And Now You Are Five

Jack, five years ago, I held you just after you were born. That single experience changed my life. Then two years later, Owen entered the world. The two of you have made me extremely happy.

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I have attempted to figure out all the reasons why the two of you mean so much to me. I have talked with your parents, my children, my granddaughter, and many of my friends about how I feel. After expressing some of the reasons to my listeners, they all, in desperation, say just to accept the joy. I do not need to know everything. Just be happy in the moment.

My retort to them all is that there is something different about you and Owen. I have wrestled with this phenomenon related to you for five years and still do not fully understand it. There are many reasons for this relationship that I have with you and your brother. Part of my emotional dilemma is that I have danced with death twice and realize that I am not immortal. The past five years, with you and three years with Owen, have been the time of my life. We have laughed, played games, hugged, learned about artists, baked things, caught king cobras, created artwork, taken hikes, and the list goes on.

That being said, in a couple of years, all those happy times and memories will vanish from within your mind but not in mine. I want you to be able to remember some of those moments of joy, fun, and love. That is part of the reason for writing about our adventures together on my website, Wolverton Mountain. In the years to come when I am not around, you will at least have articles and photos of us doing all those fun things together, even though nearly all of your first five years will not be remembered.

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Description: Jack using door lock button

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Description: Al, Owen and Jack smile for the camera

Description: Jack rolling out the dough

Description: Jack in the patch

Description: Al and Jack talking

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Another part of the reason that you mean so much to me is that I am dealing with the reality that both my grandfathers loved playing with me, but they both died before I was five. I have only a couple of photos of them with me, but surely, they loved me as much as I love you. In some strange way, I am grieving missing them without having any real memory of my time with them.

In addition, one of the benefits of being a grandfather is that I do not have to worry about all the things that I thought were critical when I was a young father. Because of that, I can enjoy the moment with you and Owen. Being a parent of young children absorbs much of the time that they have. They worry about their children. I did. And guess what? Most of my worries were for naught. At this point in my life, I want to enjoy our time together...and just laugh and have fun.

During my life, I never got into writing a diary. Nonetheless, my essays about you and your brother have become a type of diary. During the past five the years, I have looked back and read articles about our time together and many of those details have been forgotten. Therefore, Wolverton Mountain contains my diary of you and your bother. They were fun times for us.

Another possible drive to write is that I have a limited time remaining in life. At 72, how long will I be around? Having danced with death a couple of times, I understand that I need to address the limits on my time here with my family. I attempt to live life to the fullest with all my family but especially you and Owen. That drive to enjoy life is a great benefit that you have given me. I look forward to our time together; I cherish it.

Before you moved to your new home, I hugged and kissed you before returning to my home in Crown Point just as we do every week for five years. Each time, in sheer love and excitement about you, I would say something about loving you. This time, I did the same type of good-bye, but you responded, after I said that you were a great child, with a quiet comment, "No, I just Jack." My response was "No, you are not just Jack."

Jack, you have many years before you as you journey down the yellow brick road of life; never forget that you are a very great and loving child. Here is a snapshot of some of the things that make you great.

You question everything with your query, "Why?" Until it makes sense to you, you will continue to probe the reason why. Ironically, I am still pondering the why about our relationship and all the reasons for it. I am not satisfied with the list of reasons that I have already compiled. However, you will be the first to know when I do.

A part of your asking why is the excitement about learning. You want to learn about all that you do not presently know or understand. When you were three years old, I was babysitting for you. I was checking my online class that I was teaching in art history. You toddled up and wanted to know what I was doing. I told you that I was teaching art history, and you were looking at one of my PowerPoint slides of a painting. Then off you went only to return fifteen minutes later with the same question about another slide.

While I love teaching, I never would have even considered teaching you art history until you were in high school. However, you had a different idea. Your wanting to know about art two years ago resulted now in knowing five or six dozen paintings and who painted them.

Description: Al and Jack discussing art

Initially, I just had pictures on single sheets of paper, which very soon morphed into your art history textbook. However, it was not long before we moved from the arts to science and history in general. For example, you know about the Rosetta Stone and the Rosetta Mission. You also know more geology than the average person on the streets in Indy. You can identify trilobites and know about the dinosaur, Dreadnoughtus, and its relationship to the British dreadnought. No one in Indy knows about that relationship.

In addition to your quest to learn, you will share your knowledge base with anyone who will listen. Do you remember finding a king cobra and showing it to Owen, your neighbors, and parents? You want to learn and share what you know.

Jack, you are very caring. When you were about nine months old, I had given you some finger food before lunch. I did not say anything but sat there with my mouth wide-open. You were concerned about me being hungry and you gave me some of your food.

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When you do not understand something, you will ask. Then I stand back, you are off to the races. Whether you were working on your Mother's Day floral arrangement or dealing with Turner's painting of Hannibal Crossing the Alps, you gather information causing your mind to explode. You saw the connection between the Rhône River that Hannibal crossed and the river painted by van Gogh in his painting Starry Night over the Rhône. There are seven billion people in this world, how many at any age connected the dots like you? None. Jack, you are not just Jack. You are exceptional.

I am proud of being your Papa. Have a Happy Birthday and many more.

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