My youngest child turned 24 over the weekend, a sobering mathematical fact, which makes it increasingly difficult to claim that I am still in my forties. Actually, I’m not one of those guys who lies about his age. Whenever anyone asks me, I proudly proclaim the truth of my 55 years, since they have been hard earned and come with big benefits, chief among them, a head full of memories. Some of my best ones involve my Son.
We knew there was something strange about Patrick, when he walked out of his first Disney movie talking about nothing but the musical score. Before he was 12 he had demonstrated untaught skill in every musical instrument we ever placed in his hands. The first choir he was a member of was directed by my sister, The Praise Kids, and from her he learned that music was our gift to God, not to mention more fun than a barrel of monkeys. By the time he was introduced to Sherri Matthews at Godwin high school, it was all over and there was to be no turning back. Patrick was a musician, and that was that. He blazed through Belmont University and now Westminster Choir College, doing what he loves, making music and trying to figure out a way to get paid doing it.
But, on the occasion of his 24th birthday, I would like to brag on his non-musical gifts. Patrick has managed to develop in an industry famous for huge egos, without much of one. He has never felt intimidated by others with great talent, in fact, they inspire him. Patrick simply loves good music, regardless of who is making it. I have never heard him say a bad word about any of his classmates, never heard him denigrate anyone’s talent or lack thereof, an amazing gift.
The thing I’m most proud of in my boy is his ability to think for himself. Patrick will never be bullied into group-think. He thinks things through and comes to his own conclusions about difficult problems. He doesn’t believe a certain way just because his father does. He thinks. He researches things, listens to others and makes his own informed judgment. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t, but I’m always proud of how he arrives at his views, through careful thought, without lazy reliance on dogma. When his views aren’t popular, he has the courage to defend them. A father can’t ask for much more than that.
Patrick isn’t perfect. He is an unrepentant slob, maddeningly unorganized, and thinks that undershirts are appropriate attire for practically any occasion. But he’s 24 and still very much a work in progress. My son is a freakishly talented human being with a huge heart and boundless capacity for love and loyalty. Can’t wait to see what becomes of him.