Happy Birthday, My Son

Father and SonThe photo you see here is one that no one but myself has had. A moment in time when you and I had our first chat. It isn’t easy to say what things we shared. Not when so much has passed us by. But on that day, for a moment, it was just you and me. I told you of the things I dreamed for you. I told you of my love for your mother. Of my fears and misgivings of how I prayed I might do a good job raising you. Trying to do what would be right.

Do you remember that father and son’s outing where we went to the mountains near Flagstaff? We stopped at a small diner for a meal. Not an hour later we needed to turn back as I dealt with food poisoning? You, a very special young man, kept telling me it was alright. Holding me close, hopeful that it would be alright once we got home. Telling me the whole time that you and your Mother would make me well. Incessantly telling me how she had made you well, your sisters well — time after time…. You held me close and finally drifted off to sleep while I marveled at so great a faith inside this tiny man.

The first guitar I got you for Christmas was never really used. I showed only you what music could come from something so foreign. I didn’t know you were listening. Not until you decided to give it a try years later. You told a friend that you could never match my abilities. No… you could not. For your skills had already far surpassed mine.

I didn’t realize you were even listening when we we met people from different countries while flying to the United Kingdom. Necessity and genuine interest led me to speak with others in their native tongues, all I concerned myself with was your having motion sickness. Desperately wanting you well. But still, you watched. You decided which parts of my life were important enough to follow. Then, went on to make your own path. I was proud even more as you felt no shame when we toured Korea. Holding the hand of your father as we walked, and walked… and walked some more. Then negotiating in the marketplace with a few words of your own in the Korean language. Laughingly letting me know you couldn’t fail to learn when I so often played the language tapes while we traveled the highways at home.

When you voiced that you, maybe, didn’t want to go on a Mission, I told you that would be “your choice.” Even as others condemned me for not insisting you would go. When that choice came, you decided what was right. Do you remember what you told me? You said, “Dad, I know the Olympics is something great. But, I want to serve a Mission. God has been good to us. And, I want to give Him something back. The Olympics will be there when I get home, if I want them.” My smile within was for the man you had become. That grown up spirit fitting the man then standing before me.

What must I tell this man, my son, on his Birthday. He who has a wonderful wife and two loving children of his own? Maybe the second half of that talk we had so long ago — about how precious a thing it was in choosing Your Name. Of what it means to hold dear your own reputation. You see, your Mother stated often that it doesn’t matter what others may say or think of you. I would add; What matters more is what you think of yourself. Many choose to cast off their names for one reason or another. Pretending they can change their nature, or the nature of things around them by doing so. Hiding from hard truths. But, no… I asked you to be the man who took care of your Mother and Sisters.

For you, I give hard words. The truth of things yet to come. That you may now be the man I have waited so long to see.

Doctrine and Covenants 121: 43 – “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou has reproved lest he esteem thee to be his enemy.”

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As you have chosen a place in law, I will give you a scene to contemplate:

A man and woman stood in the hallway before court. They were speaking with the husband’s attorney. Complaining that the attorney had abandoned his duty to protect his client. Rejecting all that was promised to have the case be over. Attempting to fire that attorney. The attorney promising to bring the matter before the judge. There were others there to assist, other attorneys, doctors, and witnesses who had been paid to bring hidden things to the court’s attention.

When the case commenced, another attorney (a friend of the court), paid handsomely, capitulated under implied threat by the judge. His evidence scoffed at and moved to the left. The man, whose wife sat behind him a distance, was handed a file extended by the prosecutor to his defense counsel. In this file were documents his wife had executed, with the help of “friends.” Documents exposing a fraud, however well intentioned, not to be overcome. Prepared by the two, without the husband’s knowledge.

The simplicity of an attached “post it” note; “If you leave here today, your wife will not.”

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You seek to be a just man. Eschewing the ills of the world in the hope of making a difference. But, never will you see behind the motives of those you defend. Some who are innocent will fall. Others despicably guilty of perverse crimes will go free. A prosecutor or agent will seek to make a name for himself. Or simply be justifying his salary. For not everyone will maintain the high ideals held when they set-out.

As for the man? Put yourself in his place and your metal will be tested. For what man would permit the mother of his children to endure trials he had barely survived? It is not a question of; “What would Christ do?” For it was not Christ the man thought of when he saw what was before him. It was the face of his wife and children. The knowledge that a greater law must be preserved. And faith, that a promise forced upon a man/boy… “Promise me you will not return before your Mission is fully served.”

Son. In the quiet of a sleepless night, gaze upon your sleeping children, your dear spouse. What dreams have they to live? What wonders to behold? What would you give that they remain unmolested? Let love be your legacy. Even if known only by the Almighty. Let your choices be for those who must live on. Let your tribute be to those who matter more than your own life. Serve your personal promises, that you may keep the higher law. No matter the trials, He prepares a way to come home…

You are half me. You cannot serve two masters and deny those who love you. Nor the grandchildren whose names are not even known. To do so is to deny your faith in Christ. Self-righteous indignation demonstrated against those who dearly miss you. People who love you still, praying constantly for your welfare. Keeping yourself apart for unjust reasons, there is no defense of the obscene — climbing steps of false alters, gratefully professing piety over your fellow man. What words will you answer the Father when He asks where you were when they needed you? For we are ALL our brother’s keepers.

Let people say what they will of me. But let my family be. I set free the woman whose Promises to me were all I lived for. This is why I apologize. For memories of lost things I would not speak aloud. Betrayals forever hidden under false fidelity. And you, who told me I would hate you for marrying. Could you not face me to even ask? At a distance now, I ask forgiveness. I will hold back the truth no longer.

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Doctrine and Covenants 122: 5 – 6, 9 – If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea; If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son… and if then he shall be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around like wolves for the blood of the lamb.

Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known and thy years shall not be numbered less, therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.

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There are so many things that make me proud of you. Still, I remain disappointed in your prideful neglect of those who love you from afar. Not for me my son. For it is as I had prophesied to you 10 years past — All will abandon me. Even you. And it is for this reason I had to stop the car beside the road when we parted. I could not see to drive. I could not see for the breaking of my heart at the knowledge that our family was no more.

I ask that you remember a time that seems of little consequence. We drove on the Black Canyon freeway in Phoenix, heading home near dusk. My hand in my pocket as I began to roll down the window. Of this, I have written. Do you remember the woman who stood by the way seeking employment? Do you remember that neither of us knew what was happening? That my hand withdrew $100 instead of the $10 bill… and I gave it to her.

My son, God does listen. He does use us when we are willing to be His instrument of goodness on this earth. I have endured what was written about another, for His purposes. I took upon myself things you could not bear to even know. But in doing so, I have never broken my covenants with the Father. Nor my promises to you, your Mother and sisters. That’s just who I am. That’s the truth of my name. We are all perfectly fallible. That means we get to keep working at being better — even if it means exposing things about our lives that may seem a betrayal.

I love you, my son. No matter what. You and your family. I never stopped. That will never change. You do know some of the truth, even though you have never spoken of it aloud. That needs to stop. For as you judge, you will also be judged. Though not be me. I am proud of who you have always been. Now, you will see all that has remained hidden. The lies that parted us are no more.

Dad

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