Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Vince



Vince - One day old


The story of Vince is a wild an untamed one.  My first born son was born at 1:56 in the morning on April 9, 1985. I had been in labor all day and he finally emerged, a ten on the apgar scale – a perfect birth.

Most things of value in your life sneak up on you and fill your world with a new wonder, excitement and worry.  Vince’s birth was no different.  Pregnancy was a surprise and caused me to re-evaluate my life – something I had never done as intensely before.  I cleaned up a lot of "loose ends" and focused on what I knew was important and by the time I was ready to deliver Vince, I thought I had a better handle on things.

That is, until Vince was born.

He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen – ask any new mother how long it took to put down their baby.  He was bright and peaceful, a son I didn’t deserve.  I held him in my arms and cooed like someone had given me the moon and the stars – and I thanked God for all of the joy in my life. I also worried and obsessed about every little thing.  What if I messed it all up?  What if I wasn't good enough to be a mom?

I vowed to make something of my life and pass anything I had of value on to this child.   Even after the relationship with his father didn’t work out, I was hopeful that everything was for the best.

Vince grew quickly and displayed remarkable curiosity, taking forever examining books, globes, shapes, legos – anything around.  Once, while I was renewing my license at the DMV he pointed out to the clerk that one of the structures in her cubicle was in the shape of a triangle.  She looked at me and smiled.

“How old is he?”

“Twenty months,” I answered proudly.  As far as I was concerned, Vince was the smartest kid in the world.  

It was the easiest thing to see about him: his fine mind.  When Mario and I married, he adopted the now three-year-old Vince and we quickly commenced to becoming a family.  We loved reading to him - an activity he could sit through for hours on end.  When  he eventually taught himself to read before he entered kindergarten, his teacher accused me of pushing him in his first year of school.
Preschool Graduation - 1989

“Remember to let him be a kid,” she said, in true condescension.  “He has all the time in the world to learn at his own pace.”

“I don’t push him,” I answered, truthfully.  “He taught himself.”

She didn’t believe me and went through a lengthy explanation of how phonetic structure was impossible to learn by osmosis...blah, blah, blah. 

Whatever.

Eventually, Vince's power to teach himself new things took him in directions I wasn't prepared for.  He found trouble quickly and loved laughing about it later.  He listened to loud music; had colorful friends.  During his teen years we struggled and I wondered how to take control of my son; it was clear to me in no time that Vince was becoming his own man.  Almost immediately after he turned eighteen, Vince left our home.

Like most men, Vince started defining what he believed – much of it very unlike what I had “raised him to believe.”  

One night, while I was calling him from Africa, Vince casually shared that he was a socialist – a revelation that nearly made me fall off my chair.  

“How can you be a Socialist?” I asked him. I was confused: In my mind, socialists had goatees and denied the existence of God.  They loved Cuba and China and said bad things about America.  How could my son be this?

Vince was silent for awhile and then sighed.  “Mom, I’ve been a Socialist for awhile,” he said.  “You really don’t pay much attention to these things when I talk about them.”

What?

When we got off the phone, I went into deep prayer.  “Please, God... save my son from being a Socialist.”  It went like this for about an hour until I finally remembered that God knew more about Vince than I did.  

“What is bothering you?” I felt God asking me.  “What bothers you about that word?  Vince has always been a Socialist – I made him that way.”

The voice of God was certain – but why would He say this?

Then he showed me:  Even as a young child, Vince wanted everything to be fair and equal.  It was a passion of his; he loved justice.  He hated the abuse of power – he knew there was a way for a fair distribution of wealth.  Fairness; equality; truth.

The noble purposes of socialism were alive in Vince’s heart.  I was so busy thinking he was my baby, my son who was so bright and creative and believed what I told him to – that I forgot he had grown up.  He was now a man who had grown to think for himself.  This epiphany caused me to pray for understanding.

Gaming with Vince  
More and more of my prayers are now that I understand my own children – like God does.  So I now listen closer, knowing that I am not their only teacher. 

So today, April 9th, I remember Vince and his big heart – a man who wants the world to be fair and equal.  He is a gunsmith – restores and shoots for recreation – after growing up with a mother who had outlawed them in our house.   He’s a fabulous cook and can make menudo just like my grandma's.

Today he turns THIRTY! 

I don’t care about getting older; no part of it scares me.  What I want out of life is to truly love and understand people for who they are - especially my kids.   I love Vince and he has taught me to enjoy many things – tolerance, respect, genuine love of people...even X-box. Even if he weren't my son, I’d still love hanging out with him. 

Last year, I was present for the birth of his first child- a girl named Scarlett.  At one point, after I held her (the compulsory Grandma turn) I handed her back to him.  Rikki's cousin had been snapping pictures and I now have this one as a memory of that day.  It is one of my best memories - and images.



Happy Birthday, Vince.  You used to be my baby, but now you're a man - and a Daddy.  I pray that your day is all you want it to be.  



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