Friday, July 11, 2014

Saying Farewell to Another Set of Eyes

As the little guy has grown and gone mobile, it's become ever more imperative that Mrs. Blackwell and myself adapt. 

As any parent can tell you, adventurous things can happen even if your back is turned for just a moment. So, you adjust.
Q: "Is the baby OK?"
A: "He's fine, just fine. 

You make sure to install baby gates near flights of stairs. You communicate with your spouse. In our house this frequently means little more than one of us asking, "Do you know where the boy is?"

What's a bit baffling is how a two-year old baby can make two adults feel outmanned. Frankly he holds a distinct advantage over us in being unpredictable and sporting an endless supply of energy.

Sad though it may be, a third set of adult eyes is much, much appreciated, and sometimes necessary. 

For the last 18 months, Mrs. Blackwell and I have had just that in the form of a trusted, longtime friend. 

This friend, let's call him Brent, because that's his name, is a frequent visitor to our home. Sunday dinners, birthdays, holidays and, weather permitting, weekly cookouts. Brent has been there for all of these.

Brent is the rare friend that has one's complete trust and, as luck would have it, he and Master Blackwell get along famously. When babies are little you can't tell who they like and who they don't like.

One day, they might cry when you hold them. The next day they cry when your spouse holds them. But as they grow, their preferences become more apparent — and consistent. That said, the boy made his feelings on Brent clear as soon as he was able. 

One day Brent rang our doorbell and, without knowing who was on the other side of door, the little guy yelled "Brent!" and toddled toward the door. 

From Left: Brent and another fellow
who'll need to sharpen his
baby-watching skills.  
Brent has been there as the boy has gone from crawling to walking to running. And he's been able to keep up with the boy every step of the way. In the process he's become part of our family. A friend who, more often than not, shows up to my house with arms full of excellent beer. A friend you'd trust with your life. Fortunately we've never tested this, though I did trust him with my house once and he didn't let me down. (He even mowed the lawn.)

So it's sad now that our good family friend, is moving away from us. Despite my building an indisputable case that he's making a poor decision, he's decided that things like "being close to family" and "career advancement" are somehow important. 

With my family 1,000 miles away and Mrs. Blackwell's 420 miles away, Brent is our closest family. I also happen to work with him so, in addition to watching a good friend depart, I'm also losing a trusted colleague. 

Family is a beautiful thing and when it grows it's that much better. What makes it special too is that no measure of distance diminishes the strengths of its bond.

I hope you're fortunate to have a friend like Brent. I also hope you're better at convincing him or her to stick around if they ever get the inclination to move. 

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