On December 21, 1995 we saw Patrick for the first time. We felt his presence long before that mild winter day in Austin, Texas. I guess it must have been time for the cherry blossom festivals in Tokuyama, Japan when we received the good news from the kind Japanese doctor. We hoped for a brother or sister for Thomas and couldn't wait to tell our family that shortly after our return to the states (after a 2 year term) we would have another baby. Our Japanese lady friends were so very protective of little baby. Even on the hottest days of summer the ladies would ask me to make sure and stay warm so the little baby in my tummy wouldn't get cold! As the baby kicked and rolled in utero, Thomas and Philip and I would laugh and talk to the mystery child. I drank lots and lots of green tea during my pregnancy with Patrick. Also ate loads of fish, tofu and seaweed. Patrick hates fish. So that exposure to all things Japanese doesn't seem to have much influence on his life, at least at this point.
What a happy early Christmas gift! Patrick was delivered by C-section, and in a day or so, we were happily tucked into our home with big brother Thomas and dad, waiting for all the relatives to celebrate an especially special Christmas. Philip and I can remember how Thomas would come running to us, shouting, "Check him! Check him, Mommy!" whenever Patrick made the slightest little squeak in their shared bedroom. I would tuck Patrick in the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder and off the three of us would go, hiking around our little world at Buchanan Dam, Texas. Patrick's first summer was the first time Philip and I made a big garden. He would play in his playpen while Thomas and I dug and planted, then harvested the most wonderful vegetables we had ever eaten.
In no time at all we were moving to our our home in Fort Worth, Texas. I remember the spring day our gray kitty came to live with us. Patrick was around 2 years old and his favorite song those days was the little Sunday School song about Zaccheus, the wee little man in the sycamore tree. The kitty ran up the tree and Patrick dubbed it "Zaccheus, because kitty go up tree." Well, a few months later "Zaccheus" gave birth to a litter of kittens, but to this day and forevermore, she is called Zaccheus, because she liked to climb trees.
Patrick and Thomas spent hours and hours playing in our backyard. Their favorite game was playing army man. They especially liked to make mud holes and paint themselves with mud. They would dig for gold and create many adventures with their neighbor friends. I will never forget some of the fun the boys had with their GI Joes. We would go on many campouts. Especially to Glen Rose State Park, Fort Davis State Park and Big Bend National Park. Patrick and Thomas would hunt for snakes and spiders and rocks and inevitably found many of them. When Patrick was only 7 years old and Thomas almost 10 they hiked the South Rim Trail with me in Big Bend. I guess I didn't really know that they were probably too young for a 14 mile hike. I didn't know that you probably need special hiking boots for such a long hike. Good think I didn't know any better. We had the most excellent time. Those boys were tough.
Patrick has always enjoyed the outdoors. He is an avid reader and has studied many good books on wilderness survival. I am quite convinced that he is perfectly capable of taking care of himself in the wild. I am convinced that this child/young man is also perfectly capable of taking care of himself in the not so wild as well. He has always done well academically. The only time he doesn't do as well as he could is when he spends a little too much time thinking about how to be outside. He thrived in public school in New Jersey and just as well in our homeschool world. Patrick seems to always have some friends around.
I am proud of Patrick for so many things. He learned how to raise chickens and has successfully brooded hundreds of chicks into layers and broilers. He learned how to butcher poultry. He learned how to milk goats and the cow and is my main man when I need back up in the dairy. He is well-learned in history. Knows more ancient, medieval and civil war/ WWII history than the average kid in college. He knows how to research things which interest him. Patrick enjoys a good book, loves beautiful things, can make some awesome pancakes and can make a terrific fire. He has very strong hands and can give a tired mom and incredible shoulder rub. What impresses me most of all about my precious second-born, now 13 year old son, is how he blesses so many kids younger than himself. Seems like Patrick has always had a little following of little fellows a few years younger than himself. There are some little fellows in our world, especially one little 5 year old named Boone, who worship the ground he walks on. They look up to him and try to emulate his every move. I know that there are times when there are other more interesting things to do, but so often he finds the time and energy to pull out his Playmobil toys and stage battle scenes. Or he will get Boone and they will find wonderful stick weapons and run through the woods on great adventures. Patrick blesses the little people in his life. He has empathy for the underdog. He makes me proud and honored to be his mom.
Sometimes he makes me frustrated and exasperated to be his mom. We both agree that in some areas we are way too alike and those wonderful traits that help us accomplish certain tasks in life also make us tend toward being rather stubborn and opinionated. Even on the most difficult of days, I try to count it all joy. Our moments of irritation are short-lived and usually easily resolved. My biggest problem with this child is that occasionally he gets a bit too engrossed in a book and tends to hide-out so he can read all afternoon. Some problem.
I love to see Patrick grow up. I believe that he could be anything he sets his mind to be. Right now he wants to have a farm when he grows up. If so, I know he will have a beautiful one. I could see him being a lawyer, helping out the underdog or a professor, engaging his students, helping them to love learning. Maybe a legislator, making it legal to sell raw milk! Maybe he will want to go overseas and help people in Third World countries learn about sustainable agriculture. Who knows? God does and has a plan and a purpose for Patrick's life. I am more than blessed by being able to be a part of it.
I love you, Patrick. Thanks for being such a great son and great young man. Even if you weren't my son, I would love to spend time with you. There are many more things I could write about you. Guess we will have to save them for some future birthdays. May the Lord bless you and equip you to be everything you were created to be. Happy 13th Birthday!