Today is my son’s birthday — Lucas joined us on January 28, 1993, and nothing has been the same since.
Parents get embarrassingly nostalgic on a child’s birthday, even long after the child grows up and moves on — memories are a big part of our payoff for all the lost sleep, long hours and years of anxious concerns. So, let me tell you a story or two about Lucas that gave us early glimpses of his spirit — and wit.
We’d just bought a new car — a Toyota RAV4 — and stopped at Suzi’s China Grill to celebrate before heading home.
“There’s our new RAV4,” Lucas announced as we left the restaurant.
“I like it better than our old RAV4.”
“Our old car wasn’t a RAV4…” I started to explain.
“Was it a RAV3?” he asked before I could continue.
Touché, young fellow, touché.
Sara and I both wanted to go to Alaska, so when she earned sabbatical time from her job one summer, we decided to drive to Alaska and back — a 5-week journey in all. We figured we wanted to go when Lucas was between the ages of 5 and 10. Any earlier, and he might not remember much; any later, and he might not want to be in the car with us that long. We mapped a route dancing up the Continental Divide through the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Park.
On the day we were to leave Austin — July 2, a typical Texas summer day — Lucas emerged from his room wearing a heavy winter jacket, long pants and gloves and hat.
“Why are you dressed like that?” I asked.
“We’re going to Alaska, right?” he asked.
“Um, yes — but we won’t be there for a couple of weeks.”
He looked a little crestfallen as he went back to change into summer clothes.
New Year’s 2000
All our holiday plans fell through later that year due to the flu. I got it first, then everyone else: Lucas, then Sara, and finally, Sara’s mom, Ginny, visiting from New England. We flooded ourselves with fluids, fought the fever with meds, and eased our body aches with rest in bed, as best we could with no one entirely well. This went on for nearly a week, and we were all pretty much exhausted and out of sorts.
Ginny took it the worst, saying she’d never had the flu before. Certainly, she didn’t seem to understand the ebb and flow of energy and fever characteristic of the flu. She’d feel better in the morning, and we’d find her puttering about doing things, only of course, to collapse in fevered exhaustion shortly thereafter, feeling worse than before.
Sara fretted her mom was getting worse daily. Ginny wouldn’t listen, and Sara, in frustration, ended up confronting her, warning she’d end up in the hospital if she didn’t take care of herself. Ginny snapped that she wasn’t a child and she would be just fine. The two of them had reached shouting level when Lucas marched into the room and stood directly between them and said, “Both of you stop it RIGHT NOW!”
They both stopped, startled. He turned to Sara and said, “You stop because she’s your Mother!’ and then before Ginny could react, turned to her and said, “And YOU stop because SHE’S right!”
Nailed it, kid — love you, Lucas.