A Forty Year Old Son

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Oct 17, 2009

"To me old age is always fifteen years older than I am."
Bernard Bachrach

Evie and I are still trying to get our minds around the fact that our oldest son, Darin, just turned forty. In addition to what that means for our own age, it also reminds us how quickly these four decades have flown by. 

Was it not just a short while ago when he arrived on that 12th day of September? Did we not just bring him home from the hospital and take that historic picture of him on that blue bedspread? Were we not just filling bottles and sharing the late night feedings? Did we not just place that money under his pillow for the first visit of the tooth fairy? 

What happened to that little boy I used to play with in the front yard? Where is that Little Leaguer swinging at those baseballs? Did we not just dress him up as a hobo to go "Trick or Treating" in our Minnesota neighborhood? 

Did we not just send him off to first grade or did we not just attend his high school or was it college graduation? Surely it was a few weeks ago when we sat as proud parents listening to his piano and violin recitals. Didn't he just learn to walk or was it ride his bike or was it drive our car? 

How is it possible for a son to go from Pennsylvania through Illinois to Minnesota at a speed that challenges the speed of light? And what about all of those vacations in our little pop-up camper to places like Old Orchard Beach, ME and the Great Smokey Mountains and the Grand Canyon? Where is that sign on the back of our van which said "California or Bust?" 

Memories like those at times like these cascade over the years like water over Niagara Falls. Tennis matches. Fondue dinners. Caring for Tiffany. Traveling overseas. Singing in the choir. Playing miniature golf. Granny's potato salad. Papa's silver dollars. Gram's home on the farm. Playing out in the snow. 

And if I took out the old slides or box of old pictures, I could add more people and places and things which we did that would take days and weeks to review. But a fortieth birthday is not merely about the past; it is also about the future. 

This year we celebrated Darin's big day with a special visit to New York City. Kevin was also here and we all drove to Trenton, NJ to take the train to the Big Apple. We will always remember our trip to NYC. The Broadway show and the view from the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Center and the dinner at that exquisite restaurant will be forever stamped on our hearts. We will add more pictures to the Meyer family album and retain even more cherished memories. 

Celebrations like that are not only about savoring the past. They are also about previewing the adventures which are yet ahead. Forty years is forty years but it is also only forty years. What limitless possibilities remain ahead. What mountains are yet to be climbed. What dreams are yet to be fulfilled. 

How long does it take a boy to become a man? Will a calendar or clock alone measure the hours or days or weeks or months or years? I think not. I have seen many old men act like little boys and it is not a pretty sight. But I have also seen a son, who will in some ways always be our little boy, act like an amazing man. 

Thank you, Darin, for all of the joy you have brought into our lives. And though your birthday reminds us that we are older, it also provides us with one more reason to say how proud of you we are and how very much we love you. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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