I'm doing this one in honor of my son, Jess David Rowe, who's known by several names in our family; Jess the Mess, Jessie, Bam Bam, and the one only he and I know of, "The Big Guy". Why? Because from the moment he was born, everything about him was BIG, not that he was overly large at birth, he just simply packed a lot of punch in that little body when I held him for the first time. I didn't call him that at first, it was only until he was older that this name sort of popped out of my mouth one day.
Jess was born November 6th, 1994, my second and last child. For awhile that day, we weren't sure if he would ever come out! Seems he liked the comfort of where he had been for nine months and eventually had to be "induced" to come and greet us in person. Once he arrived though, our lives were changed forever. Jess does things in a big way.
Rather than simply write an ode like I did recently for his sister, Christy, who turned 18 this past month, I'd like to tell you a little about Jess. But first, let me stress when I describe him as big, I'm not suggesting he's overweight, though there is no doubt he is a large man. He's simply, well, just BIG! His name has a rich family heritage. I like to tell people of how I came up with it, which, thanks to his mother, she allowed me to choose. His great-great-great grandfather was an immigrant from Berlin, Germany, whose name was George Rowe. George had a son named Gus, his great-great grandfather, whose given name was August Rowe. August (Gus) had a son named Jess, my son's great-grandfather and Jess had a son named Dave (my Dad), and my son's grandfather. George-Gus-Jess-Dave-Gus-Jess. I used to joke around with my son, telling him about this lineage and asked that if he ever had a son and thought of following this pattern, to not name him George! His middle name, David, was one of my Mom's brothers, David Bare, Jess' great-uncle. Everyone who knew David also knew he was a big man, roughly 6' 3" and well over 200 pounds. Everyone used to call him "Cub Bare" when he was young, because he was not only a "bear" of a man, but cuddly just like my son!
I remember when I found out I was going to have a son. I'd gone to the hospital to see the latest sonogram results when his mother was pregnant with him and found her crying. I asked, "What's the matter!?" I was late because of banking business and had come in on the tail-end of the exam. She said, "Congratulations Dad, you're going to have a son." I'll never forget that moment. My only son, and the only male left on the Rowe side of my family to carry on that name. But, that's another story, one yet to be written and will only be written by God's hands.
As I mentioned earlier, Jess does things in a big way. He was always moving, and not just physically but mentally as well. When he was just 2 or so, he had solved the riddle of the infamous "child gate" that I had installed leading to the stairs to the basement in our home in Tribune. His sister was already 4 and she STILL hadn't figured it out! I knew early on I had a very intelligent child on my hands. One day, as I was taking him to school for 1st grade, he asked me for a dollar to buy pencils. I knew he already had some so I said, "Do you think money grows on trees or something?" As we drove, he pointed to one and said, "Dad, see that tree?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Money's made out of paper, paper is made from trees, so yes, money grows on trees." I was speechless. Another time, I was picking him up from daycare when he was only 4 and I recall his sitter saying this; "With Jess, his mind is SO active and he's SO smart, you have to keep him busy." Later, I had another lady who watched him after school when he was in 2nd or 3rd grade and she'd had a particularly rough day with him. All she said was when I picked him up was "Jess has his own agenda." That's Jess. He had his mind made up before he was even born that HE was going to control the situation. After all, he didn't want to "come out" in the first place!
In 3rd grade, I recall going to pick him up one day after school. Some days I'd wait outside and other days, if I had time, I'd go straight to his classroom. As all these little 3rd grade boys were filing out the door with their little backpacks, chatting and laughing about their day, one turned to Jess just as I met him at the door and asked where he got the little toy ranger he had in his hands. I'll never forget what happened next. Jess turned to him, shook his finger up and down pointedly as if he was a teacher and said firmly, "You go to
www dot power rangers dot com!" A teacher's aide was standing there, Mrs. Gibson. She looked at me, I looked at her and just sighed. I knew for sure I'd never stay a step ahead of this boy!
When he was 6 or 7, during the fall, I was in the middle of harvesting grain sorghum and asked my kids if they'd like to take a ride on the combine with one of the local farmers I'd hired. They both climbed up the ladder and rode one round. When the combine stopped, the farmer opened the cab door, and Jess' sister climbed slowly down. It was a good 5 or 6 foot climb. Next was Jess. He just stood there at the top of the ladder platform, looked at me with that sheepish grin of his, and literally HURLED himself off the platform. Of course, he knew I'd catch him. The farmer looked down at me from high atop the combine and simply said, "You got your hands full with THAT one Gus!" That's Jess. He's a handful. He's big.
I could go on and on but I'm about to run out of time for now. However, I'd like to end this birthday tribute to my son with some observations about his heart. Like everything else about Jess; his physical stature, his mind, his heart is as big as the Kansas prairie where he was born. He's kind to animals and little children alike. I remember how my sister's cat, Kiwi, took to him so readily when he was here in California for a couple of days this past March. Kiwi is known as the "cuddle kitters" and Jess loved to have her in his lap, fondly stroking her fur. For several years, even now as a teenager, he has helped out at the youth center in Tribune, KS., a place where children and teenagers alike can come to play pool, video games, or whatever else they can do on weekends rather than roaming the streets. And his heart is reflected in his spirit, his soul, his intestinal fortitude. The man has a gargantuan-sized pain threshold, something I've always admired. And he's endured a lot of pain over the years, both physically and emotionally, the latter the result of some of my own actions, or the lack thereof.
With these God-given attributes, a sharp and intelligent mind and a gigantic heart and soul, I have no doubt Jess David Rowe is destined for BIG things in his life here on earth. So I say then to him on this day, the anniversary of his 16th year of life, "Happy Birthday Big Guy!" I love you and I'm so proud of you!