Christmas Day, 2018
Hans might be holding Weston right now.
In general, I prefer not to post pictures. Actually, this is probably the first time that I have ever posted a picture on this blog. I am a writer, and I take pride in the fact that I can paint a picture with words. However, I know the limits of my talent. Sometimes words fall short. So, in this case, I am reluctantly posting two images. One of them shows Hans cradling his infant son. The other image is of Weston when he was only a day old.
When I look at the picture of Hans and Weston, I remember how I felt when I looked at Hans almost thirty-two years ago. I am sure that I had the same expression on my face, and that I felt the same sense of wonder and anxiety. I don’t know how a mother feels when she holds her tiny child. I do know how a father feels. There is a mixture of pride and love and raw terror.
The feeling of terror comes from contemplating a new and totally unfamiliar future. Who is this child? Who will he become? How will I care for him? It might not be articulated, but I know that there is the sudden and powerful realization that the father is entering a whole new world. The kid did not come with an operators manual. There is an overwhelming sense of responsibility accompanied by excitement and hope.
Does every father feel these things? Maybe, maybe not. Some fathers see fit to just abandon their child. They refuse to take the next step in life as a man. Perhaps they understand that they don’t know what the hell they are doing. Well, I would argue that no father knows what he is doing. You just kind of make this shit up as you go along. Every child is a brand new adventure, and there is not template for raising a kid. Every baby is unique, and every parent likewise. A father usually only has is own childhood experiences to follow, and those can be woefully inadequate for the new situation.
I know that Hans wants certain things for Weston. He wants him to learn how to hunt and fish and drive pick up trucks. Hans often worries that Weston will grow up feeling “entitled”, like some other young people. I doubt that will be a problem. Hans wants Weston to understand the value of hard work. Hans sees a particular future for his firstborn son. Hans will be partially disappointed. Weston will become Weston, and that may not match anything that Hans imagines.
Hans will pass on certain values to his boy. Hans may not recognize this until many years from now, but someday he will see it. Hans is brave, loyal, honest, and a bit crazy. Those are all good things. Weston will be blessed if he grows up with those same traits.
Weston may very well grow up to be a Texas redneck. I’m good with that. Rednecks are fine people. They have a certain earthiness and honesty that I like. They are generous to a fault. They care for their own.
Weston may grow up liking cowboy boots, guns, and Shiner Bock. Or, maybe he won’t. Weston will be Weston, just like Hans is Hans. I may not live long enough to see who this boy becomes. I am confident that he will be a good man.