My Three Sons


Brenda and I bought our first real painting for our home in Door County, Wisconsin. It’s entitled “Mischief Afloat” by Pamela Murphy.  She is a local artist who collects old photographs and chooses figures from them for her paintings.  She oftentimes doesn’t paint the faces of the people in the photographs allowing the viewer to find a little of themselves or others they love in her paintings.

The moment we saw the painting we saw our three sons sitting in the boat. Christopher our oldest sits in the front of the boat as the elder statesman, contemplating the history of boat construction and use.  Always seeking to learn more and understand why things do what they do, he carefully estimates the load bearing weight of the boat and its safety features to ensure his boys would be safe to sail.  Slowly he begins to plan and dream how he could build his own boat with new and improved features.  There is no doubt he will do it.  David stands in the middle as the second born brother.   While he is blind he listens to the water as the boat carefully cuts through the morning mist.  He feels the water that hangs in the air on his face.  With his head tilted up he listens to the seagulls as they fly over.  While at times his incessant talking becomes an irritant to his brothers, it sadly will soon be missed.  Daniel sits in the back of the boat dangling his hand in the water dreaming of how he could catch a fish with his bare hands.  His mind is filled with color and texture and light as he captures the stillness and the beauty of the moment in his mind and heart, hoping to later share it with others through a story or painting or piece of pottery.  At the same time he is poised to jump into the water, not wanting to miss the adventure that waits below the surface.  My three sons!  All very different, all very loved by their mom and dad, each a unique masterpiece.

Over the past few weeks I have spent a lot time looking at the painting that hangs on our fireplace, thinking about my three sons and the unique adventures they are on. While I often write about David, I realized I have not shared much about Chris nor Dan.  It isn’t that they don’t have a story to tell or that I love them any less than I loved David.  Sadly I think I take their presence in my life for granted.  I let the business of life stop me from simply calling to say, “I love you or what are you doing?”  I listen to the little lie in my head that says they are too busy or occupied with their own lives to want to hear from their old man.  I let a small hurt build into a huge wall that was never meant to be taken the way I heard it, causing me to miss out on experiencing their adventures of “Mischief Afloat.”  Thankfully I know Chris and Dan love me.  And thankfully I am convinced they know I love them.  We are quick to say we are sorry and we are willing to say I forgive you.  And I love the fact that they often invite us into their boats to share their lives with their beautiful families.  I love sailing with all of you!

Boys I celebrate your uniqueness and am blessed to be your dad.  Chris, if you ever start building that new boat I want to help. Dan, I want to watch you as you create that next masterpiece, but please don’t ask me to jump in the water.  David, I miss you and love you!