To Pars from Dad
This is part of Jed's letter to Parley when he was a year and a half or so. Seemed fitting for the occasion.
A long, beautiful summer passed away this year while I was at work. A series of picnics and swimming parties for you. Your first summer walking and exploring on your own. I wish I had been there. I managed to get some pictures of you in the evenings and on Sundays. Your rosy hair turned gold. I trimmed your curls to their roots in May—or was it June? A perfect, shiny, summer buzz. I stared at you for days after the cut. I studied your thinning face. I hunted for the baby that used to gurgle and coo behind those cheeks. But you had literally transformed before me. Like Pinocchio himself, you were suddenly a real boy. You were no longer the baby in my wife’s arms. Your golden tresses see-sawed through the air like feathers, and with each sweep of the sheers you became more and more the son I had dreamed about all those years. The son who would grow to help me in the yard, and go fishing and to ball games. I could see very clearly that you would love the Red Sox.
I put the clippers down and stepped around to face you; to square-up and examine my work. I was so stunned by what I saw, I miscalculated the exposure on the photos I took moments later. Overexposed by at least a stop—maybe a stop and a half.
It’s not that I didn’t love you before. That would be incorrect. But what you became altered the quality of my vision of you. I’m having a devil of a time expressing it. I said at the time it was like a renaissance of affection, and I can’t even say that is accurate, but it feels closer. The love I had for you before the haircut didn’t change, but something did. And it surprised me. I literally stared at you the rest of the day. People fawned and pawed at you, and I could only gape.
I don’t remember the day when Hazel became a girl. When she shed her baby-ness. She grew out of it slowly. But you let yours fall from you in a single sitting, and you left it in a pile on the floor of the shed. And it was that realization that caught me off guard; that you weren’t just a passive fixture in the family anymore, but an active, functioning participant. Which is what I had dreamed you’d be—my boy, my very own. I knew you’d arrive one day, I guess I hadn’t thought it would happen right in front of me.
I’m not sure the pictures will do it justice. You’ll go back when you read this to look at the before and after. And you won’t see it. You’d have to look through my eyes and that, my son, is a blessing that is only mine. But if you could, for only a minute, have seen it the way I did… the way it narrowed your jaw and sharpened your brow… the way your new stubble held the sun like September barley… you’d know what a blessing it is.