It was a special Christmas for me. My second son was getting married. I sent him off to live his own life, knowing that I had done my best to prepare him for the journey. It was not a perfect undertaking, but I know that I have given all that I have.
It is always a father’s joy to receive reassurance from the children that their father is still loved for what he is, such as this poem I received fourteen (14) years ago from my eldest son.
FOR MY PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS WITH LOVE ON MY 20TH BIRTHDAY
“I have been here before. Going around in the circle of life, I have been here before. Each turn I have grown …older …wiser …more mature. I am not who I was. I am who I am.
I have been here before with you. You have seen me through my tears, carried me up in my weaknesses. You have allowed me to be hurt so that I would be strong. And with this strength, I could be gentle with those who hurt and others who are hurt.
You did not give me the sun, you taught me to fly. You did not give me victories, you taught me to fight. You did not give me God on a silver platter, you taught me to search and find. And find Him I did in you.
You loved me with God’s love, loved me with all your heart with no strings attached. And I loved you, too, at times, because my love wasn’t as mature, as true. There were times when I hated you for the things you did. But still you loved me in my ignorance even though it hurt you that I thought that way. Now I understand and I say, I love you.
A lot of things have gone into the making of me. And you are the center of all these things.
God chose you and God chooses well. Now the time has come to be on my own, to stand on my own two very capable feet. Feet, that you have made strong. Now I can fly on my own set of wings, wings that you have helped me develop – wings that I can use to fly and to shelter other eaglets as they develop their own wings as you did with me.
This is my gift to you on my 20th birthday. I give to you myself, my journey through life, my flight to the heavens. You have given me feet to walk and wings to fly. But I have nothing to give you save that I offer my love and my life to God as a manifestation of your love and your life.
Rejoice, for you have led a good life. Rejoice, for I will lead a good life because of you. God is good and for you I thank Him. And for being able to know God and thank Him, I thank you.
In my gratitude, from the abundance of a heart you have taught to love by example, from a mature and knowledgeable mind that can make this decision, from a child that has grown into a man and has learned what it is to love – truly, know I love you.”
So it was, with great happiness that I sent off my second son on his life journey with this letter I read during the wedding reception.
LETTER TO IAN, TO BE READ WITH KAREL, December 29, 2009
“Thousands of years ago, the psalmist sang his second Psalm: ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’ This came to pass thirty years ago when God gave you, Ian, to us. I can still vividly remember the time I had to change your diapers, prepare your milk in the wee hours of the morning, and sang you lullabies when you chose to wake up and wail after midnight.
As you and Karel knelt in front of the altar of God to solemnize your vow of love, my mind sang the tune from the “Fiddler on the Roof”: ‘Is this the little boy I carried?’ Well, Ian, you are a man now and this is the time to carry your own baby – Karel – and I pray that you will be carrying your babies soon. Carry them well.
It has been awhile since you decided you were already a man. You no longer want to be told, and would rather have your voice heard. You are now a person of the world, an individual. Go and be a good man, then. My only advice and the only legacy your mother and I can leave you are the memories of your life with us. Please don’t belittle it for it has its own wisdom. Let it be your history book that you can browse in when you feel the need to connect to your past.
You have experienced with us, how together we sailed through the calm and stormy weather of life. We had our laughter and our tears, our successes and our failures. We had those wonderful moments together and also times of ugly misunderstandings, and all those yins and yans of life. But remember that together as a family and with God as our guiding star, we always dropped anchor in our ports of calls safely.
As you now set sail with your family, learn from my mistakes and emulate the good things you have experienced. Remember that life is difficult, but with God, nothing is impossible. It is through the crucible of fire that one is refined and molded to be in the image of God. Be a true image of God.
The best learning I have acquired living this life is that I should never attempt to change someone or have oneself assimilated by others, for each of us is an individual, different from others, a unique creation of God. Getting married does not give you the license to change your spouse. Instead marriage challenges you to expand your love boundary to accommodate your beloved. So, let love teach you and your beloved how to accept one another, and learn how to do what belongs to love only. Then you and Karel can truly say that you are one.
Learn from the personalities of the “Fiddler on the Roof.” They dropped their long-held prejudices and wrong perspectives of people and beliefs to accommodate their loved one. They even sacrificed the roses of life for the thorns just to feel being loved and being able to love. I tell you this is a wonderful way of living.
Also, be like the fiddler on the roof. He played difficulty happy tunes on the uneven surface of the roof. Play also a full tune as you live through your trials and tests and let it be a happy tune always. Be strong for Karel and your children.
Please tell Karel that we have been thanking the Lord for bringing her into your life, and into our lives. Bless her family, God. May they accept us as part of them, too. Together our families will be behind both of you in your walk through life.
Go and live with Karel and live well.”