Poplar Bluff, Missouri: Tomorrow is the 34th birthday of our youngest son, Lance, and I want to wish him the happiest birthday ever. Lance, I don't think you have the slightest idea how much I love you. I wish I would have known you the first five years of your life. When you came to us at age five, you were the cutest little guy I've ever seen, and now you are a very handsome man, but I didn't get to see you as a baby. I feel I've missed out on so much. When did you sleep through the night? What was your first word? Were you a cuddly little baby? What were your favorite baby foods? Did you have a favorite stuffed animal? I don't know any of those things. I only know that when you and your brother walked up our sidewalk that day, you walked straight into my heart.
I don't think I've ever told you this before, but when I was in college I had my whole life planned out. I was going to have 6 kids. 3 boys and 3 girls. Well, it didn't work out quite that way as it seemed after the first daughter and two sons that we would have to settle for 3 kids. Then we looked into foster care, and eventually adoption, and ended up with 7 kids, 2 girls and 5 boys, a bit different from the original plan. And I had even named all 6 of those kids I was ideally going to have. Well, things ended up quite differently in that area too, all except for one name. Have I ever told you that way back in college I wanted a son named Lance? It was in God's plan all along that you would become my son!
Through the years you have grown from the little guy with bushy hair and no front teeth, into the wonderful man you are today. We've had our ups and downs, and life hasn't been easy for you at times, but you have become stronger because of the trials. If I had to come up with one adjective to describe you it would be "gentle" man. You are a gentleman in all senses of the word. You married a wonderful girl that we are so proud to have in our family, and the two of you have two precious daughters. When I see you with the girls, I see that "gentle" man I speak of. The kindness, love and respect you treat me and dad with can only come from a gentle man. And not just us......you show that same kindness and respect to grandma, your aunts and uncles, and all your elders.
I am so proud of you! Proud of the love and devotion you show your family, proud of your dedication to your job, proud of your love for the outdoors and God's awesme creation, proud of your determination to be the best you can be, proud of your talents, and proud of your gentleness. I am proud to call you son, my gentle son.
Here's hoping that tomorrow dawns bright, sunny and warm, and that you will get a chance to play outdoors with the girls and your dog, and maybe get in a little hunting! Dad and I will celebrate you. We love you dearly.