I met my two friends at the airport on schedule but decided to play them up a bit about how the past three days went minding the kids while they were away. The plan was for them to take a few days for their anniversary and, unable to lock in the grandparents on short notice, I volunteered to keep their three young sons so they could have time alone. When they got off the plane I met them at the gate with open arms, crocodile tears and a nervous tick in my left eye and neck.
"So how did it go," they laughed as they saw right through my act, knowing that if I was there then the kids were safe and in school, no worse for the wear than I was pretending to be. The truth of the matter is those three kids and I had a ball that long weekend. While their parents were enjoying themselves we went on a long road-trip of discovery that included lake swimming, sleeping bats and, of course, plenty of good old fashioned dog-piling on their poor old "uncle."
The three of them and I fell in love with each other at first sight two years before and it has been hard to tell the adult apart from the child ever since even though all three are grown and on their own today. No blood relation of any kind we nonetheless are related by choice which is sometimes the best way of all. They want to be a part of my life even today as much as I am deeply moved in their wanting me to remain in theirs.
One is starting off well, joining the workforce right out of high school, is happily married and starting a family of his own. Another is about to enter the military to get a leg up on higher education once his enlistment is up. I've heard that so many times before from people who join up for "just one tour" only to spend the next couple of decades in service to the country. Either way I couldn't be more pleased or proud. For the third I have every prayer and belief that in his own time and way he will find the happiness and success that we all deserve. This is the 10th, last and greatest item on The Traveling Optimist Bucket List.
Each of the three have distinct personalities, one being on the stoic side with another being the cute playboy. The third one is the prankster, full of the devil but blessed with the blarney to make any Irish proud. It's impossible to hate or stay mad at him for long which probably has at least a little to do with his thus far unconcerned approach to his future. Everything will work out in the end.
As we all have to do he is learning the adult consequences of some of his more interesting choices. I've also noticed that the gleam in his eye is tempering just a bit with a few hard knocks though none so hard as to ever knock the gander out of him completely.
In my heart of hearts I have faith in each of the three of them who own solid places of their own in my soul.