Friday, May 9, 2008

"Talking 'bout my boy"

Today is my son’s 35th birthday.

Look at that face! He still has the most genuine smile. His eyes still twinkle but as he got older the incredible cheekbones he inherited from his Dad became even more prominent.

He loved yellow and Sesame Street. Especially Ernie and Bert. His entire nursery school wardrobe consisted of Sesame Street character shirts – every character – every color.

Years later I would come to miss those shirts when his tastes turned to WWF and NASCAR. Thankfully that didn’t last long. I’m not a snob but Rowdy Randy Piper!! Come on.

The second photo is from his wedding two years ago. We danced to Lee Ann Womack’s ‘I Hope You Dance’. I insisted on the original version – I hate when the band singer tries to cover a song and add their own style. And this was a Greek band!! They were great and everyone had a wonderful time dancing but covering a pop country song – uh NO.

One aside – the schemata around my shoulders is because my dress was too big. I lost 12 pounds between the last fitting and the wedding and all the seamstress could do was put tiny little loops into the shoulders and hook them to my bra. Of course the loops broke during the ceremony. How fitting that I should be thinner than I’d been in years and have to shroud myself in tons of silver silk. I am a constant source of ironic amusement.

I chose ‘I Hope You Dance’ for the lyrics. They said so much of what I want for my son. I want the gentle, wondrous child he was to always have a strong place in his heart and soul.

I Hope You Dance lyrics
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance...

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin'
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin'
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance ...

And he does dance …

He is a kind and gentle man. He once held up traffic and risked life and limb to move baby rabbits off the road and back into the woods. He tears up at sad movies (don’t tell anyone!). He charms everyone – especially older ladies. He is the first to go and shovel, to bring the trash out or to carry groceries for all our older neighbors.

Since I worked so much he was often home alone – our Brooklyn neighborhood was tight and everyone looked out. Of course there were the usual teenage adventures. The time they all cut school and hid out at my house. The time they decided to climb to the garage roof and build their own bungee jump. And the drinking beer and then truly expecting me to believe they had food poisoning as a way to explain the barf fest going on in my bathroom.

But never trouble with drugs or drinking and driving. He was usually the first boyfriend that Dads would allow their girls to be in a car with. His friend’s parents would call me to tell me he broke up a fight, he brought home a drunk, he gave away his last $10 so someone could get dinner.

It was a rocky start for my boy. His Dad never did much but let him down until he finally just disappeared. He had the pressures of being multi- racial and living in a closed minded neighborhood. He had a very young and inexperienced Mom who was trying to grow up herself while caring for an incredibly dysfunctional and wounded family. I know he carries some scars from those days. From the time, when he was 6 or 7, and a bunch of local morons tried to make him leave a pizza place by barraging him with the word Nigger. From the time he had to come to family court with me to try and stop his Grandfather from hurting his Grandmother anymore. From the day his Aunt decided to commit suicide and made him the last person she called.

From this rocky start a gem emerged. He has a quiet dignity that moves with him. He doesn’t say a lot and doesn’t get involved in silly daily strife but he will be there in the blink of an eye for anyone in trouble. He loves to tease but is never cruel. In all the years of difficult situations I can count on one hand the number of times he lost his temper. He is a peace maker. He accepts without judgment. He loves deeply.

One of my favorite moments is right after I took in Siren. Although my son loves animals he was put-off by how wild and unpredictable Si was. I misjudged my ability to control Siren and in their first meeting Siren bit my son – long and hard! Days later I overheard him whispering to Siren that he “understood”, that “it sucked to be lost and afraid”, he knew Siren “was angry” but he “was safe now, we’ll take care of you forever. So please – you’re giving Mom a heart attack. Just get the fuck over yourself” Again – you didn’t hear it here!

If there was one gift I could give my boy today it would be a magic mirror. I would hold it up for him to see the man I see. I guess that comes later – when he’s older. After all – 35 years is but a blink of an eye.


magnetbabe said...

You did a great job Di! He sounds like such a wonderful man, and handsome too! Happy 35th!

emily said...

What an amazing woman you are.

This letter is lovely.

Raven said...

Sounds like he is his mother's son, through and through. Maybe the mirror he can see himself in is your face... and in your loving words.

Happy 35th Birthday, son of Dianne! And many merry unbirthdays to go with it.

Raven said...

Forgot to say that I loved all the stories, but I especially love the cat with Siren. Wonderful.

bobbie said...

In other words, he is his mother's son.

This is a wonderful tribute to your boy. (Who is now a man.) And I wish him the happiest of birthdays and of lives.

I'm sure he knows how lucky he is to have you for a mom.

Cherie said...

Happy Birthday to your boy! Definitely his mother's son. :) The Siren story really choked me up. Such a sweet boy. :D

Mahala said...

