Friday, January 21, 2011

Josh Growing Up

When I think of Josh growing from middle school to college, I remember . . .

Soccer!  (And the seemingless endless driving that it required.)  Community team, premier team, high school teams, tournaments, indoor, outdoor, preseason, intramural, and beach.  I've never really grasped the appeal of sports, but I did love to watch a soccer ball arc through a blue sky and a mop of blonde hair chasing it down.

Photography - Josh became interested in black-and-white photography in middle school.  I wish he had continued with it past high school; he had a wonderful eye for shape and light.  One of the eighth grade requirements of the kids' Montessori middle school was a peace project, and he decided to create an album of photographs of monuments in Washington, D.C.  He and I drove down there and walked for maybe seven miles one day; we had to take the train to Arlington and to the Iwo Jima monument, but the rest of the day was walk walk walk.  We had such a great time together!

Flying - Yes, airplanes.  In middle school, Josh volunteered at the Auto and Aviation Museum, and in high school he took flying lessons for awhile. I think he even passed the first FAA exam required to obtain a pilot's license; I remember him studying for it.  Eventually the high cost of the whole enterprise became apparent, and he decided that it could wait until he was out of school and working.  In fact, the possibility of his resuming flying lessons in Chicago was one of the last things he and I talked about.

And France.  Josh went to France for 11th grade, living with a French family and studying in an American program in Rennes.  That year was a witness to his sense of adventure and determination, as he planned to fly to Paris on 9/12/01 and made it there with his class about ten days later.  It was an expression of his gentle and generous spirit, as he settled into a new family and a new culture. It was an opportunity for new travel and new relationships for the rest of us.

Josh loved the feeling of being part of a world bigger than himself.  The visual world that he saw through his lens, the world below that he saw from a pilot's seat, the international world that he glimpsed in high school.  On January 1, 2002, the euro made its debut, and he slipped out of our hotel room in Paris  early in the morning to find some.  Three ATM machines later he was back with a fistful of bills, exclaiming, "This is the first event of international significance that I've been part of!"

I heard from his French mother just before this past Christmas, in a long email translated for me by her oldest son, who had been a fine brother to Josh.  It was a beautiful reminder that he was loved there as well as here.  I had so looked forward to the possibility of both families reuniting someday ~ and now that will never happen.

It was a great joy, though, to mother that boy into adulthood.


  1. Such a precious chain of memories. I love reading about your beautiful Josh, and look forward to more. He was obviously such a bright, exuberant boy and you all gave him such a rich childhood.

  2. I was thinking the same thing that Karen said...

  3. What Karen said. Please tell us more, as you feel moved. He sounds like such a fascinating, multi-hued, gifted person.