Skateboarding is a dangerous sport and to this day I shudder to think of all the emergency room visits with my son who lived to skateboard.
My son has a birthday next week. He will be 36. He has a wife, two children, a good job and my father’s name. There is nothing on this planet I could buy online or in a store that he doesn’t already have, so I decided I would give him words for his birthday.
After my daughter was born three years earlier, I thought I could never love anyone as much as I loved her. I was wrong. Adam was a good baby. He was born on a Saturday night, June 29. We lived in a neighborhood of townhouses with 46 children under the age of 12. It was around 9 p.m. on a warm summer’s eve as we got into the car to go to the hospital with nearly all the families on our street sitting on their front steps waving us off.
Unlike my daughter, my son looked like me; his son looked like him. It’s almost uncanny, but he always says, “who would you think my son looks like, if not me?” Adam has a sense of humor. He’s also very frugal, as one would expect from someone Russian-German.
We traveled together when he was young, into middle school and midway through high school. He was the best of traveling companions sitting in the car for 8-10 hour stretches, helping carry canopies and boxes of woven clothes. He loved funnel cake. He helped other artists unload products or walk dogs to earn money for these sweet treats. His favorite road food was Subway sandwiches.
At home, we communicated with a notebook on the kitchen counter. As I was sorting through “stuff” in my basement trying to hygge my house, I found this page from one of those many notebooks. It was a grocery list.
Party Pizzas, pepperoni, please
We don’t need cheese
We have the ones in square.
You should get one pear.
We have good soda pop,
But we don’t have any lollipops.
We have good breakfast food.
Would it be rude
For me to ask for corned beef hash?
On your way home, don’t crash.
That’s it for today,
Be back right away…
In addition to being very careful with his money and writing poetry, he made up great words that I wish I had recorded for posterity’s sake.
Adam’s youthful claim to fame was his skateboarding. From the time he could walk, he skateboarded. People would stop as they drove by my house to watch this tyke cruising down the sidewalk. As he grew and developed skills, he partnered with a couple of friends and made videos of skateboarding. Mandan didn’t have a park then, so after being banned from many parking lots and stairways around town, the boys got together and petitioned the city commission and park board to build a skate park. While that may have been one of my proudest moments, watching some skating mishaps still gives me goosebumps.
So, as another year passes and I cannot think of a thing you need from me, I give you this. You are my son. I love you. You have grown into a responsible man with a family, and I couldn’t be prouder of your accomplishments. I miss our travels together, especially the history lesson trip following the Lewis and Clark trail west, visiting all those historic sites and camping along the Salmon River in the Sawtooth Mountain range the day before they closed the park for the annual salmon spawn. Here’s to your extraordinary life, my number one son.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.