Can you find him?
Can you find him?
The American Thanksgiving 2017 brought two of the three boys home for the break. The oldest stayed at school to spend his time with the girlfriend Allie’s family. We are getting used to Tristan not coming home for Thanksgiving. For the other two I believe the break at home was well worth the travel time.
One thing is certain when any of the boys come home. Mom is ready to take care of them and they are open to all the attention. The refrigerator is stocked and the meals are large. The quiet house gets noisy and messy within minutes. And the cats and dog get more attention than usual. Chester, our labradoodle, was not home for the return of the boys as he was getting surgery for his torn ACL. When he hopped in the door we had to restrain everyone so he did not injure himself again. ACL surgery for dogs is very expensive and Aidan couldn’t do his regular dog smothering he likes to do.
As for every other break, this break came to an end quickly. Aidan left last Saturday night and Dallyn the next night. The joy of coming home was overcome with the trepidation of going back to school. That feeling then moves to sadness and then to acceptance that school and commitments beckon. I understand, being home is comfortable. It’s easy and so cozy. The dorm room, studying, cafeteria food and structure is not so comfortable. It’s tough saying goodbye from their end and it is tough on our end to watch them hurt. We deeply appreciate the brief time together and know that they will be back home very soon for a long Christmas vacation. We are definitely looking forward to seeing ALL of them very soon.
My coaching job takes me across Canada and the United States as I work with teams attending lacrosse tournaments. There are a lot of times I travel alone as I meet teams that are traveling from Edmonton. For example, I was with the Vimy Girls team in Toronto and Philadelphia last weekend and now I am in Delaware meeting a Boys High School team. In between the tournaments I was able to use the time down here to visit Aidan and Tristan. Unfortunately for me I was unable to make a trip to see Dallyn this time.
When I am down here there is a significant amount of time driving as I move from event to event. Much of this time is spent on my own driving along highways as I move from Philadelphia to Bethlehem to Ithaca back to Bethlehem to New Castle to Philadelphia. Lots of miles getting around. Last time I was down here I was to fly out of Philadelphia, only to see my flight to Toronto get cancelled. Instead of waiting for the next day flight to Edmonton through Seattle, I rented a car and drove 10 hours straight through the night to Toronto. I was able to catch the 7 AM flight to Edmonton with a stop in Winnipeg.
All this idle time in the car can lead to some considerable thinking. I find myself at times remembering my kids as youngsters. The only problem with this is that I try so hard to remember them at certain points of their life that I can never get it right. It gets really hard to remember exact moments and times. I almost get mad at myself because I can not remember every Christmas morning, every Halloween costume and every mini sticks game. Yes, I can remember certain things, but memories start to merge together. Is this me? Am I losing my memory? There are times when I purposely need to stop thinking about things because I get so frustrated. Why can’t I remember everything? I catch myself spinning my mind around trying to remember all the details.
The funny thing about this is that the kids probably never think about this. I think it bothers me because they have grown up so much that I miss them as little kids. Where did all that time go? It is so far away from where I am now. It is almost scary. I am starting to get better about all of this and not dwell on the past and start enjoying the now and building new memories. It helps me get out of the funk and beating myself up for not remembering everything. I miss them so much as young kids, the laughter, the birthdays, the Halloweens. But you can not live in yesterday. Time to build new memories. Need to pull the old photo albums out.
I first started this blog in the Fall of 2010, when Tristan left home to attend Westminster School. The intention of the blog was to share updates on Tristan as he was at prep school. The blog initially was called Westminster All the Way, but changed to Brotherly Love when my writing started to encompass the activity of all the boys. The name also had to change because Aidan left to go to Cardigan Mountain School and then Williston Northampton School. Over the past seven years I have been on and off writing in the blog, but I think it is time to get going again because there have been some significant changes in our lives.
First, Tristan is no longer the awkward boy that left seven years ago to Westminster School. He is now a Junior at Lehigh University majoring in Psychology and just starting his third year with the Men’s Lacrosse team. Secondly, after spending a year at home working, Aidan is now a freshman at Ithaca College where he is playing on the Men’s Lacrosse team. Aidan is in the Communications School where he is taking writing classes hoping one day to write for movies, shows or video games. He has settled in very well and is even working on campus. And finally, little Dallyn is no longer so little. He has also left the nest and is a Sophomore at Choate School. He worked extremely hard to get into the school and is in the middle of playing football this Fall. He hopes to play hockey in the Winter and lacrosse in the Spring. He has grown up so much over the past year that it amazes me when I look at him.
