Today is Nate Jr’s 16th Birthday.

I can’t call it a “sweet” 16 as he wouldn’t like that much.  He’s much too manly for that.  Hahaha.

I commend and respect the efforts he made to keep me in his life after the divorce as I believe they were genuine.  He was the only one who wanted a real relationship with me after.  He never forgot who I am.  He has a big heart.

The last time I saw him (344 days ago) he had asked to go to the store with me.  I had told him I didn’t have much money at the time, but he insisted it was just to be with me and that he would buy what he wanted from the store himself and just hang out with me.  We had a great time together.  Laughing, joking and just “shooting the shit”.

He was my “little-man” for so many years.  But he grew up so much since the divorce.

He’s much taller than me now.  He got that from his mother’s side of the family.  He grew his hair out long last time I saw him.  He had this skater-look haircut.  Long and curly.  I think he’s still trying to hold onto his favorite Red Sox player…Johnny Damon (he was devastated when he left the Red Sox to go to the Yankees).  He should enjoy it while he can as the genes won’t be so kind to him in the future in the hair department.  He just needs to look at me to realize that.  Hahaha.

We had gone sneaker shopping shortly before that and he needed a size 12.  What?  When did that happen?  I’m only a size 10 1/2.  He was 14 years old with a size 12?  Crazy.  What did I feed this kid?

I hold onto the memories of our times together like GOLD.  Playing “army-man” in the backyard because he loved the military and the fact that I was in the Marine Corps.  He was always proud of me and my service and always told me so (he was the only one who ever did).  He wore my Marine Corps cover (hat) all the time.  He was so proud to wear it.  Teaching him how to ride his bike and a couple of years later him doing jumps and flips on his BMX.  He was a natural.  The time I did BMX jumps with him and I tried to jump off of a recycling bin.  The recycling bin slid out from under the tire and I landed flat on my face!  It was hilarious.  We laughed for hours as I nursed the road-burn on my face.  The time we met an actual Olympic Gold-Medalist (wrestler Henry Cejudo).  He held the gold-medal in his hand and it was bigger than his hand at the time.  His first Red Sox game we went to together.  We were actually seen on television on NESN together in the stands.  It was awesome!  I had never been on television before and to share that moment with my son was the greatest.  Bringing him to the Red Sox Championship parade in 2007 & 2013, standing with him on my shoulders the entire time so he could see the players.  Yes, I had a 13 year-old boy on my shoulders for hours so he could see his favorite players.  It’s what dads do.

So many memories that I’ll cherish forever.

He texted me a couple of times since I last saw him.  I hope he understands that it wasn’t by my choice but by the choices of others that I can’t have any contact with him.  Someday soon we will reunite again and I can’t wait to see him.  I’ll cry but only to teach him that it’s OK for a REAL man to cry.

Happy Birthday “Little-Man”.  I love and miss you.

Dad.

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This before we left for his first game.  *Look at that SMILE on his face*

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