Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It's the Merry-Hearted Boys Who Make the Best Men

Grams has told you about many of the women on my walk. Now I want you to get to know my son Nick. Watching him turn into the man he is today has been one of the biggest joys of my life.

As a youngster he was always the class clown and had a reputation for disrupting class and giving teachers a hard time. He worked hard to overcome that and has grown into a good and decent man mostly through his own sheer will and determination, and his father's prayers. He managed to overcome a learning disability and earned two college degrees at the same time. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies from Schreiner University and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Technology from Texas A&M University. He earned both of them at the same time and played collegiate basketball and golf. He knew from the beginning that he wanted to be an engineer and he set his mind and focus on it and never stopped.

He has a natural athletic ability that was evident from a very early age. He learned to dribble a basketball about the same time he learned to walk.  And he's good at almost any sport he tries. He likes movies and video games.

He is kind and will never stand by silently and watch injustice. He stands up for what is right and decent. But he won't back down from a fight. When necessary he will stand up for himself, but never without fair warning. He once warned a guy in a bar who was trying to pick a fight with him "I have ADD and I'm off my meds. If I fight you I will not be able to stop."

The ease with which he understands advanced mathematics has always amazed me. (When my kids were in school, I was disappointed to discover that I don't know how to do fourth grade math.) He has an analytical mind and takes the time to mull things over and see them from different points of view. He's fair minded and a good friend. He has a large group of friends that he's been close to for years, some of them since nursery school.

He was always the sweetest child. He was the little boy who would pick flowers and bring them to me. When he was about seven years old he decided to run away from home. He only went as far as the corner of the driveway where he sat for hours tossing stones at the front door. He was always a cuddly baby and loved to sit on my lap and be rocked. When he was well into his teens, he would still occasionally drop his 6'2" body into my lap and wrap his arms around me. 

Like most parent and child relationships we had our problems. Against our advice and wishes, he withdrew from Schreiner at mid-term of his first year, walked away from his scholarship and basketball team, and transferred to Blynn Junior College in College Station to be near a girlfriend. When she broke up with him a couple of weeks later he was devastated and depressed. But after that semester he went back to Schreiner and completed his studies there. He even went back to the coach and got his position back on the basketball team. That made me very proud and gave me a glimpse of the man he would become.

The day Grandad had his heart surgery he was a rock. After everyone else had left that day, when our nerves were stretched taut after waiting for hours and hours, he walked through the restricted doors right to the coronary ICU nurses' station. He told the nurse straight out that we'd been there for more than 15 hours, we'd been told several hours earlier that we'd be able to see him soon, and then we had heard nothing more. He explained that we just needed them to tell us one way or the other. It would be fine if we weren't able to see him, but his Mom needed to go eat some dinner and get some rest. Like magic, the doors were opened and we were taken to see him.

He chose a wife who's just as smart as he is. Marie holds the same degree from TAMU that he does. And, did I mention that she's a beauty queen? She holds her own with him and doesn't take any crap from him ... and he likes that about her. He proposed to her at her graduation, in front of a packed house at Reed Arena. It was one of the sweetest and most romantic things I've ever seen. I was moved to tears and honored to be there.

I'm so proud of him and the life they are building together. They're not yet 30 years old and own a beautiful home in Houston. They both have good jobs and are building a solid life together. When I think of Nick, I think of the old Irish proverb -- "It's the merry-hearted boys who make the best men."

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