Monday, July 23, 2007

A Driving Force

The Blue Bengal was our inheritance. It had a giant steering wheel with the gear shift on the column, no power steering, and driving it dislocated my shoulder. It called out to a teenage boy, and we had one. They were made for each other. They were both totally unique.

Josh could make that car do anything. One busy Saturday he took it downtown and entered the twisting driveway of a parking garage. Halfway up the ramp, with several cars stuck behind him, the Bengal stalled. Josh got it started again, but it wouldn't go into first. With the honking becoming louder, and his face getting redder, he leaned all his weight on the gear shift and forced it to slip somewhere inside, allowing the car to drive forward. Later he realized he'd created a new gear. From then on Josh was the only one who knew the combination. The Bengal was his.

Josh has always been ingenious. He laid on the floor at eighteen months and figured out how to work the transformer on the electric train. He already had the patience to carefully place the tiny wheels on the track and start it chugging slow enough to keep it from slipping off. Then he'd turn on the speed. That's the story of Josh's life.

He looked so pure and innocent with his blond curls, but that kid kept me on my toes. Before he could even walk he was trouble. One midnight I heard the front door slowly open. I woke Dee up so he could go check on things, but he rolled over quickly and left the rescue effort to me. I quietly walked to the entry just in time to see the door close. I peeked out the side window, and there was Josh! He had climbed out of his crib, crawled down the hall, and since there was nothing going on inside, he had left! Is that scary enough?

Another night I woke up because I thought I could hear mice. There was a rustling sound coming from the kitchen. I went to investigate and there was Josh, sitting in the bread drawer, in the dark, having a midnight snack. We had to put him in a bed because he was such an acrobat on the crib railing, and that gave him freedom before he had any sense. I used to sleep on the floor of his room next to his door so he'd have to climb over me to get out. I don't know why we just didn't lock him in. I didn't have a lot of sense either.

Josh soon became our fix-it man, our go-to guy. He was agile, and handy and full of ideas and energy, and very independent. When he decided to take guitar he didn't bother to mention it to me. He lined everything up, figured out how to strap a big bass guitar to his bike and informed me he was going to his lesson several miles away. He was twelve. He did the same thing with gymnastics. He wanted to take lessons, and I put him off. It was dangerous, expensive and inconvenient. He researched it all, found a gym, signed up, and arranged to clean the gym to pay for lessons. He planned to ride his bike about 6 miles each way a few times a week. He was about thirteen at the time, and it was all set before he consulted us. He was totally self-motivated. How could we stand in his way?

He was my yard crew. One day I left him mowing the lawn, and when I came home a few hours later he had pulled down the fence that separated the front and back yard, taken out all the rose bushes and was redesigning the landscaping. He was fifteen and had not discussed it with me. He had just decided it could look better. Within a few days he had planted some new grass and bushes and it did look much better. I learned to trust his judgment and abilities.

Josh needed some extra money when he was a sophomore. He was already teaching gymnastics and cleaning the gym to pay for his coach and workouts. One day he came home from school and informed us that the high school had hired him. He was coaching the girl's gymnastics team! He was on the staff! He arranged their meets, taught a class during school hours, met regularly with the school counselor over extra-curricular activities, and received a paycheck from the school district.

While he was still in high school Josh finished our basement. He designed it, bought the materials and did the construction. We had electricians and others come in to OK his work, but he was the contractor. He built our deck about the same time.

Ever his own man, Josh informed us a couple of months before he graduated from high school that he had applied and been accepted at a college in a different city, and was going to start summer semester just two weeks after graduation. He had housing lined up and a job arranged. We had been nagging and wondering about his application to our local university, but he demonstrated that we really didn't need to worry about him. While he was away, he survived on oatmeal for months saving for contact lenses. It wasn't that we wouldn't have provided them for him, he just didn't want to ask!

When Josh was 21, cruising up the highway to life, something hit him like a truck! A cog slipped into place and a new gear was created in this most independent of men. He fell in love! Like everything in Josh's life, it was fast and furious, and six months later he found himself married, with a whole new life to plan.

Now a husband and father of three, Josh is a leader in his field. He got a double master's degree and went on to jobs with great prestige. Head hunters have found him and shipped him off to diverse places around the country, and now he is heading up a new office with even greater opportunities. He's already tearing out walls and redesigning the basement of their new house. He's planning Eco-challenges with his boys, and searching for ways to get off the grid. (He has never been on the grid!) He teaches and inspires those around him with his unique talents and energy.

The Blue Bengal eventually gave out enough sparks to set the road on fire. Josh is doing the same thing.


kenju said...

GO JOSH!! What a great kid. He reminds me of my son, who hit the ground running from birth.

We had a daughter whom it was impossible to keep in her bed and room at night, so we had to install a baby gate over her doorway and put a padlock on it. We were fine until she got big enough to crawl out over it....LOL

rp said...

I used to thank God that my son didn't climb out of his crib. Whew!! He did get really, really quiet one day when he was two, and I was, ahem, indisposed. I got nervous, and decided to investigate. Found him stading in the middle of the dining room table. Guess he wanted to check out the view.

I am looking forward to the mini bios of your other 4...They are such a joy to read. You really must have been an awesome mom.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Josh happens to be my favorite of the bunch (not that I'm biased or anything). Thanks for saying such great things. He is a keeper and I love him!

Bridget said...

I loved reading this post. We sure miss Christie and Josh. They are friends we will always cherish.

gab said...

Josh is amazing! So glad he has found a great wife and is raising fantastic kids. I think it's been great to read about all the are the in-laws next?

Kay Dennison said...

Yayyyyyyyyyy Josh!!!!

And yayyyyyyyyyy Mom! You did well, Marty!