So Tracey and I have an empty nest at home. It took us 25 years of marriage to get to an empty nest with the full knowledge that they probably will be back again soon to mess up the basement and increase our grocery bill. We do not have to buy two jugs of chocolate milk every three days. The leftovers in the fridge last a little bit longer and the house is very, very quiet. Only when you really think about it does it feel a little lonely in the house.
I spent a lot of time with the boys. No, not just a lot of time, but an incredible amount of time. They all went to the school I worked at so we would drive together to school, I would see them all day and then coach them in the afternoons. And with Dallyn, I spent the most time. He was the one around when the other two were away. There was a lot of one on one time. Some days were awesome and other days were tough. He received a lot of attention and also he would take the heat because the other two were away. Now he is away too. So the drives to school are a lot more quiet then it has been for years.
When you have kids you need to let them take their wings. As much as I want to have them close they need to explore the world and figure out what they want out of life. They may choose to come home and they are always welcome, but I did not have children to dictate to them their course of life. As difficult as it is to watch them stumble I am getting better at letting them hit the bumps. Not saying I don’t have my opinions.
Time sure does not stand still, definitely not for me. I guess I do miss them a bit.
When you send your children to school in the US it becomes part of your life to be in tune with the current events of the neighbors to the South. This has been part of my life for close to three decades, ever since I was a young student at Dartmouth. My curiosity has been heightened the past six years since Tristan and Aidan have been at school. In the past year the political events going on down south have caused me to seriously consider the consequences of what could be a tumultuous November when a new President is elected.
I am a Canadian, first generation son of immigrants that came to Canada from India. When I think about how far I have come since my mother and then my father stepped into this country I am amazed at what they accomplished and I have been able to accomplish through their decision to start anew here in Canada. Based on my background it would be safe to assume I am not a proponent of the Donald Trump school of thought. His campaign that started with the calling out of Mexicans, only brings back the painful history of my teacher father coming home and telling my mother of the racial slurs that were written about him in school textbooks. Those memories still sting.
When I read the news and listen to the political commentary that emanates from the United States I am amazed at the lunacy of the events. How did this powerful nation get to this point of fragmentation and divisiveness? Is there any common sense at all when it comes to politics? I think of my oldest son, Tristan, sitting among his American friends possibly shaking his head in disbelief. Do they talk politics? Where do his friends stand on the issue of the Second Amendment, Black Lives Matter, the birther issue, political transparency, national security and the Supreme Court? Do they care or are they so immersed in college life, lacrosse and parties that these conversations are left for post graduation? I hope not. I hope he can pass on Canadian wisdom from his “outsider” perspective. I would like to think he is compassionate and caring, and able to formulate positions based on the goodness of human beings.
It is very difficult to separate ourselves from what is going on in the United States. Tristan’s closest friends are American, his girlfriend is American, he is a Canadian living his life in America. This was not more evident than in December 2012. Tracey was visiting Tristan as he played in the Christmas tournament with his Westminster hockey team. On December 14th a young man opened fire in Sandy Hook school killing 26 people including 20 young children. The mass shooting occurred a few hours away from where they were, but it shook up the entire country. It shook me up. The United States and the gun culture. When you send your child to the US to go to school you should not have to worry about guns, but I can tell you that it is on my mind every day. I listen to the politicians debate the Second Amendment and it boggles my mind that a country as powerful as the US can not do something to reduce the number of gun deaths. Is it too hard to change or has everyone accepted the fact that gun violence is the norm in American daily life?
After the tragic events at Sandy Hook, the Westminster hockey coach printed out name tags for the players that bore the names of children lost that day in Sandy Hook. Instead of their lockers bearing each player’s name and number the lockers now would say the name of a child from Sandy Hook. Coach Tim Joncas, bless his heart, was trying to give his players perspective of what their life was all about and the fragility of their existence. I did not find out about this until after the school year, but that action taken by Coach Joncas still profoundly affects me. Tristan’s locker now bore the name of Daniel Barden, a beautiful seven year old boy that died that December day. To see more about Daniel I urge you to go to this Facebook page. I carefully read each new post on that page because I want to remember Daniel and not let him become a distant memory. That would be too easy.
