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Me and D

meanddbaby.jpg One of the ways I prepare myself to go through life passages is to look through my old photo albums and other memorabilia. I don’t decide to do it. It happens naturally.

My youngest son, Dylan, who is 24 years old, is getting married this weekend, which is why I’ve recently been immersed in a nostalgic review of his life. Looking at his baby book, a chronicle of written entries and photos, has especially stirred up a mix of emotions in me.

After his high school graduation, Dylan lived on a wooded section of our 3 acres in a cabin that he helped his step-dad, Joe, build. He enrolled part time in a community college to study electrical wiring, and worked in the building trade with his father, learning all aspects of the business. At one point, he struck out on his own and for a couple of years had a job at a local nursery, managing greenhouses and driving a forklift. During this time, he also worked for me as an hourly worker who provided care to a developmentally disabled man who lived with us. He was the best hourly worked I had. meandd3a.jpg

With my older son, Josh, my motherly tears of separation flowed in 1998 when I dropped him off at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. With Dylan, it happened when he moved to Roanoke to live with his girlfriend. After a teary kiss good-bye, I watched him walk off with his knapsack, looking like a vagabond teenager with everything he owned on his back. The pride I felt at his metamorphosis into a young man was equal to the sadness I felt at losing my little boy. Apparently, all those clichés about “the baby of the family” leaving home are true. When he got out of view, I broke down and cried.

Re-reading Dylan’s baby book this week, I’ve been struck by how the seed of who he is today was planted in him from day one. According to the record, at nine months old, Dylan played with our vacuum cleaner for more than a half an hour, pushing buttons and trying to figure out how it works. Like his older brother, Josh, he loved hammers, but “Dylan had to have two, one for each hand,” the baby book record reminded me.

“You’re crazy about outlets, cords, and machinery,” I wrote when Dylan was 1 ½. And by the time he was nearing 2, I made this entry, “Dylan doesn’t climb out of his crib like most two year olds; he takes the screws out and loosens the side rail to make his descent.”

When I presented 2 year old Dylan with his first watercolor paint box, he mixed all the colors into brown and was more interested in the scissors because they were a tool. His brother had a cast of teddy bear characters that he involved in elaborate play, but Dylan never got attached to one. What I remember about Dylan’s one teddy bear was the time he put it in the corner of his crib to use like a stepping stool so that he could reach his hanging mobile to examine it.
You might be thinking right now that my son Dylan is a macho alpha male. Not true. Although, he was capable of displaying his temper, as this entry verifies – “Dylan expresses his anger well (too well)! He says “I’m going to kick you, I don’t like you, or BAD BOY, mommy” when I do something he doesn’t like” – and even though he was nicknamed “Pootsa” by his father in reference to his habit of whining, Dylan was one of the most sensitive and gentlest children I’ve known.

With a sweet tooth to match his sweet singing voice, he asked to have a puppy, was gentle with babies, and couldn’t bear to see me cry (which is why I waited till he was out of view the day he moved out before I let myself break down). When he was old enough to play Monopoly with me and his brother, he was the one who would slip me money if I was losing the game. Another recorded example of his generosity was when, as a nursing toddler, he offered me a sip of milk from my own breast!

Unlike Josh, his artistic older brother who radiated a large presence as he went about pursuing his grand plans, Dylan’s energy was more cautious and subtle. Quieter than his brother, he was the kind of kid who would play with a rope for an hour (eventually figuring out how to make a pulley). What was obvious in Josh was less so in Dylan, and so it was harder to see back then what his life passions would be. When I asked him the classic question “What do you want to be when you grow up, Dylan?” his only answer for a long time was “a sniper.” I had thought his habit of dropping paper clips through the floor boards of his room into mine, and his delight at hiding in the bushes and pelting me with berries when I was working in the garden was his sense of humor, but he saw it as a career.
My son Dylan, nicknamed "Dilly boy" or "Dilly bar" as a child, has become the capable man he was destined to be. He’s a good friend, a good worker, and has always been a good boyfriend, husband, and dad just waiting to happen.

I couldn’t be prouder.

Congratulations to Dylan, Alexis, and her daughter Kaylee, who are about to be one united family. See some wedding photos HERE.


Wonderful post, Colleen. As a mother, I can relate to every word!! Will be thinking of you this weekend.

Best wishes to the happy new family; you did a great job with your sons, Mom!

Oh, Colleen....what a touching post. And also, as a mother I can sure relate. I also kept a baby book for all three of mine, with precious anecdotes. I loved reading yours.
And I loved your great photos. Your emotion this past week is palpable, as it should be.
So now, enjoy the fruits of your labor as you witness this wonderful passage for your son. All the best to the new family with much happiness....and especially to you.

You seem to have wonderful sons. Congratulations Dylan, Alexis, and Kaylee! May you have many, many days of happiness and closeness!

Congratulations on raising two wonderful sons. May Dylan find happiness and joy in his life with Alexis. Have a wonderful celebration this weekend!!!

Hi Col, Writing from the hotel.
Dylan looks adorable!

We had a blast at the rehearsal dinner (good job!)

See you tonight at the wedding.

The love just radiates off of this page. It filled me with joy just reading it. Congratulations. To Dylan and his new family to be. And to you, Colleen. What a happy, happy time!

Hi Coll, Loved reading this. Had a lump in my throat knowing that someday (hopefully in the far off future....if time could just stand still) I'll be in your shoes. Have a great time today and wish the newlyweds the best from Trish and family!xxxxoooooooo

Your sons are adorable and have turned out to be fine young men, thanks to their mother. Please give the new family my congratulations on the wedding.

Mazel Tov on the Wedding of your dear sone, Colleen. I love the way you write about your children...so loving and expressive and I get a real sense of them...
What a wonderful special day today is...another transition for him and for all of his dear family, too...Particularly his dear Mama...Enjoy, Enjoy!

Grinning throughout. This is a marvelous portrait and tribute -- and Mazel Tov to Dylan, Alexis, and Kaylee -- and family!

Wonderful post! Congrats to you! on raising two fine young men.

I guess that the wedding has happened now, hope it went well, here from Michle's this afternoon.

Congratulations to you all!!! I also sat here with a lump in my throat while reading that (and a few tears that spilled over!). I went through old photo albums at my parents house this past weekend...and found a picture of your dad holding Kerry at my mom's house (my second daughter) on the recliner. Send our well wishes along with everyone else's!

Imagine unscrewing one's own crib to get out.

Those mother of the groom speeches are going to be fun. (smile)

What a sweet family.

Excellent! The wedding was excellent too.
Visit my blog for my take on it all....
Love to all!

Oh, Colleen, your post made me cry. My baby boy just turned 11 months-old this week, and already I feel the time slipping away. This esp. Dylan had to have two, one for each hand describes my boy too. He loves to be "double-fisted". LOL He like to examine things and how they work too. They are a wonder to watch.

Congratulations to your boy, and the newest members of your family!

A lovely post. Come visit and have a peek at my little guy. :)

wow! what a beautiful post colleen. i've got tears in my eyes dammit.

baby D offering you a sip... how sweet!

beautiful pictures and wonderful memories. thank you, thank you, THANK YOU :)

AWWW!!! What a wonderful post about your son. Congrats on his wedding. I hope you all had fun.

Congratulations to all! What a wonderful story, but the breast milk part...ROFLMAO!

Congratulations all around!

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