a china shop. When you have a personality as large as his, it cannot be contained. His unexpected sensitivity outweighs his widely perceived brashness. My big huggable lug of a son ends all of his phone calls with “I love you”. A father can’t ask for anything more than that. I love you, Joe. Here’s to many more birthdays yet to come. May your party never end.