A caring, gentle, handsome man. He sounds like a prince to me :)

Jay Simser said...

Your writing about your son brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful tribute to him and to you. After all you raised him. Blessings on you both. The world is a more beautiful place because of what happened 35 years ago. Happy Birthday to you both. j

Jay said...

Happy Birthday dude!

This was a really sweet post. ;-)

Dianne said...

magnetbabe - we kinda raised each other and I guess we did do a good job. thanks Auntie Babe :)

emily - your comments always give me such a warm feeling, thank you so much.

raven - thank you! He doesn't know I can hear him talking to Siren from the basement office, crazy vents we have. I love to listen to them, I swear Siren understands. They have become much closer as Siren calms down and feels safer. And Mia is truly in love with her 2 legged big brother LOL

bobbie - it still amazes me that 35 years have gone by. I know you know what I mean - he was just a baby, yesterday!

cherie - that story chokes me up too, I was crying as I typed it. there is a funny bond between them and I have to admit that it sometimes makes me laugh to see Siren intimidate all 6'4" of his big brother.

mahala - thank you! he really is such a good guy. :)

jay s - what a lovely thing to say. you're such a good and caring friend, thank you.

Dianne said...

awwww jay - thanks!! funny thing - my son calls Siren 'dude' all the time.

Knight said...

I love the dancing photo. Neither of you are smiling in a cheesy wedding way but you look so happy and thoughtful.
Charming, caring, good looks, and an awesome mother? Sounds to me like that son of yours has it all.

the walking man said...

Dianne if you ever kick this kid to the curb send him my way Eh? I ain't holding my breath though.

Wonderful words, expressing wonderful communication between generations.

Great Peace


Jo said...

That was so beautiful, Dianne--I need tissues! He is clearly your boy, you did good & now you can bask in his shine. He sounds amazing & so dear, it makes my heart happy that the two of you have each other.

He's a looker too! And I love the expression on your face in the photo. Happy Birthday to your baby, and to you :)

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Dianne! I was laughing through my tears. What a great tribute to you and your son. My favortie was the food poisoning story. They really thought you would believe they had food poisoning. Funny. You raised a wonderful son. Tell him Happy Belated Birthday for me. Lisa

Minnesotablue said...

Dianne: How could he not be a wonderful man with you as his mother. Through all the difficulties you two have shared, you have managed to produce a wonerful and loving son. It is indeed a tribute to both of you.And he is a handsome and very imposing man. Happy Birthday to him and much love to you as you have been is role model and shining light.

kenju said...

Well, that left me teary-eyed so much that I had to stop before I could write a comment, and wipe my eyes. You made me think of my son and what a fine young (41) man he is and how proud I am of him. Mine didn't have to suffer the name-calling that yours did. How terrible we humans are to each other. I am glad to know that he grew up gentle in spite of it - and that I attribute to you and your love.

Jeni said...

Ya know, Dianne, the more I read what you post about your son, your relationship with him, the more I think he and my son should meet too -kindred spirits there. Although all three of my kids had the dysfunctional family (since they all grew up with me, no dad on the scene, etc.) I often think -and so do my girls -that my son had it harder because he was the only male in the house, sandwiched between two bossy sisters and having to put up with a mother who was frequently a big force to be reckoned with. But survive he did and we all agree it has made him a great guy to be with -funny, sweet, sentimental -unafraid to shed a tear too and very understanding about females and their issues!
When we meet someday, I think we should try to have the sons with us and they can compare notes about strong-willed mothers!

Akelamalu said...


He sounds like a very special man but then he has a very special mother!

My baby is 32 on Monday - where does the time go?

CG said...

What a beautiful, moving post. In comparatively few words, you convey the essence of your wonderful son. He is a credit to you :) And extremely handsome too!! Many happy returns :)

SnoopMurph said...

Wow, I just loved reading about your son. You write so lovingly.

What I would hope is that someday my boys get to meet him (and you, of course) because he is a terrific example and what I would hope for my own two in the future-to be kind and think of others before themselves.

I am NOT happy that 35 years goes so fast!

Leighann said...

Doll, if I've fogotten to tell you lately how awesome you are, let me tell you again right now! You're awesome!

Not only are you incredibly lucky to have raised such a wonderful son, he is also luck to have such an amazing mother!

Happy Birthday to him and Happy Mother's Day to you!

P.S. For the record, It's Rowdy RODDY Piper :p
and if you think that's bad, google "Hornswoggle"
My husband is 32 and STILL watches WWE (formerly WWF)

Tammy said...

Happy Birthday to your son! He sounds like he is an amazing person. You did a great job in raising him.

Happy Mother's Day! :o)

Bob-kat said...

Many happy returns to your son. You sure raised a fine man. I love how he talked to Siren. It take s alot of inner presence and understanding to relate like that.

Hilary said...

