His Own Man

Our Jack was born way up north. He came into the world during those gloriously long – hot days of the summer that his mom loves with her whole being. That August the northern lights danced across the dark nighttime Minnesota skies and kept Jason – Jack and me company as we took our first slow walks together as a family of 3.

I remember doing the math. I remember saying to Jason – “Our Jack will graduate from high school in 2022!”

Imagine that . . . 2022. Almost 2 decades away. Jack will be 18 years old. Our tiny baby boy will be all grown-up! And we will be almost 50!!!!!

I wondered what our baby Jack would be like when he was all grown up.   Who our Jack would become . . . What his likes and dislikes and what his passions would be . . . Would he look like Jason or me or would he look like Jack?   Would Jack enter college with a laser focus like me or have a more laissez faire attitude to life?

Becoming a Junior Park Ranger in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. This was a BIG day!

I wondered what our family would be like. Would Jack have a sibling or would this beautiful baby who never – ever seemed to sleep break us and be an only child? Where would our family live? What twists and turns would life hold for our sweet baby and our family as we grew together over the next 18 years . . .

And in a flash and the blink of an eye – I know the answer to many of these questions.

Jack is passionate about animals! Jack loves animals and has his sights firmly set on becoming a veterinarian.   Thankfully – Jack also loves and excels at calculus and biology and chemistry. Math and science are Jack’s jam!

He is also passionate about the baby brother who arrived in his life when Jack was 9. (There is only 1 person on the planet who can mess with Will and that is Jack.   Everyone else gets the evil eye.   And honestly – Jack’s evil eye is kinda scary. It makes you wonder what Jack is plotting behind those dark brown – disapproving eyes . . .   I have always believed it is the quiet – smart ones that need the most watching – btw!)

I love this photo of Jason that Jack took.

Jack loves art and is incredibly creative and talented – but he doesn’t enjoy reading (Sigh – you can’t win them all . . . ) Jack’s black and white film photography is seriously cool.   I love seeing the world through his eyes. I look forward to each new roll of film.

Jack is intelligent. (One of the valedictorians of his graduating class and a full-ride scholarship to college.   Oops – sorry for the really bad brag!   BUT I AM JUST SO PROUD OF OUR BOY!)

Jack is helpful and generous and kind. Jack prepares the Communion and sanctuary for worship every single Sunday morning. He records the worship service and changes the eternal candle and unlocks the doors while I turn on the lights and make the coffee and prep the Sunday school rooms and my sermon. Once Jack leaves for college – I am going to need to leave for church a lot earlier on Sunday mornings! (Or the Lutherans of Saint Stephen will need to form a whole new committee . . .)

Jack is a procrastinator. Perhaps this trait skips a generation in McFarland men – because his beloved Papa is a bit of a procrastinator himself . . . I do not understand this at ALL – but this is very much a part of who our oldest son is.

I think of this picture as “tolerating Mom and her camera . . . “

Jack looks just like – Jack. He has many of his dad’s mannerisms and I find myself laughing when Jack “does a Jason!” (He did inherit dimples in his ears from his quirky mom . . . It was the first thing I noticed about my baby boy on the night he was born.) But Jack simply looks like Jack.

And that sums it up. Jack has grown up to be Jack.

Jack graduated from duPont Manual High School on Friday morning at Freedom Hall.

I sat with Jason and Will and Caitlyn (Jack’s wonderful girlfriend) and Rebecca (Caitlyn’s equally wonderful mom).

“John Stuart McFarland (row 10 – seat 7) – valedictorian” announced his principal as a tall – confident – dignified young man walked across the stage to receive his diploma.

“That’s our son – our boy – all-grown up into a man” – I said to Jason with my eyes (Jason and I have been friends since we were 16 and a couple since we were 18 – like many old married couples – we don’t always need words to have a conversation . . .)

I played Uno with Will (graduations are painfully boring) and let the

memories wash over me in waves . . . Some of them were gentle and others crashed. Tears streamed down my face more than once . . . Our Jack . . . oh my . . . our Jack is all grown up! And it simply took my breath away.

Jason understood. He knew.   Jason has been hanging out with me for over 30 years now. He knew what to expect. He knew there would be tears and lots of reflection. I am BIG on reflection. And prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude. Oh my – yes! (The McFarlands are just thankful I have this blog to hold some of my reflections – it saves them some active listening time. Or not!?!?!?!?!)

I remembered and gave thanks for the memories and the laughter and the joy and the seemingly endless blessings of knowing and loving and sharing this life with my sons and husband have given me. So very many blessings!

And one of Caitlyn’s BIG day too!

I gave thanks for the snakes and toads and Sharpies and piles of laundry and chicken nuggets and apple sauce galore. I gave thanks for the homework (but not the science fair projects – I will always despise those with a white hot fury!) and the backpacks and the lunch boxes and the trips to the bus stop and the school uniforms. I gave thanks for the blue sand and the Wiggles and the Legos and the hoodies and the endless miles driven and walked and rocked and patted.

Quite simply – I gave thanks for the past 18 years with Jack and Jason (and then with our Will). Oh – what a wonderful adventure these years have been.

I wonder what the next 18 will hold . . .

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