Bonding With William

Ann had two birthday parties to attend yesterday; one of them being a sleep-over.  That left William and I to our own devices for several hours.  All of us hung out in the morning before Ann’s gatherings and ate lunch before dropping Ann off at her first engagement.  William and I ran a couple errands after that, (stopping for a strawberry smoothie at the mall), but afterward spent a good hour in the front yard throwing a football back and forth chatting.  That alone would have been great, but it was only the first act of what was to become.

While playing, William and I decided to take a bike ride after dropping Ann off at her second venue.  So before doing that, we loaded our bikes on the car, grabbed a snack, and packed some water.  We weren’t sure where to go after Ann was successfully delivered, but I suggested Gallop Park.  It’s a place we’ve been and enjoyed before.  While it’s not especially close, it’s a place we haven’t fully explored and I felt in which we could have new experiences.  William agreed, so that’s where we went.

We started at the East end of the park and headed west.  After a while, the official trail ended, but we were not ready to head back.  So, we started riding on the sidewalks heading into the city of Ann Arbor proper.  At this point, one has to head up, so that’s what we did—up and up and up past the UM hospital and helicopter pads, with the end of one hill just being the beginning of another.  William just kept pedaling and saying he didn’t want a break whenever I asked.

So we pressed on until we were at the top.  And even then, we kept going.  There was no ultimate goal to this trek; just a shared experience.  And although I knew it before, I was reminded at how much my son and I had in common.  I had a few moments where I thought that it wouldn’t be long before I couldn’t keep up with him.  But I also knew that at that point, he would be there then asking kindly if we should take a short break to relax—in love with the goal of extending our time together and nothing more.  When that happens—as it will—I figure I’ll be the one refusing a reprieve and insisting to press on; we’re both headstrong and stubborn in that regard.

When we decided to head up the hills past the UM hospital, I had the thought that we should make the goal of our travel the gravestone of my (step) grandmother.  I didn’t know her until later in life, and William was too young at the time of her passing to remember her, but I suggested the visit and he wanted to do it.  So we—our mutual option to do so—did.  The gravestone was only placed a couple weeks before, (over three years after Ann and I had been at her funeral—William being too young to attend in my view at the time).  We rode around a bit looking at markers—some over a hundred years old which William pointed out in amazement—but William and I couldn’t locate my grandmother’s marker.  We finally called my (step) dad who guided us to it after a period of misunderstandings about what was the “second right”.  The attached picture is what we took.

After that, William and I coasted mostly downhill back the way we came.  We stopped at a gap where I remembered the Nicolas Arboretum joined with Gallop Park and took a treacherous path up to the train tracks and back down.  William, (as I should have expected), wouldn’t take any help navigating his bike and ended up in the dirt and gravel a couple times ending up dirty and scratched.  But he did it—on his own steadfastly refusing any assistance.  It was tough to not step in, but, as he stated in own words words, this was his hurdle to manage—and he did it.

After this detour, we finally ended up back on the paved path and later at the car, loaded the bikes up, and headed for dinner.  Because I didn’t have anything planned or thawed for dinner, (the meal schedule for that night said “Liam’s choice” because I knew Ann would be away), we ended up stopping at a Mexican place off Michigan Avenue with “Jesus” as a waiter and the Tiger’s game on the TV in front of us.  I’m not a big baseball fan, but William knows a lot about the game and especially the Tigers.  Hanging out with him watching the tail-end of the game and having him give his opinions on players and how things were being managed was priceless.  It was late, but we stayed at the restaurant until the end of the game before heading home.

It’ll probably be a different experience as we recall it later on through our own remembrances, but imagine the overall theme being the same; father and son sharing a moment together.  Amen to that!

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