Dear Son,

It’s hard to believe you are an adult now, graduated from high school and heading off to college in a few weeks. You are looking forward to leaving us, I know, but just remember that these years have been pretty good—definitely the brightest in my lifetime (even though I used to say my “glory days” were my high school years, or did I say my 20s?). It doesn’t really matter what I said before, the years with you and your brothers have truly been the best. You have brought me so much happiness, and I count my blessings that you were gifted to me. And, yes, you are a gift.

Your infant and toddler years flew by. With two older brothers, we were constantly on the go, toting you around with us everywhere we went. “Just give him a few Goldfish crackers or chocolate chip cookies and he is good-to-go for another hour at the soccer match or baseball game.” And then again, “Bring him a book and he will be occupied for even more time.” It was constant minivan motion—loading you and your brothers and all their sports gear—and driving to the next activity. Plopped down on a blanket, you kept busy with snacks and books. OK, so you turned into a slightly chubby reader. Not such a terrible thing. 

You were so good-natured that I didn’t mind letting you watch TV and play on the computer (much more than your brothers were ever allowed to do). So, you turned into a slightly chubby reader, television viewer, and computer nerd. Again, not so bad.

Now look at you today. Not so chubby, not much of a reader (at least not for leisure), but certainly a TV hog and keyboarding king. Some things are just meant to be.

Anyway, this letter isn’t about these silly things. What I want to say to you is this . . . 

I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. Yes, I know you are only at the tip-of-the-iceberg when it comes to your lifetime’s worth of successes, but the road ahead looks promising and the reward well within your grasp. There will be bumps along the way, but those obstacles will make you stronger and most likely, since you are so stubborn, only push you harder to reach the end prize. I sense that your strong ambition and determination will be the cornerstone of the life you choose to build.

Dear, you are an honorable guy, who, although he likes to act like these traits don’t matter, has high principles and morals. You are a young man who is self-sufficient and independent to the utmost degree but doesn’t mind setting aside his own wants and desires to lend a hand when needed. You have always been a caring son and a loving brother, cousin, and grandchild (but, again, wouldn’t want anyone to think these things . . . very uncool). I applaud the way you reach out to others with kindness and grace, embracing and accepting all, even to those “misfits” who might not otherwise have a listening ear and concerned friend. I’ve rarely, if ever, heard you gossip or treat others in a degrading way. Your love and compassion will take you far in life.

Continue to stay true to yourself. You’ve never really cared about what others think of you and that’s a good thing. Be strong and don’t follow the crowd. Always travel the righteous road; it won’t lead you astray. Pursue your dreams, even if others call you “crazy” for trying something new or venturing into unchartered territories. Being a little “crazy” and adventurous allows your spirit to soar and soul to flourish.

And, please know that, although you might not have the time or unfortunately take the time, I will say a few prayers for you and ask our Lord to keep you in His arms and guide you along as you encounter difficulties along the way. A little help doesn’t hurt.

Remember to call home. Enjoy yourself. Follow your passions. Use your gifts for the greater good. Shun materialism. And always remain the Goldfish-snacking, TV-bingeing, computer nerd that I love. You can’t go wrong. (And if you ever doubt yourself, just ask me.)


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Patricia Mattheiss

I am an emerging non-fiction writer from Towson, Maryland with two crazy mutts and house full of memories. 

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