“Good afternoon. We are currently traveling at…. thousand feet above sea level. The weather in Seattle is…..”
I’m on a plane. I’m flying back across the country after officiating a wedding and spending the better part of a week with my parents, sister, brother-in-law and nephew. It was a beautiful wedding. I met a lot of great, new people, and saw a lot of family that I hadn’t seen since we moved last summer. And the time with my more immediate family was really nice. My nephew is just now entering the stage of development where he’s playing, engaging, expressing himself, and laughing… he laughs a lot. It’s kind of a scream-laugh. So if you like being startled, and then overcome by the cuteness of a toddler, he’d perfect. And my oldest son came with me too. He’s a wide-eyed, tender-hearted 3rd grader, and this trip together has almost entirely been awesome… save for maybe a total of 30 minutes where I thought he may be possessed by some demon of moody, whiny, pre-adolescence.
And while this trip can easily be a tale of large, obvious ups – like a beautiful wedding of two people I love, a surprise vow renewal after 25 years of dedicated marriage, my son’s very first fidget spinner (because it was a big deal for him), a surprising and exciting call about a job possibility, time with my parents, watching my son love my family, and visiting a woman in the hospital that means the world to our whole family… all true, all awesome. But this trip was really about little things. The less obvious moments that make life worthwhile on a daily basis, no matter where you are. And I live for these moments. People really fire me up, and that’s usually a good thing! Here are some highlights that I love that I got to live…
Traveling with Parker
We’ve never done a big trip that split our family. And while I miss my amazing wife and our little boy, Elliott, the time with Parker has been awesome. During several moments of quiet this week, he’s taken the opportunity to tell me how much he loves me or to thank me for taking him with me across the country. Of course, we aren’t always serious. He’s ticklish, and I provoke him, and there is no one to save him tens of thousands of feet in the air… but in those sweet moments, he’s reminded me that we should really speak the love we have for the ones we love.
Don’t hold love in. It makes someone’s day to be loved out loud… well, it made mine.
Jacob Said My Name
Well, he says part of it. My nephew is maybe 17 months old. And unfortunately, I’m a FaceTime screen to him because Washington and South Carolina are divided by, basically the rest of America. So I had low expectations when we reunited in real time is week. He’s cute, and I generally give baby’s their space. I like them from a distance and will gladly hold a kid if asked to, but I usually treat kids like cats… if they come to me, that’s fine. Otherwise, I’m just around and happy to see them. But Jacob is my nephew, and he’s walking now, and he says my name… sort of. So it took all of two days for me to break my own rule.
So I held my nephew. I figured out what makes him giggle and I did it as many times as I could, because when something matters to you, you invest in it. Yes, he’s just one. But he matters to me, whether he knows it or not.
Someone Said They Like Me
“Brad, hey, I like you. And that’s a big deal… I don’t like many people.” It was a funny, unexpected proclamation, but the bride to-be’s twin sister, the lovely Cassidy, meant it when she said it. It was a couple of hours after we first met. She didn’t explain it, and she doesn’t have to. When someone makes an effort to reach out to you, take it. It doesn’t matter how it got delivered or even if I fully understood what she was saying at the time, but she meant it. And it matters to both of us.
Being asked to officiate someone’s wedding is a big deal for me. I love weddings. I love how the chaos always seems to pull together into a beautiful mix of the planned and the unexpected. But this wedding was Taylor’s, and he’s one of my little cousins. And he’s made it very clear that he wanted me there, which is cool. But as the jitters set in, and decorations laid around unfinished, and people had unanswered questions about the big day, he calmly said, “There’s no one I trust more with [marrying Kelsi] than you, Brad.” Boy, have I got that kid fooled!! And man, oh man, was that a shot of confidence that dove right into my heart.
His wedding was awesome, the reception was a great mix of cute and funny, and he can’t read this because he’s on a cruise. But there may be nothing more powerful than a sincerely spoken word. So speak carefully, speak truly, and speak intentionally.
Sometimes, You Just Have to Go [Even if You Don’t Want To]
My brother in-law is an introvert. We might be the complete opposite of one another. And my dad, though he has a home near the beach with a pool around the corner, is not a swimming guy. And my sister is taking care of a wide-open toddler. My aunt and uncle were just here to celebrate their grandson’s wedding, not drive across town to see us.
What I’m saying is, a lot of people chose to be with me and my son this week. They went to the beach, the pool, visited the house that was way out of the way, went to the ball game, took us to the inflatable obstacle course on the lake (that I’m still sore from), went shopping, etc. And it was all because Parker mattered to them… they said that I mattered too, but I know the truth!
And I saw a lot of people showing up, stepping up, encouraging, and loving hard during the wedding festivities too. Nevertheless, this trip was full of people who decided that it was more important to go out of their way for someone else than to serve themselves, and that’s just always so good.
I Saw a Cub World Series Ring!!
Hold on, let me breathe…. ok. I’m ok.
Kelsi and Cassidy have an older sister, Katelyn. As we were meeting for the first time and just chatting, she mentioned the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Immediately, I knew to tell her that they were the Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. She knew this already because she works for them. So we chatted about baseball and my absurd fanhood of all things Cubs, and then she hooked us up with tickets. So we got to watch the Pelicans play on July 4th, had an incredible view for maybe the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen (yes, ever), got a game ball for Parker (thank you, Justin), spent too much money on souvenirs, and got to further indoctrinate my son in the way of the Cubs and baseball.
And the ring was on display down in the concourse. I took a “selfie” with an inanimate object, and I’m not even the slightest bit embarrassed. I’m pretty sure Parker rolled his eyes at me though.
And maybe it was no big task for Katelyn, but I’m pretty sure I thanked her an awkwardly high number of times. But what really matters is that she gave what she had. When you work in sports, you have tickets. When you barely know someone, and you give them your time, your energy, and something that only you can give them, that’s a big deal. It’s a small thing, but it’s a big deal. And she gave what she had to me and my family. So again… thank you Katelyn.
There’s So Much More
Linda laughed at my jokes. Darlene and Barry wrote me the best note. David made a point to pull me aside and thank me for my role in his son’s wedding. Mark and Melissa made keto-friendly ice cream. My mom ate my bacon-wrapped brats even though she doesn’t like brats. My wife and I talked whenever we could. Friends watched our youngest while she was working and I was away. I got a gift card to Outback. I met a stranger that loves baseball, played for NC State, and his mom is a minister, and now he’s my new friend. Parker got to play with a cousin he barely knows at all’ but like a lot (Hey Bentleigh!!). Back in Durham, Mike and Iyesha made time for me in the middle of their big moving weekend. Tebo, Savannah, Amaris and J-Dub went to dinner with me the one night I was in Durham. We got to visit Pat and Ms. Hamacher. I got to hug Faye and tell her I love her. And I even attended a funeral for a good, good man. And now, Parker is sleeping on my shoulder, and I can’t wait to have our whole family back together.
Maybe there are no little things. There are just the things we take for granted and the things we choose to fully appreciate. I need or be better at that in my daily life. But this was a good week.
A really good week.