Sunday, August 30, 2009

Make a Wish

Very good friends of my family know that my nephew, Wil, has just left for his two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After a two-month stint at a training center where he'll be learning Spanish, among other things, Wil heads off for areas in El Salvador, San Salvador West and Belize.

My oldest brother Sterling, Wil's father, wrote these words in the final days before Wil's departure last week. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Make a Wish
Sterling Wright

“Good point. Hey, look, it’s 11:11. Make a wish!”

I don’t know which of my children introduced the practice of wishing when the clock showed all ones. Like wishing on a star or over a burning birthday cake, the clock wish has been a harmless habit in my household for many years.

At this particular 11:11, my son Wil and I were leaving the parking lot of Lowe’s, the back of the minivan filled with materials we needed to get his room ready for its next occupant. The combination of a beautiful day, a minivan, and Lowe’s turned my mind back to the first time Wil and I were in this parking lot. It was a sunny day in March, 1990. I was an exhausted father who needed to stop for a box of nails. Wil was a quiet newborn taking one of his first rides in the van.

He was so new and quiet and I was so tired that I forgot he was with me. Only when I looked in the mirror after getting back in the van did I remember – with more than a little shock – that I had the baby that morning. He looked at me without judgment or complaint. He was simply waiting for me to tell him what I bought.

When he was six or so, Lowe’s expanded from an over-sized hardware store to the man-malls that we know today. It wasn’t too far from the church so we went window-shopping while my oldest was at Mutual. The store had only been open for a couple of days and it had that new store smell. It took over an hour to visit every aisle. Wil wanted to know what everything was and how it worked.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we have made hundreds of trips to Lowe’s together. Wil still wants to know what things are, how they work, and what they are used for. The big difference is that I can no longer get away with vague or fabricated answers. “It makes water better to drink” doesn’t cut it any more.

There were no questions today, just two men getting the job done. As I got ready to pull out of the parking space, Wil said, “I just realized that this might be the last time we go to Lowe’s together before I leave.”

By the time anyone reads this, my only son will be in the Mission Training Center getting ready to go to El Salvador. Those of you who have sent missionaries into the field know how the date creeps up on you. It is down the last aisle of the store by the drywall and lumber. Then suddenly it’s right in front of you. Then you are driving home from Lowe’s alone.

I turned to grin at him and we shared a realization based on my home improvement track record. I gave it voice. “Son, this might not be the last time you come to Lowe’s with me today."

“Good point. Hey, look, it’s 11:11. Make a wish!”

I wish you were six again.


  1. What a wonderful note from a father to his son..
    Boy talent does run in your family.
    Thank you for sharing this with us and I want to extend my best wishes to Will on his new adventure and also to his family to have the strength needed to watch him spread his wings. I will keep you all in my prayers.

  2. what a sweet memory for both father and son :)
    its so difficult to see them grow up and move away, but then knowing they are going to do the Lords work makes it so worthwhile :)
    i hope the adjustments are easier than expected and your nephew has a successful mission.

  3. Who loves it? I do! I admire your brother for taking the time to write this down. I do not know you, but how my heart has been touched by the love expressed by a father for his son.

    Thank you for sharing this. Our babes grow too fast and little reminders to slow down and enjoy them are priceless. Thank you again.

  4. Thank you for the kind comments. I enjoyed writing it even though it made me cry, too. Wil is a special young man.

    1. Beautiful piece. Did you and your family live in Lake Forest during the 1970s. If so I believe we may have met.

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