Saturday, October 18, 2008

It was 23 years ago today...

At 5:38 p.m. on October 18, 1985, Sean Michael Collins was born. The next day, a 5.3 earthquake struck Armonk, New York in Westchester County where we lived. I'm not yet convinced the two are unrelated. Sean entered the world intending to change it, gifted with the abilities to do it.

He arrived early, about a month early. Carolie went into labor several days earlier, and doctors did everything they could to keep his arrival at bay after tests showed his lungs may not have been fully developed. Carolie hung in there, in labor, for more than 36 hours three days.

A few days later after we got home from the hospital, me driving as carefully as I ever have, a box arrived from friends I only thought were acquaintances. The people at WHDH Radio in Boston, from where I was laid off a year or so earlier, sent me a Cleveland Indians outfit for him. Indeed, I said, I will make Sean into my own image.

And so I put the Indians outfit on Sean, and he immediately threw up on it. Thus ended a promising social experiment. He would later become a fan of the New York Yankees, which was enough to make me vomit.

In his first days on the planet, he didn't sleep at all, unless we took him on stroller walks in the cool air. He loved the cold. Years later, when we moved to the Berkshires, he'd go outside just to lay in the snow.

His first years were spent in the Berkshire hills where he enjoyed climbing trees, and following me while mowing the lawn, with his mower that blew bubbles. We;d burn brush and we'd sit in the woods on our property and he'd look at the sky and ask questions about all sorts of things. Between answers, I'd tell him how nice it was to have him in the world and how he shouldn't forget these moments and how much his Dad loved him. But eyes were on the sky, the questions were on his mind and he seemed somewhere else. Then, when it was time to go in, he'd head for the house, turn around and say, "I love you, too."

That's Sean. He absorbs the world in ways few people do. He was reading at 4 years old, an IQ off the charts, and a character that pushed him to hurry up and get to the next thing there was to see. In that latter way, he was like his Dad. He found contentment difficult in the present, because there was always a future to get to; there was always something else.

He started school when we moved to Minnesota. He made such an impression on his first-grade teacher, especially being a kid in new surroundings and all, that one night she brought her dog over to the house, and gave it to Sean. There aren't many teachers who would do that, nor kids worth doing it for. Sean was one of them.

He played baseball and was good at it. He had pinpoint control. He scored the winning run in a championship game. He played the trombone for a time. The first time I saw him as a young man was a band concert in, I think, 4th or 5th grade. There was Sean up there, playing a musical instrument I certainly didn't know how to play, experiencing things I never experienced. That was the moment I realized, he was off on and running on his own.

Sean had some tough times during school, and learned early that evil comes in all sizes and at all ages. He wears his heart where a man should -- on his sleeve -- and a little kid like that made for a big target. He does not suffer fools gladly.

By 17, he was gone. He moved out of the house and into an apartment. He was on his own. I didn't hear from him much, but every night before I went to bed, I walked out on the back deck, looked out in the direction of where he lived, pounded my heart with one fist, and pointed to the stars with the other and said, "I love you, Sean."

Despite my worry, he did fine and taught himself computers, absorbing everything he could in a way that, I'm sure, few do. He ended up working where I work (he got the job on his own), and nearly every morning we have coffee together. The happiest years I've spent in my business, have been the years he's worked at my place.

Like many 23 year olds, he's got more friends than he realizes in a world that's waiting to embrace him.

His future will not be what he sometimes thinks it is. He will change the world for the better, and despite his intelligence, he will probably be the last to realize it.

Happy birthday to my son, in whom I am well pleased.

4 comments:

Carolyn said...

Bob what a wonderful story about a wonderful man that, despite the odds, has accomplished much and taught the world a thing or two along the way. It not only speaks to his strengths but to the strengths you and Carolie brought to his life as well. Someone once told me that as parents we are as our children "raised" us to be. I think Sean did a pretty good job!

Traveler said...

thinking of my own dad, now departed. All of the special things that he did for me...and that we did together, are still with me and still a part of who I grew to be. I hope that Sean will always carry all the the best parts of you with him as he grows into a man.

beth said...

I have a 23-year old that I am equaaly as proud as you are of your son. We should both be very proud!

Lover of Life said...

What a wonderful story about your son. I just dropped by from another blog about empty nests - just as mine is basically on the same subject. And we just moved from Prior Lake, MN in June! Small world...