It's been almost two weeks, because of vacation with your mother, but already you look more like a man than last time you were here. Maybe it's football camp that has put that masculine confidence in your stride, less of that inocent lightness about you, like your youngest brother who would be skipping and jumping were he not on crutches (Ah, yes, your younger brothers, another responsibility that you take on without complaint. Is it any wonder you sometimes become exasperated?). Walking behind you today on the beach, it was puzzling to me that this broad shouldered young man could be my son, the same one I had carried on these sands and tossed over my head into the chilly water only a few short years ago. You wrestled with me in the shallows and probably would have won had you really tried, but dunkning me was enough fun; both joyous and strangely bitter sweet for your old man.
I know you are excited about Ireland and that makes me very happy. I never had a passport at your age, and though we are making this trip on a shoe string, after job changes and medical bills, I intend for you to fully enjoy the experience. That's one of the greatest joys a parent has; providing for his children what he never experienced himself. Up until now, you haven't been in anything larger than a Piper Cub. Me? Heck, I didn't fly until I was thirty, but now I have a certain frightened love for it, like Jonathan has for roller coasters. I've warned you that you'll need to be more open and willing to try new foods, and even that seems suddenly no big obstacle to you now. At least that's how I read your eyes when you nod your head. Oh, I sense that this will be an opening up of the world for you. I am excited... and yet, again, here is more proof that my boy is nearly grown.
Odd, that I should be maudlin about the fact. Isn't that the purpose of being a parent; raising children to adulthood? Ah, well, when you put it that way, I suppose it helps a little. Yet, I admit selfishness. There is so much that I have gained by being your dad, Josiah, and every moment with you over the years has been precious (okay, okay, so I lost my temper a couple of times, but Leggos really do hurt under bare feet in the dark).
Last Christmas I included a shaving kit in your gift dufflebag, sort of a rite of passage, and already you need to use it. You have a bit more than peach fuzz under that nose of yours, and this too pains me deeply: Already at fifteen you show the potential to grow a mustache more even and full than I ever have.
I don't know how I'll take it when you finally fly free of the nest, but I can be certain that you will soar bravely and with a certain youthful wisdom that I miss in my own soul, but delight to see in your eyes. Don't lose that too soon. If possible son, don't lose it at all. Find a way to remain both wise and full of faith, even as you do now in your youth. Believe me, it looks good on you.