by Scott Kindberg
June 27, 2003
My son, Matthew, then 6 years old, was joining me for a high school baseball playoff game at what was then known as College Stadium.
Armed with burgers, french fries and a couple of soft drinks, we climbed the stairs to the roof, walked into the press box and found a vacant booth where we could enjoy our dinner before getting ready for the game.
Before I could sit down, Matthew climbed up on a chair, stared out at the immaculate field, the blue sky and Jamestown Community College behind the center field fence, looked up at me and said, “Dad, the view from up here is simply breathtaking.”
Twelve years have passed since then. My son has gone from a kindergartner to a high school senior in the blink of an eye.
For dear old dad, the view has indeed been breathtaking.
Tonight, Matthew will walk across the stage at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena to accept his diploma, signifying his graduation from Jamestown High School. I’ll be there, too. I’ll be the guy with tears in my eyes and an ear-to-ear smile on my face, proud as can be.
The ceremony will be a sentimental one — as it will be for all parents — but it will be especially poignant for me because it will affirm that a decision I made 14 years ago was indeed the right one. For it was in 1989 that I was faced with two options: As a recent divorcee, I could either stay in Jamestown, and at The Post-Journal, or seek employment at a newspaper out of town.
I opted to stay “at home.”
It’s a decision I’ve never regretted. I could have done better financially elsewhere, but there is no price tag on a daily relationship with your children. And, to be fair, the management at The Post-Journal, and sports editor Jim Riggs, in particular, have treated me very well in the 20 years that I’ve been in their employ.
And, best of all, I’ve had a front row seat as I’ve watched my son grow up.
So as I wait for tonight’s graduation, I can’t help but be flooded with wonderful memories that I’ve had with Matthew, ones I wouldn’t ever trade, and couldn’t possibly have had, had I left Jamestown when he was a preschooler.
Those include, in no particular order:
Teaching him to tie his shoes.
Teaching him to ride a bike.
Teaching him to drive a car.
Picking him up when he got his braces on.
Picking him up when he got his braces off.
Helping him with his homework.
Coaching his tee-ball team.
Watching him run around the field, playing soccer as a 5-year-old.
Chaperoning his band trips.
Watching him perform on stage at the Reg Lenna.
Getting to know his wonderful friends and their families.
Taking him to be fitted for his prom tuxedo.
Taking him to pick up his first car.
Spending a weekend camping with the YMCA Indian Guides.
Watching him be a part of a state championship marching band.
Watching him being presented the Donald Bube Award & Scholarship.
Seeing his reaction when he knew he was the recipient.
Watching him perform with the all-county band and chorus at Chautauqua Institution.
Taking him on college visits.
Singing with him in the Living Christmas Tree at First Covenant Church.
Listening and watching him sing at the A Cappella Vespers.
Listening and watching him play in the JHS concert band.
Taking him to Toronto to see Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia!
And, finally, watching him perform in a grammar school talent show.
I remember the talent show particularly well. Then 6, Matthew came home one day from school and announced that he wanted to be in the show at Lincoln Elementary. I was surprised, but proud, that he would have the nerve to take the stage in front of a full auditorium.
We talked about songs he would consider singing. My suggestion was a piece made famous by entertainer Bette Midler, called “Wind Beneath My Wings.” I had heard a boy about Matthew’s age sing it during halftime of Super Bowl XXV and thought it would be perfect.
Matthew was familiar with the song, too, but told me he didn’t want to sing it.
“The words will make you cry,” he said.
You know, he was right.
I found the lyrics to the song on the Internet recently and I now understand why I’ve become so sensitive to them. Those words, sung so beautifully by Ms. Midler, summarize in ways that I can’t how I feel about Matthew. I’m sure most parents can share the same sentiments about their kids this graduation weekend.
The lyrics read as follows:
It might have appeared to go unnoticed, but I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.
Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings.
Happy graduation, Matthew.
I love you,