That smile and all it means for all of us

Michele Weldon | February 12, 2010

Caryn emailed me the photo.

I didn't see it until I had already landed in San Francisco, a trip to visit three undergraduate students on media internships from the Medill School of Journalism.

Colin is absolutely glowing. He won first place at 119 pounds. I left for the airport from St. Ignatius High School at 2 p.m. to catch a 5 p.m. flight out. I saw him get his first two wins. I knew he would be the champion. Still, I didn't see the smile in person.

There is very little I can do for my 16-year-old son in his life to make him smile that widely. His favorite meal after a tournament--maybe-- a joke, a small gift, a verbal reminder that I love him immensely. But he is responsible for that moment of intense pride. It wasn't handed to him, he didn't inherit it, it didn't land on him when he opened the window. It certainly did not come from me. And I get chills witnessing the satisfaction he reaps from the fruits of his own determination.

Colin won regional champion at 119 pounds last week. At noon, his older brother Brendan, called me on my cell from his college dorm room in Indiana to see how Colin was faring. Just then a "restricted call" clicked in on my call waiting. It was his oldest brother, Weldon, calling from Madrid, where he is on study abroad, seeing how Colin was faring. Odd to say, but it was a wonderful family moment.

Some families go on cruises. Some families have picnics. Some families play board games. Mine is a wrestling family. My sons compete on the mat by themselves. Perhaps the other two boys are there watching from the sidelines. Along with all the other mothers, I sit in the stands. Sometimes I take the brothers' calls asking what is happening on the mat. And everytime I am in a warm high school gymnasium somewhere in the Midwest, I hope that on this day, one of my boys has a smile that reaches from here to the end of the world.

That day it was Colin. And yes, it was a very good day for me.

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