God always works in mysterious ways.
For about the last month, my wife has been raising a Tui bird. Twee Twee was biffed out of his nest by unruly siblings. So said wife dutifully fed him mashed bananas/dry dog food/grapes/bugs/etc. Every hour or two.
At first she’d call “Twee Twee” while standing in the front yard. He’d answer back, she’d locate him in the bush and, shnork, feed him a syringe or two. As he grew bigger and more ravenous, he’d land on her head when she was gardening. Or basically knock on the front door. Screaming FEED ME. Then last week, Twee Twee (now Tweety) flew the coop. As they do.
And yesterday my son, my only child, did the same.
At 22, he left for a year at Catholic Discipleship College. It’s not far away as the Tui bird flies. But emotionally it’s forever. Because we’re Chinese. At least the wife is. And families stay together. Not like when I was 18 and hit the street, angry and outta there. No, my son is maybe the best person I know. So him flying away is a major. Sigh.
Because I cut his umbilical cord, and held him when he was christened, and melted the plastic baby bottles when I forgot to put water in the sterilizer.
Because I somehow caught him and his bicycle when he was hurtling terrified and out of control down a steep hill headed for a major thoroughfare.
Because I put Happy Meals toys, Pokemons and Transformers into his Christmas stockings.
Because I took him whale-watching, to Saturday soccer (0-for-four seasons), to countless superheroes movies, and to McDonald’s, 10 million times.
Because I helped him strategize when he was almost debilitated by his first crush on a girl, then tried to explain that his total incompetence with girls came from me.
Because he absolutely crushed Australasian academic tests but could never be bothered with grades.
Because I was so bursting with pride I could not hardly breathe when he played an original composition at his graduation in Auckland Town Hall, a place where Nat King Cole once played. When he played five originals and two classics that he scored for his final year university Jazz recital. When his jazz band Rojak played in an amazing ocean-front venue at the Mission Bay Jazz festival.
Because I bought his first car. And his second … after he totaled the first and earned bonus points by also totaling the car he hit. Downtown. While trying to park.
Because, God love him, he’s a perfectionist, just like me.
Because I’ve seen his heart on his sleeve so many times: always looking after his cousins; serving at Mass for14 years; regularly playing piano at the hospice; and in general being too good and too talented for this hard world to get.
Because I have spent years fussing at him for not mowing the yard, not picking up dog poo, not cleaning his room, not EVER nailing down the details for ANYTHING until just AFTER the last minute.
Because I’ve been proud of him every single day of his life. And will remain proud of him forever, whether he’s a musician or priest or writer or artist.
Because he flew the coop yesterday. And, today, my heart is on the ground.
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