The year was 1999.
Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France title.
The euro was established as the standardized currency unit across the nations of Europe. (Nearly two decades later, Great Britain still embraces the pound. As well as tepid beer. But that’s beside the point.)
The world braced itself for the perceived technological apocalypse known as Y2K.
Advancements like Bluetooth, MySpace and Napster were just being introduced. (Also known as a means of confusing people everywhere as to whom you’re speaking, slacking off at work and, well, stealing.)
Groundbreaking shows like Friends, Frasier, ER and The X-Files were still producing and airing original episodes on prime-time television.
Moviegoers were lining up to see the highly-anticipated Stars Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace as well as blockbusters like The Sixth Sense, American Beauty and American Pie. (I only saw the last three. Unapologetically. That may never change, Dean.)
And YOU … you made me a mom … changing my life forever when you were born on October 16, 1999.
I just can’t believe you’re 17 today, Dean.
I still remember your first words and your first steps … yes, they came in that order. You did it opposite of everyone else in the world. You could speak full sentences but opted to be carried through life just a little bit longer. (Personally, I thought it was a sign of brilliance.)
You were a great eater, but you were a terrible sleeper. (I guess some things never change.) You had a belly laugh that people couldn’t help themselves but join. Your favorite audience was your baby sister. You’d spend hours working to make her laugh. And inventing nonsensical nicknames for her. I honestly believe you tagged her with over a hundred of them. (Mrs. Baybo, to name only one.) Stay close to her, Dean. You mean more to her than words could ever say.
Your dedication to your studies, your family and friends, your pet and your need to just be a good person are humbling for your dad and me to watch as your parents. Somewhere along the line, we know we obviously did something right. Thank you for that, Dean.
Stay the course. You are poised for greatness in the world. Everyone around you seems to know that except you. As much as it truly pains me to watch you grow older and slowly distance yourself from your childhood, I relish the opportunity to watch you develop into the amazing adult I am certain you’ll be.
I know I drive you crazy sometimes. The feeling is mutual, my boy. That’s all part of growing up. For both of us. The important thing is that you know your dad and I are always and forever here for you. If you ever need anything at all … day or night … near or far … sane or insane, all you have to do is pick up the phone. Or whatever the communication method of the future will be. We’ll learn how to use it. For you and your sister.
I love you, Dean.
Happy 17th Birthday!!!
Past birthday posts about Dean:
A Letter to My Son on His 16th Birthday
15 Reasons I Love My Son (on his 15th Birthday)
Happy Birthday to the One Who Made Me a Mom
Thanks, NFL, for enlightening my son … but I’m taking some of the credit, too