It’s amazing how little things can start long time traditions.

About 10 years ago my wife was ill for several days during the second week of February. On February 14th that year she finally started feeling a little better but still not very good. Cabin fever was setting in and if she didn’t get out of the house we’d all regret it.

Not feeling up to a “nice” dinner out she opted for cheap hamburgers at a local stand. Not having a sitter we had to take the kids with us. They sat quietly at a nearby table and Lisa and I had a chance to enjoy some conversation.

Ever since then our traditional Valentine’s dinner has been cheap burgers at some local joint. Sometime we’re alone but often we’re accompanied by children, friends, out of town guests, or other people.

If you listen to the morning radio shows on any given February 14th you’ll hear how people are planning huge romantic celebrations…expensive meals…jewelry…or other ‘traditional’ ways of demonstrating their love for their chosen ‘valentine.’

As for me - I’ll gladly settle for cheap hamburgers and quiet conversation. Truth be known, maybe we’re not the ones settling.

While sorting through some old paperwork tonight I came across a handmade valentine from my daughter. It was small, on purple paper and covered with red markers and silver glitter. She had drawn a heart around her name. It looks like something she would have made when when she was five or six years old. In her little handwriting she had penned,

“I love you when I see you.
My heart comes out.
Happy Valentines
Love Emma”
I had to stop what I was doing for a while to consider this. What a bold and wonderful way of expressing how a little girl feels.Every father always hopes and prays that he can inspire this type of devotion within his children…and especially a little girl.

I guess every dad dreams that he will always be the only man in his daughter’s life. I know that someday she’ll find someone else who will ‘make her heart come out’ and I’ll be relegated to a new role. And that is as it should be.

But at least for now…I’ll cherish where we are and strive to remain worthy of a little girl’s love.

A couple of years after Lisa and I were married I began to get an interest in finding out about my heritage. For some reason that had never been important in our family and, at that time, I didn’t even know my grandfather’s name. When the thought of children came around I began to feel a real need to discover something about our history so that I could pass it on to my kids. With this motivation I began to dig in.

Having spent the last 20 years studying my family’s genealogy I still find myself fascinated by the things that I find. I found that my 5th great grandmother was Hannah Boone, the younger sister of pioneer Daniel Boone. Over time I’ve added literally thousands of people and hundreds of family stories to my data files. One day I’ll work and get these compiled and published (just one more item on my to do list).

My oldest brother had not been exposed to much of our family history other than a few casual conversations that we’d had over the years. When he and his wife came to visit us this summer I told him that we needed to spend a day uncovering some roots that he was unfamiliar with. We drove to Kentucky and saw the Old Mulkey Meeting House where she was a founding member and was eventually buried on the grounds.

Hannah Boone
As I stand there reading the old headstones and reading the histories of such people I begin to wonder about how they lived, loved, worked and thought. The questions roll through your mind and you ask yourself…
What separates me from her besides 6 feet and 260 years?
How are we alike and how are we different?
What were her dreams and aspirations?
Did she see them fulfulled?
What would she think if she saw where her progeny have traveled over the last quarter millenium?
Would she be proud or ashamed?
If she had a chance to do it again, what would she do differently?
As I think on these matters I look another 260 years down the road and wonder about what the future holds for my own decendents. Will the day come when a 10th generation decendent of Hannah stands over a marker wondering about me the same way?It’s impossible to understand the inner most thoughts of those who have gone before us and it will be unlikely that those who follow us will come to understand all of the things of which we’ve dreamed. I’m sure that my motivations and aspirations will be as much a mystery to some future generation as her’s are to me. But, I believe also that it is up to each of us to do the best we can with the time and resources with which we’re blessed and to live a life in such a manner that our children…and their children will be proud.

I don’t know who my grandfather was; I’m much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

It comes in waves. One day I’ve got a sixteen year old and a grade schooler. The next day one is a 17 year old senior and the baby is in middle school. It’s not fair — you don’t even get to catch your breath.

Nathan turned 17 today and I’m feeling older. He looks good - growing up well. He’s polite, responsible, and generally a good kid. He has his moments…but so do the rest of us.

It seems like yesterday it was skates and skinned knees. Today his interests are perfume, gunpowder, and gasoline…three scents with the strongest effect possible on the teen age male (and some who just act like teenagers). Now its discussion of college and beyond and he presents reasonable concepts and ideas. Where did this kid come from? It seems like two weeks ago his ’solutions’ were another term for some hair brained concept. Today - that’s not the case and I’m the one struggling trying to keep up.

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