The way I signed the family mail at Christmas… Christmas Blessings to you and yours from Tom, Lib, Lisa, and Richard… It was the same with Easter cards, Birthday and Mother’s and Father’s Day cards from 1972 forward until all were educated, married, and setting up households of their own. Tom, Lib, Lisa, and Richard is who we were. The nuclear family… the Fab Four of the original household of Tom and Lib.
I remember part of the poem I wrote when Richard was about ten years old and it struck me that he was always “and Richard” as if he were some addendum to what was already. I could not find the poem tonight; it is carefully stored somewhere in the volumes of writing I have scattered in journals through the years. But I remember the sentiment.
This boy who was and is in my heart for all his life was never an addendum. He was more like a ventricle pumping life and goodness into our family from his beginning. “And Richard” was the completion our family found in his birth 42 years ago come 2 o’clock a.m. on April 9. His sister was one of his great welcomers into the world. She held him in the car on the way home from the hospital. (Don’t tell OSHA.) She was not only his sister, but a true part of his early motherhood shared with me.
His growing up was filled with joy and challenge. Our neighbors said he was an adult living in a child’s body. His wit and wisdom were born into him. His fourth grade teacher said having him in the room with her was like having another adult there, one who understood nuanced humor and could banter like a grown up. He took on care and concern and worry early in his life; it still keeps him awake in the night.
He answers his own call to ministry serving as an active lay person in the church, a music leader, teacher, and worship leader. He bears deep concern for the church and the future of the faith. Wonder where he got that? His entrepreneurial spirit was born into him, a gift from his father. We saw it when we were on a trip to Thomas Edison’s summer home and laboratory. On the way home he designed inventions for 12 hours. He’s still doing that kind of work. Apples do not fall far from trees after all.
We knew his gifts for the world, what we did not know was how he would direct them through his adult life. He has blessed us in the witness of his life with his marriage and family – all spectacular in my book. He blesses us in the way he conducts his professional life, creative, kind, fair and compassionate. He works hard and I pray he is finding reward in all he is about.
Years ago he joined a band called “Mid Life Crisis.” It seemed a premature name for such young men in the group. “And Richard” is now living into the name. He wrote a song for his Granddad in 1990 about how he was glad he was born to be a grandson. I am glad Richard was born to be my son. What blessing is mine tonight as I think about him and give thanks for him.
Words from Psalm 118 ring in my heart tonight…”O give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His steadfast love endures forever.” Life and love continue forever in God’s plan. We are blessed when we abide in the knowledge of God’s goodness and love. “And Richard” reminds me of God’s goodness all around.
April 9, 2014 is Richard’s 42nd birthday. Thank you, God, for Tom, Lisa, and – especially tonight – Richard. Amen.