Rick was the full-time parent to his boys when I came along, and I entered a ready-made family. The boys were in high school, and I got to experience things that are still coming for Zack -- high school graduations, taking the boys to visit colleges, helping them stock up their first apartments....great stuff.
Ryan, the oldest, got married to his girlfriend of seven years, Jessica, on May 24th, and I promise a longer, beautiful post laden with pictures, but for now, I'm borrowing a few of photographer David Abel's photos of the amazing men in my life.
I love that Ryan asked Rick to come help him get ready, and I adore Ryan's expression. I wasn't there, but I know my husband, and I'm sure he was a bundle of nerves trying desperately to hold back tears. I think I've only seen this man cry a handful of times -- at our wedding, and then always about his kids because they are his world.
This is Colin, the middle son, fixing Ryan's tie. Ryan bought Rick's cool Jerry Garcia tie. Rick used to collect a lot of ties, and now Zack is very interested (and opinionated!) about them. Zack has a cool sense of style for someone with a degree of color blindness, and both Rick and I take his fashion advice quite seriously. I swear he got it from watching his brothers, who are both quite dapper and cool and lately take Zack along shopping.
I love that Ryan and Colin are close, and even though they're eighteen years older than Zack, all three have a special bond. Immense LEGO kits (one of which was Ryan's groomsman gift to Zack) are one bond. In fact, both boys showed up at the house after Ryan and Jessica's honeymoon to help work on a monster Technics kit together. Those are some cool brothers whose dad taught them to care about other's feelings.
Our first family photo. I have to admit I cried when I saw just how bad I looked, and this was the best shot. However, Rick taught his boys something else ... compassion. Up until almost the day of the wedding, we weren't sure I'd be able to come, and all the boys have seen me in various states of yuck. Ryan even consoled me when I was in tears at ruining photos. All the boys have learned from Rick that love for our family is incredibly important, and while circumstances might change to affect a person's life, that doesn't make them invisible. When the boys were in college and grad school garnering Ph.Ds, they always made time to spend holidays with us, and those holidays are some of the best memories of my life.
The Anderson men...
Rusty (Rick's brother), Zack, Rick, Ryan, Dick (Rick's father), and Colin.
These last few photos show some filial love that I believe comes from having a loving father who spent a lot of time with his kids. Ryan and Colin took Zack out last month to fly a kite (all *I* can do is drag a kite and take it for a recalcitrant walk). With patience and a sense of adventure (since they just might have hit nearby airport air space they weren't supposed to), they took time out of a busy day to remember what it was like to be eleven. I'm quite sure Zack will remember this when he's the older one to, dare I hope, grandkids.
And then, through watching the men in his family, Zack has learned that love and caring are indeed masculine traits. Last year in school, Zack's grade's community service program was to read to kids in day care. He learned you don't have to personally know someone to show kindness and interest, things I know he's learned from the Anderson men.
I'm fortunate to have landed in this group of guys. I've spent almost fifteen years among them, and I've learned what a father is supposed to be....someone who guides, loves, disciplines, laughs, and above all, we learn from each other. I pray that as years go by, the bonds between us become stronger and unbreakable.
Love to my family, and the best to yours.
Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing