21 years of Luke

Last weekend we finally celebrated Luke’s 21st.  This was after 4 attempts over a period of 10 months, due to Luke’s last-minute decisions and/or forgetfulness (it all becomes clear if you keep reading).  Anyway, we had a great time with a mixture of family and friends at his cousin’s place in Wellington.  Francelle put together a marvellous feast complete with a fresh farm ham and local produce from our home in Richmond that we stashed in our flights bags before we left.

I know there were a number of people who would have like to have been there so I’m posting my speech that I gave (with Luke’s permission).  I think sums up our Luke pretty accurately.  Have fun!

On April 3 1995 a lively little red-haired boy arrived into the world.  His parents hadn’t quite figured out his name yet.  Would he be James, Luke, Liam or Ewan?  His mother liked the sound of James.  His father leaned toward Luke.

“He doesn’t look like a James” his father said.
“So what is a ‘James’ supposed to look like?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure he wouldn’t look like that”
So Luke he became.

You were a hoot Luke, even in those early months.  Never had I seen a baby so full of life and laughter and expression.  Your brother Mark didn’t quite know what to make of you.  He would watch you leap and bound in the jolly-jumper:

Up and down
Up and down
Over and over and over
While you screeched with delight.

“Uke” he would say (Mark hadn’t mastered the ‘L’ yet)
“Uke – what are you doing?”

“Uke” was in his own little world, a world full of excitement and discovery.  “Uke” wasn’t going to simply watch life go by.  He would create life.  He would make it happen.

You used to read your books upside down.  For hours.   We would go over and turn them the right way up.  New pictures! How about that.  We should have realized then you would be one who would like at life differently than most.

We bought you a pack of plastic reptiles – lizards and dinosaurs for Christmas.  From the minute they came out of the box they came to life, appearing in the strangest places around the house –behind shampoo bottles, in bookshelves, under pillows and on window sills. You were in your own little Jurassic world.

Then came ‘Woody’ (everyone remembers Woody). Your aunt took both you boys to Toys-R-Us store in the States. You could pick whatever toy you wanted.  When you saw a big-sized Woody smiling at you on the shelf, it was love at first sight.  He had a pull cord on his back which you would yank repeatedly. Whenever we heard, “Howdy partner” or “Someone’s poisoned my waterhole,” we knew where you were.

Then came school and your world-to-be-discovered just became bigger.  So many new things to learn – so much history and art and culture and language.  With all that came more questions and a greater need to understand this place called earth that God had put you on.

Somewhere in all of that it became evident that although you had an unusual capacity to understand deep things, you had great difficulty understanding the simple things – like remembering where you put things down or getting somewhere on time.  Your parents guessed that this was perhaps just a development issue; that part of your brain was still forming.  Your mother worried it might be because you rolled off the bed as a baby and landed on your head.  In any case, we both hoped you’d grow out of it.

We were wrong. 

They didn’t think it could be possible that a young man with so much talent and intelligence could possibly be so utterly forgetful about – well, almost EVERYTHING.  The list of things you would forget included:

Phone numbers and address
Exam times
Flight times
And just about anything else that is important

Like the address of the house we are driving you to (Oh what memories we have of this!).  Here’s how the conversation went:

“I’m sure they live somewhere around here… it’s a white house, with a fence and a big tree.  Except this doesn’t quite look like the same street – can we go back down that street we just passed?  Wait a minute – don’t – I just remembered something, they said they live near a school…”

And then there was the problem of ‘misplacing’ things.  You never lost anything – just misplaced it.  The list of ‘misplaced’ items included:

Contact lenses
House keys
Wallets (you went through a few)
Your driver’s licence
Mobile phones (how many have you owned in your short lifetime –  20?)
Even passports

You had two of them. A U.S. passport and a NZ passport.  You could have lost one and still had the other.  But no, you had to lose both.  Usually the conversation went something like this:

“Mum, dad don’t get mad at me…”
“Dad, we have this problem…”

That’s the line we got driving on the LA freeway the day before you were to fly back to New Zealand.  You were in the back seat.  I remember it like it was day:

“Mum, Dad there’s a little problem…”
“OK, Luke – what is it now?”
“Well, you see, I’ve misplaced my passport”
“Misplaced it or lost it?”
“Well actually I think it was stolen”
“Stolen?  That’s pretty serious.  Did you ever report it?”
“Well I didn’t know it was stolen.. until this morning.”
“And you are getting on a plane tomorrow.”
“Yeah, but it will be OK, because I’m just going back to New Zealand.”
“Oh yeah, and sure, you’ll turn up at immigration and they’ll go, “High Luke, great to have you back. Don’t worry about the passport. We know you – just walk on through””

Luke we love you – you know that.  But there have been moments whenever we wondered if we would ever make it to 60 without having mental breakdown or stress-related heart attacks.

Aside from all of that Luke, we think you are an awesome person.

  • You are intelligent, witty and have a great sense of humour
  • You take a deep interest in people who have a different background, culture and thinking than your own
  • You are sensitive, empathetic, compassionate and understanding

Many people go through life taking form the world anything and everything they can for themselves.  You aren’t like that.  You look for ways to give to the world.  We think you’ll make a fine husband and dad one day.  Just as long as you find a woman who can carry the following:

Your phone
Your wallet
The house and car keys
Your passport and ID
A diary for important appointments
And a record of –  well any important document you need in life.

Happy 21st Luke.  We’re glad you remembered it was on, and you got off that shift at work tonight.

Footnote: Luke was actually down for a shift – on his 21st.  He forgot.  His brother Mark forced him to front up to his employer earlier in the day and ask/beg/plead to make it to his 21st on time.  He did… just.

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