Aww that was lovely. A touching tribute to your son. I loved the Siren story.. so sweet. Happy Birthday to your son, and Happy Mother's Day to you!

fermicat said...

Just keep telling your son what you see. He will remember it and believe it. Great story - and a handsome son.

Richard said...

Happy Mother's Day Dianne. This was a moving post and shows what heart and thoughtfulness you put into your writing.

I've heard it said you should write about what you know. It is obvious from this that you know a great deal about love, compassion and Motherhood.

This may require another book - titled ?


Minnesotablue said...


Diane Mandy said...

A Greek band doing country. That IS scary!

Your son sounds like a wonderful man!

pink dogwood said...

I love that song as well. Your son is handsome both inside and outside - wish him a very happy birthday and many many more happy ones to come.

mrsnesbitt said...

A moving heartwarming post! Lovely infact!

Casdok said...

Awww, great post. A belated happy birthday to your son and mothers day to you!

Dianne said...

I'm catching up on all of your comments in between outages. Oy!!

knight - I'm so happy you noticed the lack of wedding cheese in the photo. We did a lot of that. I refused to cup my son's face while gazing wistfully into the heavens. Instead we both wore Jets caps and gave the peace symbol.

thank you Mark! I'd never kick him to the curb ;) but there days when I'd just plain kick him ;)

jo - I love most of the photos of the two of us. I always look so at peace. thanks sunlight :)

lisa - there's a million stories where they thought I'd fall for some nonsense. and they kept trying over all the years. got to te point where they'd just start talking and then burst into laughter.

minnesotablue - thank you for such kind words. I did my best and it looks like it turned out pretty good :)

kenju - gentleness and the power of understanding were very important to me while he was growing up. there was/is so much to be enraged about but I always wanted him to turn toward the positive. thank you kenju.

jeni - I think a big-ass family get together is in order. we share so many parallel lines and we both did good :)

akelamalu - the time just disappears into the clouds! Happy Birthday to your boy :)

cg - thank you, thank you. and yeah - he is a looker ain't he!? LOL - that too is something wonderful about him, he doesn't think he's all that handsome and never notices women (or men) looking at him.

snoopmurph - yes! another reunion on my wish list. I'd love to hug Connor and Ian - and you and Thomas too. Just enjoy the day to day, don't think too much about the 35 years :)

leighann - as I typed Rowdy Randy I knew I was wrong but couldn't remember. We used to bring umbrellas to the matches cause we always got stuck between Roddy's fans and Hogan's fans and there'd be beer fights. Oh - and I think you're awesome too :)

thank you so much tammy.

bobkat - "inner presence" - is a lovely way to put it. I love listening to him talk to Siren, and now to Mia as well.

hilary - thanks and Happy Belated Mom's day to you.

Dianne said...

fermicat - I do tell him, thank you so much.

richard - so many titles come to mind :)
thanks, as always, for supportive and kind comments. they mean a lot to me.

and to you minnesotablue!

diane m - luckily we went with the band AND a DJ. Greek music is wonderful but we still need our rock & roll.

pink dogwood - thank you - and yes, that song just says so much.

mrsnesbitt - thank you and thank you for visiting, much appreciated.

casdock!! - I miss you!! Happy Belated Mother's Day and hugs to C. I think of you both all the time.

Shelly said...

What a beautiful post, I have a lump in my throat and glassy eyes ;)

tt said...

yes... you two raised each other very well :) Children can be such an inspiration to us but
Sons are a gift to the mother. Even the challenging ones :) like mine. they allow us to go outside of our comfort zones and see things through different eyes.
I think you did very well by him and I'm sure he brags about his Mom too.
I love that song too. It's what all parents should wish for their kids.
Happy Moms day to you...

Dianne said...

awwww shelly - thanks!

and you too tt! - I missed all my blog buddies during my weekend without connections. Happy Mom's Day to you!

cher said...

Dianne, Happy 35th to your son! You may have been a young, overworked mom, but you accomplished the hardest job of all. You raised a wonderful, sweet, caring son.

You both got lucky too, since you passed your genes on to him.

Happy Mother's Day!

cathy said...

just beautiful!
a blessing on both of you.

Dianne said...

cher - thank you, what wonderful things to say. I love ya! :)

and I love ya too cathy - me and my boy stop often to count our blessings. thank you

Lisa said...

I hope you dance is the song I always said is the one I'd dedicate to my boys. It really does sum up what most moms really do want for their kids.

Anytime I hear that song, it makes me tear up and I think of them...

Jill said...

This is stuff like this that makes me want to have kid even more! To see the love through your words is amazing!
And that song is just great! the lyrics are wonderfull!

Dianne said...

lisa - it is a wonderful song. and we are both so lucky - our boys are lovely men :)

jill - thank you! what a wonderful thing to say.