My Son’s Best Birthday by Sharon O’Donnell

Just returned to Raleigh area yesterday from a wonderful trip to Washington, DC to visit my oldest, Bill, 27, who has been living there for a year. Went with my husband and 17-year-old son, Jason, and our beloved 13-year-old long haired dachshund, Fenway. Our middle son, David, 24, picked up his girlfriend, Claire, in Charlottesville and met us there. Got to see Bill’s girlfriend, Jenna, for the second time and get to know her better. She is very sweet and beautiful and seems to be such a great match for our son. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Billy any happier. And that is what it is all about.

This is the first time all seven of us have been together, and it was a lot of fun. July 4th was Billy’s birthday, and I was glad it worked out so that we could spend it with him. We also went to three Red Sox games against the Nationals, which the Red Sox won. Since my husband’s family is originally from the Boston area, he grew up as a huge Sox fan, I became one, and our sons grew up as avid fans. Their girlfriends have become Red Sox fans too, as they’ve realized how much my sons love the team. These two teams are in different leagues, and it is rare that they play; to have the Nationals have a series against Boston in DC during the week of the 4th when we could all attend — was simply awesome.

Gotta say as I left my oldest son there in DC after celebrating his birthday, I did feel a bit nostalgic and emotional. I was glad he was happy, of course, but I was reminiscing about the day he was born and all those birthdays he’d had at home over the years: the Scooby Doo one, the Spiderman one, the one at the skating rink, the several at the Grand Slam sports complex, etc., I couldn’t help but marvel at how fast those years went by. People say that all the time so much that it has become trite. But the reality of it is overwhelming.

To add to those feelings, I’ve been cleaning out his room back home so that we can paint it, and I’ve come across his yearbooks from middle and  high school. Instead of cleaning, I’ve spent time flipping through the pages and reading the wonderful things people wrote in his yearbook, especially that of his senior year of high school. I found myself wondering if I’d savored that time in his life enough. I’d been busier with his two younger brothers at that time than I had with Billy; he was always so self-sufficient and independent. And so as I read, my heart ached to see and to talk to Billy again when he had been that age — a boy of who had not yet turned 18. Now he is a 27-year-old man, and I don’t know how that happened. I really don’t. But our relationship is strong, and things are going well for him. Out of all those birthdays I mentioned above, I think this one would be undoubtedly, his favorite. He was there with his girlfriend, his family, his dog, and the Red Sox. Last year was not a very happy time for him, so it was particularly sweet that he is at such a good place in his life right now.

We gave him gifts, of course, but the gift that he gave me was seeing that smile on his face. It made it so much easier to leave.





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