Dear Madden, it’s been two years and a day since you came into the world Oct. 5, 2009, at 8:36 p.m. Who knew that such a compact mass of humanity could have such a profound effect on your PawPaw and those who love you?
You’ve long outgrown your nickname “The Crouton” and are living large as “Tiny Man,” ever on the go, nonstop broadening your horizons of the world and learning how it works.
Toward that end, it certainly helps that our neighbors are gracious as you make your expeditions through their yards, the smallest stone capturing your undivided scrutiny, oak bolls becoming treasured toys, gardens providing a never-ending source of discovery as you poke spiders in their webs and prod waddling earwigs.
And you unfailingly share your delight and discoveries with PawPaw, helping rejuvenate my sense of wonder as I see the world anew through your eyes and actions.
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My fervent birthday wish for you, Tiny Man, is that you don’t lose your curiosity and wonder, your grin-inspiring laugh and amazing standup-comic-timing sense of humor.
In that light, here are some collected truisms that — especially in an uncertain world — have healed hurts, given faith and hope, and helped lead to life’s greatest gifts of laughter and friendship. I give them to you now as a bug in your ear, with the hope they’ll be there when you get older and feel the need for some comforting words:
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” — Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh
“Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.” — Mark Twain
“Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” — John Wooden
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” — Henry David Thoreau
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Seuss
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” — Marcel Proust
“There are hundreds of languages in the world, but a smile speaks them all.” — Anonymous
“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.” — Arthur Rubinstein
“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” — G.K. Chesterton
“Follow your bliss.” — Joseph Campbell
Always remember this, on your birthdays and everyday, Madden: We’re all in this together, and we love you dearly.Your adoring PawPaw
Bill Morem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 781-7852.