“Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age fifteen.
-Willa Sibert Cather
The above quote is especially true for kids in my family. Yesterday the twins turned fifteen.
They live at opposite ends of the family personality spectrum. They live on opposite sides of the family looks department. And yet they are the sole set of twins in our baker’s dozen assortment of siblings.
Zeke sent me a letter when I lived in Toronto. He must have been about eight.
“Dear Erin,” it read, “today was a good day. Could have been worse. Glad it wasn’t. Love, Zeke.” He drew a picture of a little boy and some animals above the letter. It hung on my wall in my office in Toronto. It lives in a shoebox of memories now, and it so captures who Zeke is: optimistic as all get out, always able to find the bright side. He is the huggiest of us all, eager to hear how your day went, slow to feel the need to fill his time with busyness.
All in all, Zeke is a great kid. He loves the violin, excels in school.
Zak accompanied me on the first trip I took to Mexico. He was eleven. I have photos of his eleven-year-old self standing beside me at the beach in Mazatlan. He was the only kid on the team, and he trail-blazed the way for every trip that followed to be kid inclusive.
Zak engages. He’s witty, creative and smart. He knows how to hold the attention of a room. Natural leadership sits on his shoulders. He wears it well when he wants to.
All in all, Zak is a great kid. He plays the piano and guitar as well as anyone in our family and writes a great story… and he looks just like me.
The twins turned fifteen yesterday, and I look at them and see them standing on the verge of manhood. They’ve hit that life stage where their choices seem more defining. I see in each of them grace and hope and wonder. It’s hard to believe they’ll be driving next year…
My dad used to tuck the little boys in by saying, “I like you and I love you and God put greatness in you.” I believe that for these two.
Love you up to the sky and back, Zeke and Zak. Happy birthday. Can’t wait to see how that greatness continues to emerge…