My Three “Only” Children

I can’t believe I haven’t written about my children yet. They are without a doubt my favorite topic of conversation and my main claim to fame. I have never been particularly ambitious and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I always knew I wanted to have children. And I definitely got some good ones. They are extremely intelligent, funny, compassionate individuals. They are also hard-working, independent, moral beings, who hold high standards and care about the common good. Even if they weren’t related to me, I would like and admire these people. Together they have taught me many of the important things I know.

My older son, Matthew, is a captain in the Army and the most serious of the three, but he has a wicked sense of humor and a way of looking at the world that shines a bright light on absurdity and hypocrisy. He enjoys collecting photos of signs that are just “wrong” and sharing them on Facebook. Recently, he asked me, “Am I the only one that sees these things?” The fact that he has maintained any sense of humor at all is rather miraculous, after three deployments to war zones in the past ten years (twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan). He was in college in New York when the Trade Center towers came down, and he enlisted immediately under a deferred enlistment plan, determined to do something in response. He reported for duty the day after he graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology. Over the years he has taught me much about perseverance and indomitable spirit.

Melissa is a nurse and the mother of a three-year-old son Ian. Technically, Melissa is not my child, but she lived with us for several months when she and Matthew were both thirteen, so I claim her anyway. For years she has called me Aunt Mom (and now her son calls me Aunt Grandma). Her husband thinks that makes us all sound like a bunch of hicks, but I love it. These days, she is doing an amazing job balancing her work as a nurse with raising an energetic three-year-old and maintaining a house. This week she posted on Facebook that the plumber was coming “to save her basement from the poop fountain.” Melissa has taught me that even when life really sucks, you can still maintain your positive outlook and sense of humor. She is one of the most open, generous, and kindhearted people I know.

Isaac, the youngest, is a PhD student in molecular biology, currently spending his second season in Antarctica doing research, but he has never let hard work get in the way of a good time. He makes friends everywhere he goes and has never run short of ideas for fun things to do. Many of the photos I have seen from McMurdo Station in blogs and on Facebook show him playing guitar or dressed up in a fish costume at the Halloween party or standing out in the snow for an Occupy Antarctica photo shoot. Isaac enjoys life and has always just assumed things would go his way. More often than not, they do. When he was in middle school, he once asked if he could have money for a field trip. When I asked how much money and where they were going, he said nonchalantly, “$1000. France.” His wife is meeting him in Sydney, Australia, in December, when he comes off the Ice. From him I have learned that friends are important, and it “never hurts to ask for what you want.”

I am so thankful that these wonderful young people are part of my life. The world is a better place because they are in it.

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