My father was always fond of puzzles. He told me that there was a beauty in individual pieces all coming together and culminating into a work of art that conveyed a message of an artist. He taught me to start at the edges and then find points of reference and work on it one piece at a time. He really emphasized that; “one piece at a time.” He would sit for hours upon hours, piecing together a portion of a sunset or a forest. At times, it would seem too daunting, with nothing but piece after piece of blue paint streaks that ended up being an entire ocean. Yet, at the end of the day, after all of the confusion and the tedious work - there was the reward. This masterpiece laying before the one who was patient and endured to witness the picture the creator intended.

Often I didn’t have the energy to tolerate the time it took to piece a puzzle together one square inch at a time. I would look at the box and see what it was supposed to look like and desire it to be done already. It could be overwhelming, and at times the relaxing and therapeutic nature was gone and it became work. But my father didn’t have that problem. He maintained his forbearance and scanned the table, calmly, and pinpointed the next piece he needed. “Another one,” he’d say, and inspect the table again. It kept his mind sharp. “I don’t read books,” he would say, “I should read books, maybe, but I don’t. I do puzzles.” Whatever the puzzles did, it worked. He was wise. His knack for patience, delicate stoicism and attention to relevant detail expanded beyond the puzzles and into everyday life.

I would tend to get ahead of myself. Thinking too far in advance too frequently or over analyzing redundant nonsense that proved to be nothing but trivial burdens I made myself bear. He would be there to calm me down and remind me to tackle life “one piece at a time.” “Easier said than done,” I’d reply, and he’d agree. However, he wasn’t reminding me of “one piece at a time” for the sake of making life easier, he told me that so I knew life was possible when it seemed impossible. Day by day, week by week, and month by month he would prove himself, again and again, to be right. Every worry, fear, and anxiety I had would manifest into nothing and instead every heartache and moment of wearisome distress would assemble into a display of accomplishment, just like the puzzles.

Through school, college, and work his words of experience and foresight echoed in my mind on a daily basis bringing me the poise and discernment I needed to advance in life. This led me to my wife. I remember traveling home for the holidays and telling my father all about her. Her smile, her laugh, the way I made her happy and the merriment she made me feel. It was healthy that I had developed a joyful well-being, meeting her at a time in my life when she didn’t complete my life but enhanced it. I did the same for her. My father reminded me of the beauty in the individual pieces coming together and culminating into a work of art that conveyed the message of love that God intended for us all along when He declared that it is not good for mankind to be alone.

As we courted we started at the basics and found common ground. From there we went into the deeper issues one conversation at a time. It wasn’t always easy work, but the effort was always worth it. After long talks, tears, and in the midst of confusion, misunderstanding, and a fatiguing grind we’d find ourselves loving each other with an affection more powerful and fortified than it had been before - refined in the crucible of conversation.

I proposed, she said “yes!” We counted the days, a couple seasons passed, and soon every concern, doubt, and angst we had endured in the meticulous refinement as a couple through counseling and planning of our forthcoming life amassed into a unity of two people in love. Within the year, we were married. Soon thereafter we were expecting. Two people, falling in love in spite of all the world would throw at them, and God rewards them with the most fitting and grandest reward of all: new life.

I used to think maternity pictures were somewhat odd, but now can’t help but I look at them every day with a longing smile beaming across my face. I will forever cherish that time of life, seeing our precious baby develop in her humble body. I remember the day we found out it was a boy. We had closed our eyes as blue powder was poured into our cupped hands. We threw the powder into the air and opened our eyes to behold the sapphire particles dancing in the sky. We immediately decided he’d be named after myself, as I was named after my father before me and his father before him.

When the big day came I forgot every book, blog, and video I consumed in preparation to be the best husband I could be for her. Fortunately, I had enough sense in me to gather our overnight supplies and get her to the hospital as fast as possible. I stood by her side as she screamed in agony, never entertaining the thought of leaving her side. The shouts of pain, insults, and pleas to God all muffled through the hours that passed and soon our baby boy came into our world. He was bloody, wet, and crying - but he was ours, and because of that I had never witnessed anything so magical as the birth of our child.

After my son was cleaned up they handed him to my wife, wrapped in a clean, white and tiny blanket. “He has your eyes, Mr. Peters,” the nurse said. “What’s his name?”
With tears of joy in her eyes and a sobbing baby cozying up in her arms my wife answered, “Charlie. His name is Charlie.” My wife and I smiled and I came in closer to my child, running my hand along his miniature head. Little Charlie, with eyes half opened, calmed down for the briefest of moments and held his hand back up towards my head and all at once the whole world paused.

The nurse smiled, “Like father, like son.”