Letters and Diary Non-Fiction posted September 9, 2012

This work has reached the exceptional level
a continuing reflection of an ancient post

Bottom of the Genetic Pool

by Spiritual Echo

Michael, when you were sixteen years old, a woman from my office, Marisa, came to the cottage with her five-year-old son for the weekend.

In spite of the fact that you were a wilful, opinionated child, whose sole purpose seemed to thrive by pushing my buttons and testing limits, I'd never experienced such an obnoxious child as the boy we entertained that weekend.

While I fluctuated between admiration for your creativity and dismay at my heart's survival to the challenges in parenting you, nothing prepared me for the interaction between a business colleague I admired and this tyrant she birthed.

He smacked his mother every hour, treated both Ivan and me with surly disdain. He had no manners or respect outside his narcissistic self-indulgence. His mother laughed through it all, and it was apparent that his behaviour was normal. On Sunday afternoon you were sitting on the sectional couch under the loft talking to me. The devil-child waltzed by and climbed the stairs. I was aware of him lingering on the landing, but by then my only remaining defence was to ignore him. I hoped his mother would evacuate my personal space soon. Without warning, the boy launched himself like a flying squirrel, landing on your back. I gasped, certain you would kill the little bastard, but you flipped him over your shoulder, stood him up while squarely looking him in the eye and said, "You will never do that again. Do you understand?"

It was the first time I saw the monster cower all weekend, but more shocking was your complete self control and arbitrary right to discipline rather than react. It should have been my first lesson in the kind of father you would become. Instead, I walked around for weeks reliving that incident and wondered where that sense of calm came from. You had anger management issues throughout your childhood and I had a difficult time reconciling your behaviour towards that child with my history with you.

The next time I was offered a glimpse of things yet to come was after Alexandra, Mirella's daughter, was born. We were at her home for the infant's baptismal. I have never stopped loving Mirella. She is the best friend I ever had in my life, but I have survived my grieving for our lost friendship. Back then, I was active in her life and heart.

Everybody wanted to hold Alex and even I spent a few minutes cradling her child. I knew with absolute certainty how Mirella's heart would grow and expand with every day and each moment that Alex would spend in her life. I only had to look up into your eyes to remember the beginning of my journey. You were seventeen and gorgeous. Every time I looked for you, you were cradling the baby and the look of melted butter, soft strength on your face defied my understanding of your nature. It is memorialized in a photograph. Somewhere in my unopened box of treasures there is a calendar that Mirella gave me for Christmas one year. I forget the month, but I'll never forget the tenderness.

Heroism is rewarded by public attention. There are anxious photographers and greedy readers who want proof that there are real life super heros; ceremonies and medals to acknowledge the kings and queens that brush by us on subways. Rarely do ordinary people credit themselves for living up to their convictions, sacrificing their immediate needs, their potential dreams, for the privilege to save or nurture and care for the vulnerable. But,I have witnessed you do that, day in and day out.

You never had to question the meaning of your life. In my mind you were destined to save Aiden. Sometimes I tell my precious grandson that you are a real life hero. I tell him that you fought for him without shields or lasers and your heart was your only weapon. I am convinced I bore him, but I want my words to be burned into his memory banks so that when the time comes when he has the entire truth revealed to him, he will know that he was worth it, and that we both loved him unconditionally.

There came a point when I understood that you were born to be a leader, a mentor and a father. I pictured you with a half dozen rug rats, each one the apple of your eye; every one having a lease-hold on your lap and in your day.

Delores, in spite of her incessant nudges to lighten up, has also told me that cheap lessons aren't worth memory cells and that challenges, and obstacles, are placed in our way by bored gods who want to play chess games in their spiritual world, using us as pawns. But, it hurt and I bled as I watched your journey into enlightenment. You were the only one I birthed and I punished myself for your bad decisions.

There was no rescue. You needed to find your own way. I mourned. I was supposed to fix every boo-boo and kiss away your tears, but I was consumed with my own.

There was a moment after Alexis' birth when I absolutely lost all doubts.

Aiden had spent a few hours at my home while you went back to Hamilton. Your little girl was in NICU, still struggling with her will to live. Your wife was her guardian and you tried to maintain a fragile balance between business responsibilities, the confusion of a three year old's world and your deep devotion to your daughter.

You spent the night at the hospital offering your fingers through the portals of the incubator as tangible proof of your indestructible love, photographing your daughter, then returning home, picking up your boy, tucking him in with kisses and reassurances. You sat up watching the videos.

The phone rang. "I have to go back. I didn't see it when I was there. My daughter is crying. I need to go back to the hospital."

A sleepy boy, a very unhappy boy, was brought back to my home and spent an angry night protesting the deprivation of attention, the loss of both parents to a sibling he was ill prepared to love from his perspective.

All the disappointing report cards slipped away. Every complaint and pent up gripes disappeared that night. I wrote off debts and endured deliberate, though admittedly unconscious, leg butts to my sensibilities.

Heroism begins with convictions. Delores continues to be easier to talk to than the Almighty and I try to maintain a daily dialogue with my ambassador to God, depending on her benevolence to plead my case for mercy.

You, my son, found God through your own set of miracles and you will continue to be an undecorated hero in my life.

While we continue to search for an absolute definition to explain the miracles of our earthly existence, nothing pleases me more than watching the petals peal back. The law of probabilities will likely ensure that even I will be part of a genetic pool that will create an heir that will take simple love and save millions. Your love will survive generations.

Story of the Month contest entry


My son, Michael, is the custodial and only parent to his two children. For those who may be interested, I will re-promote his story entitled "Michael's Life Decision" written by both myself and my son. His innocence in sending me his late night story, not realizing that my heartfelt understanding of his pain might one day become public, is to be treated with compassion.

This story is about many family tragedies. The hopes squandered in self-important distraction, the loss of faith in basic kindness and the mistakes parents make in judging their children without giving them a chance to live up to the parents' expectations.

In my case, I admit freely, that Michael is a far better man than I ever expected to birth, let alone know.

Today his son is seven years old and Alexis is four. She started school this week in the shadow of Aiden's challenging first three years at the same school. She is destined to receive straight A report cards based on her survival instinct and her inate charm and passion for life.

A far cry from her ridiculously low birth weight and the five months she spent in the hospital.
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