First off, let me not bury the lead.
Happy Birthday, Clark!
When you came into our lives on this day in the early morning hours, you brought a new kind of joy and wonderment that cannot be explained, only experienced. As you passed your way slowly through the canal of that mysterious portal between unborn and born, from living protected in your mother’s belly erupting into the harsh and dangerous realities of changing temperatures and the noise of the world, your mother and I went through a portal of our own. What transpired in those moments and sprung to life just as you did were the realities of our own profound hopes and dreams.
As I look back from the 32 year advantage of now, I see so clearly that having you was our commitment to the future. Our future. Your future. And our belief in the future of mankind. I mean, who would bring a helpless baby into the world if they didn’t see a bright and promising future for their child.
So here you are and how did we do?
If I say so myself, we did a magnificent job!!!
We added the best playmate a young fella could ask for in your sister, Blair.
We moved you to two great cities, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, each giving you a grounding and a rounding that nudged, fudged and molded you into the wonderful man you are on this day. The man in whom Ashley has put her love and trust.
We gave you rope to go out and experience life. We reeled you in when your choice wasn’t the best, then let your earn you way out into the world again.
We let you take us out of our own comfort zone, leading us into places that we would not have gone on our own.
Like, for instance, through an open door into the basement of the Dean E. Smith Center in April of 1993 in the afterglow of a National Championship. Had we not followed you we not have seen the wall in the hallway on which were marked the height of players in the same tape and pencil markings that parents use to capture the growth of their kids. Players like Eric Montross! As if that wasn’t enough, I looked away from the wall and you had kept going, even as I chided you to wait, fearful of our interloping into this hallowed place and getting nabbed by security.
And then, before I realized it, I had chased you down the hallway which tunneled out on to the floor of one of the country’s greatest basketball arenas. There, at center court, was the big decal of North Carolina, our native state: your mother’s, mine and yours. And there was you. Standing amidst the beautiful powder blue.
“Isn’t this great, Dad! What if I had stopped when you told me to?”
That’s just one experience that we would not have had if left to our own devices.
There are so many more as you grew and played hockey, went to Georgia Tech, traveled to Australia, then Europe. Became a man of, if not the world, maybe half of it.
And now, you and your love, Ashley, have planted your own stake in the ground, become engaged, moved to Portland and bought a house you’ll turn into your very own home.
I’m so proud of you. Of what you’ve accomplished. Of who you are and what you are. You are an inspiration to us all on many different fronts. I could not say it any better than through the words my father wrote to me on my first Father’s Day in 1984:
“Parents who are devoted, loving and understanding are a necessity.
Sons who are devoted, loving and understanding are a luxury.
Thanks for being our luxury. We pray that you will be Clark’s necessity.
We love you, Mom & Dad”
Clark, Happy Birthday, son. You are our luxury. We knew it then, way back int 1984.
Mom and Daddio