Our relationship has moved onto the next plateau and John Bear, by his own will, has decided to take on the daunting task of disciplining Benjamin.
Having long ago earned Benjamin’s love, John is now earning his respect. And having recently decided that this is, indeed, what I want I have learned to step back and let John do his thing.
Witnessing this all unfold has been nothing short of miraculous. The only thing I can compare it to is the first time I saw a mountain. I was 14 and crammed into the back of our mini van with one brother, another and a sister. We had been driving for two weeks, stopping every night to camp, packing up the next morning and then pressing on for Montana.
Your typical teenager, I thought I knew everything, but the mountains and their dominance were about to prove me wrong.
When we finally made it to Glacier National Park Dad pulled over into the first look out point he could find. We had seen them through the windows but this was different. Standing in their shadows the mountains suddenly came to life, commanding the Earth and owning everything around them. They quieted my racing mind and all I could do was stare in complete awe.
Which is exactly where I find myself when John is disciplining Benjamin; bringing in fresh energy and an endless supply of love – for both of us. Our little family, I now believe with absolute certainty, was meant to be. We just had to wait for the right time, the right reasons and to be sure.
During that week at Glacier we spent our days hiking or moose chasing and our nights waiting for shooting stars. My father would lie there with us on the picnic tables. We would wait, our backs pressing into the wood and our hands across our chests until we saw one.
Someone would shout.
“And another. Right there! Did you see that? There were two in a row.”
“Isn’t that amazing?” he would ask, “We can see the stars falling, all the way from here.”
He’s been gone for 11 years now. If only he could meet John. Maybe he has. John does have Dad’s middle name – Raymond.
Maybe he is here, guiding Benjamin and John along… pushing them toward the mountains, helping them to see the stars – making all of this feel so right. I have also come to realize in these years that my father was my mountain, making me believe in fatherhood, in the love a man can give to his family.
Without my father and without his memory, I wouldn’t have the faith to believe that I just may have found the same thing for his grandson.