On January 5, 2016 Daniel’s father Mark introduced President Obama before the President announced new executive actions on gun control. When I saw Mark Barden I thought of his beautiful little boy and I thought of my boys. I thought of my American friends and their country. I thought of their kids. I watched Obama wipe away his tears and I saw a man who cared deeply about his beautiful country. Something that had seemed so far from me suddenly came hitting home to me. That press conference was so difficult to watch. It still resonates with me so maybe that is why this election seems so personal to me. With one son in the US and possible another one there next fall there is so much at stake in this election, I truly believe the beauty and grace of America is at stake and the entire world is watching. I am hopeful the beauty of America wins this election.
The Fall around our household has always represented a new beginning. The kids would start a new year of school, the hockey season would be starting and even though the cold weather would be nipping at us, it was a fresh start for everyone. Over the past six years the Fall took on even a more prominent part of our lives as Tristan and Aidan would leave for school. Fall is upon us again and more new beginnings.
But first, the last eight months have been a whirlwind of activity. Aidan, after four years of Williston Northampton School, graduated. There were several bumps in the road, but he made it through. Tristan finished his freshman year at Lehigh where he was able to have great success on the lacrosse field. The classroom presented challenges that he had to overcome. Dallyn was the stay home son, trying to forge his own identity. He has grown so much this past year and is ready to make some big strides in his life. And for Tracey and I, we both hit the age of 50 this summer, making it extremely obvious that time stands still for no one.
When I actually think about what the kids have been up to it amazes me. Their opportunities have been so much more than I was offered at their age. Aidan was able to travel to Iqaluit to work on a movie as a lacrosse double. Tristan was able to join him on the movie shoot as the location moved to Toronto. Tristan again was playing box lacrosse in Ontario before getting traded to play for Calgary to end his junior lacrosse career. Dallyn traveled for three weeks on the East Coast of the US playing in lacrosse tournaments. He ended the summer playing in a box lacrosse tournament in Toronto.
Through all the activity we were able to have a short couple of weeks together as a family at home. We were able to celebrate Tracey’s 50th birthday as a complete family with many of our friends. We even had Tristan’s girlfriend Allie up from New Jersey for the birthday party. You take for granted the family time when the kids are young and dependent on you for everything. Now the family time is sacred due to it being a non-renewable resource. They grow up, they become adults. You take whatever time you can get.
Fall brings new beginnings which means Tristan is back at Lehigh ready for Fall ball. Aidan is home this year as he takes a gap year before deciding on his post graduate plans. He has been accepted to attend Ithaca College where he was recruited to play lacrosse. At this point though, his primary focus is on making some money to help offset his college costs. And baby Dallyn is no longer a baby. He is in high school with no idea what the future will await him.
Let’s enjoy the Fall. I am hoping for a warm Fall, but more importantly a Fall with even more opportunities and growth.
We had the family back together again in Edmonton, after close to a year. Tristan had not been home for eight and a half months and the last time we were all home together was last Christmas. It was a great break having the brothers back together again after such a long time apart. Aidan went back to school on January 4th. Tristan did not have to go back to school until January 15th, so his break was close to a month. It was great to have him home for so long, but his departure this time was very difficult for me. It was nice to have time with him and just as I was getting comfortable with him being home it was time to leave. Friday afternoon was a tough one. I am getting used to the possibility that there will be lots of gaps in time for all of us to be together in the future. It really can be a downer when I think about it.
When Tristan and Aidan were young they had dreams of playing college lacrosse. They both chased their dreams and Tristan was able to secure an opportunity at Lehigh University and Aidan is working hard to see if he can reach his goal. What seemed so far away is now becoming a reality. With that reality comes the realization that it takes a huge sacrifice by the kids, but as well as the family. As the Canadian dollar takes a nosedive daily in value against the US dollar, the reality becomes harsh. As I told Tristan over the holiday break I need to work 45% harder to be able to pay the college costs. I think back to the mid to late 1980s when I was at Dartmouth and my parents were paying for my school. It all comes full circle. The Canadian dollar was weak at that time and I have very little clue the impact on my parents. Now I share that pain. The dollar forecast is bleak, but the determination to support the dream is strong. As long as the kids bust their ass, all I can do is bust mine.I know for a fact that my mom and dad worked so hard to allow me to go to Dartmouth and the least I can do is provide the same opportunities for my kids. I love Canada, but I sure would appreciate being paid in American dollars right now.
Aidan is nearing the end of his Senior year at Williston and Tristan is heading into his Freshman season as a member of the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team. They have worked hard to get to this place and I am sure there is a lot of work ahead. The dreams that started so long ago here in Canada are taking shape south of the border. It was nice having them home, but they have things to do.