May 4, 2013
Saturday, 9:22 PM
I’m a week early, but it’s better to be a week early than a week late…
It was a cold day on December 10, 1977 in Somerset, Pennsylvania. The maximum temperature was 13 degrees fahrenheit, with a low temperature of 2 degrees. I looked it up online. They keep record of these sorts of things if you can believe it. Anyone can look it up if they’re curious, and well, you know that your son has a curious mind for things that most people don’t care to know about, so I looked it up.
I was born on a Saturday morning at 9:45 AM, just a few weeks before Christmas, which is why you and Dad settled on the name Christopher. I don’t know where the Paul came from. I never thought to ask before, but I think it was because you and Dad liked the biblical character, Paul. I looked up the meaning of the name, and the name Paul means “small” or “humble.”
I came into this world weighing 7 pounds and 10 ounces, and measured 20 1/2 inches in length. Having your ass smacked by the nurse and being covered in all that goop is a pretty humble beginning for any child, so I guess the name was suitable for your early Christmas present. Christopher Paul was born.
Pictured are your newborn son’s foot prints in black ink, and right below them are your thumbprints marked with the same black ink. When the nurse took my feet to the ink pad – most likely kicking and screaming, and hopefully taking a whizz all over her – there was no telling where those tiny feet would end up some 35 years later.
Would your son become a teacher? Would he become a missionary? Would he get into trouble and spend half his life rotting away in jail?
Would your son get married? Would he have kids someday? Would he be content to remain single just like the character Paul did in the Bible?
Would your son be healthy? Would there be complications from birth? Or heavens forbid, would your son pass away and leave this Earth far too early?
These are the questions that a mother never knows when she decides to have a child, but she swipes her thumbs along the ink pad and presses them firmly to the paper with a lot of uncertainties and no guarantees for her son’s future, other than the guarantee that she will try to love him as best she can. But even that is something that you can’t predict no matter a mother’s best intentions from the beginning. So you were left with a lot of questions and worries about your newborn son on that cold, winter day in December.
Pictured is a photocopy of your son’s hands when I was five. They’re chubby, little hands smushed against the glass.
There were some answers to be had by the time I was five. You knew that I was kind and had a tender heart. I made you many colorful drawings of flowers and birds with the words scribbled in crayon “I love you.” You knew that I embodied a creative soul and enjoyed making art with crayons, pencils, pens, markers, finger paint and anything that my little, chubby, five year old hands could get a hold of.
You knew that I had an inquisitive mind and enjoyed reading books and looking things up in the Encyclopedia, but I also enjoyed making up my own stories a lot of the times. You knew that I was a people person, but you also knew that I had a very independent spirit. Many times I left to go explore the great wide open, wearing nothing but underwear and a pair of Moon Boots as I went trouncing off into the backwoods by myself for the day.
You knew that I was a bundle full of energy, hated taking naps, didn’t mind eating vegetables, and was a real pain in the ass sometimes, to the point that I almost drove you literally insane, with much help from my other siblings, of course.
You had a sense of who I was, but still, there were a lot of questions left unanswered about your son’s future, and the worrying from a mother continued.
Pictured is a scan of your son’s hands taken just a few days ago at the age of 35. Those little, chubby hands grew and grew and grew, and they became too big to fit on the glass anymore, so that’s why parts of them are cut off.
A lot of questions about your son have been answered over the years. Your son got a job working in the film industry through a lot of hard work and a little luck. I’ve never been married and have no kids. I’ve been blessed with good health so far. I prefer a simple life, have no television, coffee maker, toaster oven, and live in a small apartment in Pittsburgh. I enjoy cutting up, entertaining others, but I can also hold a serious conversation with the best of them. Your son is happy with his life for the most part. But still, there are a lot of questions left unanswered for a mother.
When I was born, you knew that there would always be questions and worrying, but you made your thumbprints on the paper anyhow, claiming me as your son. You were committed from that day forward despite the many uncertainties that life throws at a person, for better or for worse.
I don’t know where my hands and feet will take me the remaining years on this planet. Somedays I dream big, and somedays I’m content to do absolutely nothing at all. Somedays I think it would be nice to be married, and somedays I prefer to be left alone. Somedays I think about moving to a new town, and somedays I want to live in Pittsburgh forever. These hands and feet seem to have a mind of their own, so there’s no telling where they’ll end up one day. I wish that I had the answers to ease your worrying mind, but that’s the part of life that I seem to thrive on best. The unknown.
Really the only answer to any questions that I’ve ever needed was for someone to love me unconditionally and to support me when this curious mind gets him into trouble. You’ve fielded many angry phone calls from principals, teachers, neighbors, parents, church ladies, police officers, park rangers, and from the college Dean. I’ve gotten many scoldings and spankings as a child, but afterwards, you took the time to sit me down to explain how things in life are supposed to work, despite my resistance to want to know.
You knew my heart better than those fussy people who liked to point fingers and yell that your son was a problem child, when I was only being a curious boy. You were patient and committed to your son, despite the many headaches having a curious boy can cause for a mother.
I wanted to leave you with something that my chubby hands created when I was six. It’s a drawing of a flower that I colored with crayons on white construction paper. It’s ripped and torn to pieces, but you taped it up, or somebody taped it up, and you saved it after all these years. It must have been special for you, because when you gave me a box of keepsakes that you kept of mine over the years, including this one, you started crying.
I’m not a mother, so I can only guess as to what the crying fit was all about. I just figured it’s because it must be difficult for a mother to come to the realization that her son is no longer made up of tiny feet and little smushed up hands on the photocopier glass. A mother sits around at night when the house is empty, and wishes that she could still hold her son tight in her arms and kiss those tiny feet goodnight. But time marches on, so maybe that’s what spurred on the tears that day – seeing your son all grown up in the kitchen that day. I don’t know. I didn’t think to ask you that either, because it made me uncomfortable to see you crying, and my feet just wanted to get going.
Your small and humble son would just like to say thanks for always being there for me and loving me like only a mother can love her child. I know that I’m handful. I know that I’ve left you with more questions than probably most sons, but I guess my answer to all your questions would be this. Even though I’ve grown to be a young man and those tiny feet are now a size 11, my heart is still the same as your tender five year old who enjoyed making you drawings of flowers and birds. It doesn’t matter where my hands and feet take me, as long as my tender heart is leading the way. So try not to worry. Try to put all the questions to rest.
Next time I see you, we’ll drink some Franzia boxed wine, and have a good laugh remembering all the old stories of how I almost drove you to the loony bin. You deserve a medal, but a crumpled up flower will have to do.
Happy Mother’s Day. I’m sorry that I forgot to wish you that last year. I know that it hurt your feelings. It was just a bad year for all of us in the family, so that’s why this year I wanted to make it up to you as best I can. With a crumpled up flower from 1983. Some lousy son I am. HA! Guess you’re stuck with me, hands and feet and all.
I love you,