Sunday, February 27, 2005

Your brother Joe is cute - but he is also a budding thief. Today Jack, Joe and I were walking in Georgetown and Joe grabbed a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup from the shoe shine stand in Georgetown Park Mall. As we were walking along, I saw these two guys point at Joe and laugh but I couldn't figure out what was so funny. Then I saw this orange wrapper peeking out from his hands clamped over his chest.

It took me a second to realize what happened and then I made him walk back and return it to the display. I knelt down next to him and told him that you cannot take things that don't belong to you. That you need to ask Mommy and Daddy if you want something, and then if it is okay, we pay money for it. I then told him that you can go to jail, and not the "Daddy Jail" when we wrestle, but real jail. I hope it sunk in. I think Jack was probably loving it.

The problem is that this is the second time in about a month that he has done this. When we went skiing, Joe walked out of the sweet shop in the lodge with a Tootsie Roll. I made him take it back, and told him then that it is wrong to just take things that don't belong to you.

I went on to explain to him how Tootsie Rolls were a favorite of yours. I told him how we used to watch that Redskins video I have showing Darrell Green pulling a Tootsie Roll out of his sock and saying how they makes you run faster.

The really super weird thing was later that evening everyone was watching TV and they played that same video because Darrell Green was running in the NFL's Fastest Man competition at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. He is 45 and did really well, though he didn't win. I couldn't believe that coincidence.

You know how I am so into coincidences. Yesterday, I was looking at the first page of this book on Amazon that I had ordered a while ago but haven't gotten yet. I got an email from Amazon telling me the book -- which is a lot like this blog because it was written by a dad who lost his son -- was out of print. So I was checking it out online and I read the first line of the first page which says,

"In moments when I try to recall what my life was like when I was happy, I think of the Paratrooper ride on the boardwalk at Rehoboth, Delaware."

That sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it.

Mom wrote this:

"I had ridden the Paratrooper with friends in grade school; boyfriends in college and Allen as a newlywed. But nothing prepared me for a ride with Henry. It all started with that look, that Henry look where his eyes sparkled extra bright and his double dimples were tempting me to stick my fingers in or just gobble him up. And then he said, “You know mom, if you want to go, I’ll go with you.” Of course I wanted to go. After Henry first made me a mom and I had had time to think about all the stuff I wanted to do with him, one of the first things that occurred to me was I couldn’t wait to take him to Funland, just like my parents had when I was a kid. I couldn’t wait to watch him ring the bell on the fire engine or to ride on the carousel, but most of all, I couldn’t wait to ride the Paratrooper with my boy."

The book I ordered, Only Spring, was written by Dr. Gordon Livingston who lives in Maryland. He wrote the book that I read last month on vacation called Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart. It was really good and made me want to read more from him. When I looked him up on the Internet and saw that he wrote a book based on his journal that he kept when his son was dying after a bone marrow transplant, I knew that I needed to read it.

He has lost two sons, which is so incredibly sad. His one son's transplant was back in 1992, I think. From what I have read, Dr. Livingston is very wise and compassionate, and I am interested in reading more that he has written. I know it will rip my heart out to read Only Spring, but I think it is a healthy thing to do.

This week I went to a lunch and listened to a woman speak who has lost 4 children. Her name is Jeni and she is the mom of Mattie Stepanek. I wrote to you about him when he died a few months ago. The lunch was sponsored by a group called Heartsongs and it honored Mattie and his mom to raise money for Children's Hospital here in DC. The organizers let us sell Hope for Henry "Live Well Laugh Hard" wristbands and we made a lot of money, too.

Mattie's mom was amazing. She didn't cry talking about him -- she made everyone else cry. I couldn't do what she did. She was so impressive. It was nice to learn all about Mattie. He sounded so much like you. He was an expert on everything Harry Potter and like you made all of his nurses fall in love with him. But what you two really shared was your special outlook on life. Mattie's motto was "Remember to play after every storm," and Mom wrote about you, "He had ice cream for dinner and transitioned from the hospital to running a lemonade stand in a matter of minutes."

I wish I can describe you to people the way that Jeni described Mattie. You really got to know just how special he was.

After the lunch I went over to Children's Hospital with a friend from work for a meeting with people there. One interesting this is that Dr. Jonas, the doctor who fixed your heart in Boston, is now working here in Washington at Children's. Wouldn't that have been easier.

When I got over there, it struck me as not the nicest hospital I have ever been to - and you know I have been to a bunch. We actually ended up there with you twice for different things. Walking around the floors this time I couldn't help but notice that it was really crowded and just felt sad.

The good news it they are building a new building and it will be a lot nicer than what is there now. We are going to help put in great TVs and XM radios and stuff for the kids and families. Don't you think that children's hospitals need to be the nicest, most fun places on earth.

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