Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Saving Jimmy

I was born "James," moved through early childhood as "Jimmy," and have lived most of my now-sixty years as "Jim."

"James" was one of the good Bible names chosen by my parents, following the pattern of John and Stephen selected for my two older brothers. Mom still calls me James, plus a very few very close friends who realize that it can be a moniker of intimacy, not just formality. "James B." is my secret favorite, expressed by my buddy "John T."--both of us including our middle initial to create a rhyming duo.

"Jimmy," though, in the moniker to which I am most attached. I recall these early childhood years with a kind of rosy glow, especially the memories of long journeys in the woods, encounters with the wonders of nature, and leisurely time with brothers spent playing ball, raising insects, creating hideaways, and just doing what boys do. Taste, smell, sight, touch---everything then was direct and intense, unencumbered with onerous responsibility.

In adult years, "Jim" took over as provider/doer/achiever. There are a number of things I've done in that capacity in which I take considerable pride, but central among them is the way I've kept Jimmy alive. On occasions I've had internal duologues in which I've been able to say to him, "I've never forgotten you, no matter how busy I've been. I've worked hard to provide what was needful, and some toys along the way. I'm sorry that sometimes you may have felt neglected, But now...Hey, it's called second childhood. Can you come out and play?"

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