A couple days ago the phone rang and I got the one-word voice recognition test: “Hey.”
“Derek? Is that you?”
“Well, my f###ing gawd!” I exclaimed. (I was immediately sorry I’d said that. Derek is very religious. Yet he didn’t seem to have been offended.)
It had been at least six months since we’d last talked. I’d left numerous messages on his voicemail and on his Facebook wall—on his birthday, especially—to no avail. But it didn’t worry me. We’re cool.
“How are you doing?”
“Great,” he said, and he wasn’t kidding. He really couldn’t be doing better.
Among other things, he has a new full-time job he loves, his group living situation continues to be very positive and supportive, he is still exercising a leadership role in his church youth group, he is doing a little public speaking to inspire kids, and he is planning to visit Europe in January.
One of his best friends—a new mentor—is a young Florida state cop who is “always packing” (so they can take long walks on the beach at night without fear of being hassled by the criminal element which lurks there). Derek has avoided any trouble whatsoever and is living a perfectly normal, self-reliant, and happy life.
Yes, happy. Derek was absolutely glowing. I could hear it in his voice. It was the glow one observes in the behavior of only those who are living lives of purpose. Derek is grateful, content, and yet never complacent. He is striving and progressing. He told me he has kept the above photo, taken here, as his Facebook profile picture because it is so expressive of how he’s feeling about his life.
And here is the best part: he doesn’t need me.
If that strikes you as an odd thing for me to be celebrating, let me explain. From the beginning of The Redemption Project and this blog, our mantra has been “Freedom, Self-Responsibility, and Adventure.” Derek is doing it all.
We are not into creating relationships with our kids which rely on mutual dependency.
“Of all our kids,” I told him proudly, “you’re the only one who’s free.” He’s making his own way in the world. And he’s experiencing all kinds of adventure.
The resonance I felt in our conversation confirmed the success of our relationship and our continued association. I felt like a bank loan officer talking to a customer who doesn’t need a loan.
“How can we be helping you, Derek?” I asked.
When he returns from Europe, we will help him to acquire a car. Right now his whole world of opportunity is restricted to the walking proximity around his house. To strike out further, he must ask friends (of which he has many) for rides. But this has its limitations. He cannot consider future job or career opportunities which would require him to drive some distance to work every day. We can’t expect Derek King to “go far” without a car.
Maybe someone out there has a reliable vehicle they would like to contribute. A reliable driver is available and in need of it.
Groove of the Day