I opened my sons door this morning and looked at him sleeping as I have done many times in his 23 years of life. He doesn’t look all that comfortable these days in a single bed. Six foot three of long arms and legs lying akimbo beneath a single doona, hair tousled as it has always been. Always my son, always my child, no matter how old he becomes.
He is in the army now, studying to be an officer, and there is a real likelihood next year that he will be posted to any of the several war zones that our men and women are serving in. Is it wrong to say that I fear that? Should a father willingly let his children go at some time? Of course I will do so, telling him that I am proud and not letting on that the thought of it shakes me to my boots now and then when I let it.
There is a rush of years and events do occur in the blink of an eye so that the face that peers back from the mirror each morning seems more like that of an old man than of myself. Sometimes. At other times it is the same smile I see in photographs of myself as a child and the faces of my children are still those they have always been.
Maybe this sometimes maudlin feeling is a sign that the approach of my 50th birthday is getting to me more than I ever thought it would. But milestone birthdays are like that – there is no logical reason to think that a great change will occur from one day to the next but it’s hard to escape that feeling sometimes.