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  • Like my father before me, I find myself inclined to speak of my son on Father's Day, and my own fatherhood of him.

    I have held many jobs in my lifetime. Literally dozens of them. None match the devotion nor the importance I place on my job as your father, J.B. No other job have I taken as seriously as I have taken this one, and no other job has been infused with the intention that being a father to you has been infused with.

    I am sure that it doesn’t always seem that way to you. But that’s o.k. I get it. I was once your age, too, and I know how things look from that perspective. I gave my father a much tougher time than you have ever given me. And I was one of 7, whereas there is just you. I have a much easier job than he ever did.

    Never have I been prouder of anything in life than I have of you and your accomplishments. You amaze me, in more ways than I can count. I don’t know if you noticed, among the hundreds of parents who stood in that field in the middle of the University of Mary Washington campus the day you graduated, that one father out there was beaming with more pride than any of the others. Yeah, that was me. Bet you thought that was just the sunshine. It was. The sunshine of my love for you. You have no idea how deep that love and pride runs.

    Neither of your parents had accomplished what you had on that day. You did in 3 ½ years what I have spent 40 years working on, and your mother 32 years. Glad to see someone in the family could finally nail down a degree! The writer that you have become impresses me even more than your accomplishment of a degree. It actually kind of intimidates me, but I manage to get over that. I really appreciated your Christmas gift of poems you had written. I know I kind of blew your trust when I shared your poem about growing up in the house by the lake with the whole family. Again, that stemmed from my pride in you, misguided though my action may have been. It’s hard to hold that back.

    But that’s just a small part of the pride I have for you, J.B. The larger part stems from the love that is so evident in your life. The friendships you have made and cultivated. So many people obviously love you, and you bring your own unique brand of warmth, humor and thoughtfulness to the lives of so many.

    The courage that you’ve demonstrated in critical moments of your life really floors me. I had no such courage at your age. I was prone to holding things inside and hiding who I was from people, hiding how I felt and what I valued, even from myself. This would result in paralyzing, months-long bouts of depression that nearly killed me, on more than one occasion. I had a brief moment of fear, as you faced the biggest challenge of your college career, that this was a hereditary trait and that it would affect you as it did me. However, you showed a resilience in the face of that challenge, and a support network you had faithfully cultivated that wound up pulling you through that challenge, rendering my fears misplaced. Thank God!

    As you stand on the threshold of your post-college life, I have no doubt that you are going to be wildly successful at whatever you wind up doing. This is based on what I have learned about you these past 22 years. You have a way with people. You know how to give and how to receive genuine love. You are resilient, bouncing back from life’s set-backs, of which you have experienced your share. More importantly, you know how to embrace the joys in life, and to share and spread those joys. You are a bright light that beams through the lives that you touch, bringing smiles and laughter to those you touch.

    These things will lead you to a wildly successful life, upon whichever path you wind up choosing. Whether that path leads you far away from us, physically, or keeps you close by, we will always be by your side, in your corner, and I will be your biggest champion. I do not deserve a son like you, but I consider you my life’s richest blessing. Fathering you has been the best job I’ve ever had, and the pay can’t be beat. I love you, J.B.!
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