The Duncan Banner

January 9, 2013

Dad’s annual letter to his son

Ed Darling
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Dear Grant,  I thought seriously about ending my annual year-end letter to you after our move to Duncan. I assumed our transition here and the fact you’re now 10 years old provided a natural stopping point.

And I figured, too, the exposure might embarrass you as a teen in training, that I might write something I shouldn’t or that I could expose a secret or two without even knowing.

Then, selfishly, I decided to forge on, to attempt one more time to remember with fondness our most recent 12 months and to keep alive a string of annual letters that  – including several written in anticipation of your birth — now totals 14.

Like the others, calendar year 2012 was a good one for us with more highs than lows and a smattering of milestones that will make the period memorable.

Duncan remains a happy home for us. Your circle of friends has grown in number and depth. You’re soundly entrenched as a Plato Pirate and, again, you’ve been blessed with a terrific teacher, a class and an iPad that challenges you. Having older brothers, Scott and Chris, who are Plato alums, only strengthens that bond.

We’re thrilled you love to learn and that math and reading remain particularly important and we enjoyed seeing you compete in the annual spelling bee.

It was a moment of fatherly pride, I must say, to see you put on a helmet and pads for the first time and it was fun to see the Pirates nearly win a youth football championship, knowing lessons of teamwork last forever.

Of course, there remains no doubt your team is Alabama. Your game-day intensity borders on anxiety out of control. While you support your friends who like the Sooners, Cowboys, Horned Frogs, Demons and Thunder, your elephant display and your prized collection of more than 100 items of Tide memorabilia makes your room more a shrine than a place of rest.

We didn’t make Bryant-Denny in 2012, but we saw Alabama spank Michigan in Dallas and our hopes are high for another BCS title tomorrow when we play Notre Dame. Roll Tide!

Our travels were limited some by issues with my eyesight, though we spent a delightful week in Denver, watched the Beach Boys at Red Rock, enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving lunch in Tuscaloosa and a delightful dinner in Mississippi, spent several nights in Oklahoma City, saw the Thunder play and visited family in D.C. and Natchez where your mom and you saw friends at the balloon festival.

A highlight was meeting Bennett, your new nephew and son of Scott and McKaye and playing with Aniston, their adorable daughter. Time with cousins Wyatt and Mason was also special. Visits with grandmom, granddad and Uncle Walter always seemed too short. And now that Chris has joined the Alabama athletic staff, we share your excitement about spending time with Shelley and him in my hometown.

But for whatever “going” you enjoy, coming home always seems even better. Though you’re the only youngster in the neighborhood, there is a deep comfort you feel at home whether it’s playing in the yard or enjoying an office that has become a boycave for computer research and television watching.

The hub for that at-home affection, of course, is a mom unlike anyone I’ve ever known. She’s a giver and a class act no matter what the subject. You’re lucky to be the target of those gifts and her love for you is both enviable and unconditional. That you recognize that impresses me. That you return it, impresses me more.

On a sad note, losing Oliver, our 12-year-old wirehaired Dachshund, was both surprising and painful. He had been by your side as a trusted pup and dog since your birth. He’ll not be replaced, but Jake, newly adopted from the humane society, has brought virtually endless energy to our house, spiritedly chasing Joey and giving new meaning to the role of a lap dog.

Chief among our memories will be Easter 2012. That’s when you joined our church and accepted Christ at a chilly but moving sunrise service led by your friend, Mr. Arnold. Few days, I assure you, will be more important.  I’m proud you memorized all the books of the Bible, that you have become active in church activities and that, thanks to brunches and Sunday school breakfasts, you’ve  added pigs-in-a-blanket and donuts to your list of gourmet foods that previously only included cheeseburgers, fries and CherryBerry.

The past 12 months have been full, quick and if not perfect, close. After all, we just had a white Christmas. I wish I could insert words of wisdom here, profound thoughts you’d remember forever. But all I can think of is “thanks.” Life remains good, largely because of you.

I love you,

Dad; 580-255-5354, Ext. 130