Published in the Community Chronicle December 15, 2019:
Asking a child what he wants to be when he grows up can be very entertaining. I’m sure my son Christian went through the typical hero-worship phase, but the first career ambition I remember was when he began kindergarten. We lived within walking distance of the school, and I was a stay-at-home mom, so we got in some exercise as well as some together time when the weather permitted. We had to cross one major street, and Christian immediately fell in love with the kind man with the bright orange vest and bright red sign who greeted him every day and escorted him safely across the street. Forget the fireman, policeman, and even Spider Man – he wanted to be a crossing guard.
Christian showed great ambition through the years. He wrote his first story as soon as he could hold a pencil, and he created his first book out of samples our paper-salesman neighbor gave him. In the summer he carried lemonade around in his wagon, visiting the neighbors who were working in their yards instead of waiting for them to come to him, and in December he knocked on doors, offering bundles of mistletoe tied with red yarn for 50 cents each.
Then he discovered music. For the next decade I provided the practice venue for various garage bands and fended off irate neighbors who were trying to take a nap. I was his chief roadie, driving him to drum lessons and transporting his trap set in the back of my car to occasional gigs. When he switched to guitar and got his own car, I lost my job as roadie, but I was still his number one fan. I shudder at the memory of some of the bars I visited, but after they played their set, he or one of the band members would escort me safely to my car.
During the years when I was single again and he was a starving college student, we often sat around the dinner table with a couple of friends and talked about the coffee shop we’d own one day. My friend Mary would take care of the food and drinks, Christian would be in charge of the music, and I would be the business manager. Since we couldn’t even afford to eat dinner out, we certainly didn’t have the capital to open a business, but dreams are free.
When Christian graduated from college, he had offers to join corporate America, but he declined those offers in favor of opportunities that were more consistent with his dreams and that allowed him to walk his own children to school. He wrote grants for non-profits, he wrote for magazines and newspapers, he published a number of books, and he started an online business that provided secretarial and writing services. Later on, he owned and operated a publishing company, created a very popular podcast, and provided podcast services for other organizations.
Christian’s wife Amy, who is a minister, was recently called to a church in Granbury, Texas. The move posed no problem for his business ventures since he works from home. However, while they were looking for a place to start a community ministry, he walked into an empty space that looked like a wreck to me but looked like a dream come true to him. After several months of intense planning, learning, and work, he is weeks away from opening a coffee shop, or what he calls a drinkery. He will serve specialty coffees and teas, craft beers, and gourmet snacks with a background of live jazz.
In a recent conversation, I told him it seemed as if everything he has done up to this point has been preparing him for this venture. “Yeah,” he responded. “I know this sounds like an old man, but this is the last thing on my career bucket list – except for crossing guard.” And I have no doubt he’ll eventually do that, too.
I’ve learned a lot from my son, most importantly that it’s never too late to begin something new! I earned my Bachelors Degree when I was 51, I married the love of my life at 52, I learned to ride a motorcycle at 54, and I published my first book after I began collecting Social Security. I spent the early years of my life being cautious, but I’m learning to be open to all that God has in store for me. How about you? What’s on your bucket list?