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View from the pew

February 15, 2002|By JERRY GODSEY

(Special to this newspaper)

There is an empty bedroom at the end of my hallway.

My oldest son, Isaac, is gone. As I write this he is at the Great Lakes Naval Training Facility in Illinois, at Navy boot camp. There is also an empty hole in my heart.

"Honey, wake up." My wife's melodious voice gently urged me back to the land of the conscious. I mumbled something about wanting to sleep longer and tried to roll over but her voice called out to me again. "Jerry, I want you to see this."

I opened one eye and saw my wife holding a little mirror device about three inches from my face. She wasn't being mean: She had to hold it that close, since I'm almost blind without my glasses. It's horrible. I squint and wrinkle my forehead. It's like an episode of "Mr. Mole Comes to Town."


I focused on the mirror and saw a "+". Yeah, so what? Is this some new kind of math manipulative? So?

"It's positive," she whispered, "I'm pregnant."

Pregnant! You cannot imagine the joy that rolled through my heart. My wife was going to have a baby! A baby! And I had helped!

A few months later my son Isaac was born. I just knew he was going to be a boy. When he made his grand appearance, I looked down at my newborn son and one thought flooded my mind. "Oh my Lord, he looks like Edward G. Robinson!" We had waited nine months to see our son, and he looked like a guy from old gangster movies. My wife tries to convince me that new babies are cute. They are not. They are slimy, stinky and their heads are shaped like dunce caps. It's not their fault. Your head would look like that, too, if you had just gone through the "Play-Dough Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop" of the birth canal. The nurse must have seen my worried look because she hurriedly assured me that after they had cleaned him up he would look OK, and he did. He still looked like Edward G. Robinson, or a pomegranate, but at least he wasn't slimy.

Isaac doesn't look anything like Edward G. Robinson anymore. Unfortunately, he does look like his dad. Sorry, son.

I am immensely proud of my son, and for good reason. His eighth-grade test scores ranked him in the top 10 percent of students in the country. He was a good athlete. He is devastatingly handsome ( I told you he looks like me!) and he is well-liked by his peers.

While I am thankful for those things, they are not the reason I am most proud of my son. Many other teens possess those qualities. They also possess green hair and earrings in their noses. The thing I am most proud of in my son is his commitment to Christ.

Isaac has always been a good kid, but now he is becoming a fine young man. We have been through a lot together. From the time he danced like Pee Wee Herman at youth camp to the time he mooned the pastor's wife in El Cajon to the time Isaac made me as proud as I could be. Isaac was playing T-ball on the As. I was the coach, and we were having a ball. Isaac was not a big home run hitter, but my friend's son was. I was kind of frustrated by this until I saw Isaac put his arm around a crying kid on the bench who had struck out. Isaac told him, "That's OK, Zach. You'll get a hit next time." Forget about being a home run hitter. My son was more than that. He was a caring and compassionate human.

I am not ready for my son to grow up, but he seems to have done it anyway. He has begun the first steps toward full manhood. For the next couple of weeks I will not even be able to contact him. He is out of my reach, out of my sight, out of my protection. He will have to make his own mark in a new world. He will have to deal with people who do not share his Christian beliefs.

At some point each parent must "cut the apron strings." I guess my time is now. Isaac has had 19 years of watching me, listening to me (most of the time), and learning from me and others. Now it is time for all of us who poured so much into him to see how it all pans out. While this is a frightening thought to me, I am not worried. He'll make it. After all, he survived the "Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop." After that, life will seem like a breeze!

Growing older and watching my kid grow into a man … Jerry

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