Farewell Note to Sam
29th March 2016
Our darling Sam. Our Godson.
I am writing this letter to you a few days before you leave on your four month exchange programme to Japan. I hope you read it on the plane or on your first night after you arrive. Perhaps you will keep this letter safe and if you feel homesick or need a hug or some words of comfort, you will read it. I want you to know we are thinking of you, right now. Right this very minute.
We were two of the first people (next to your Mum and Dad of course) to learn of your impending arrival in this world, and we were two of the first people you ever met (apart from the nursing staff). I recall holding you in my arms when you were just two days old, and with tears in my eyes, marvelling at your tiny self. We celebrated with a glass of champagne (something you have come to know well when your Mum and I get together!). We knew your future would be secure, that you would be loved and nurtured, educated and fed, travelled and blessed in every way - but still I asked myself the question, "What kind of man will this little baby become?"
You have remarkable parents, you know that - and they love you absolutely. There is nothing I could think of that they would not do to support you, they have ensured you truly have had "The Best of Everything". Really, the best of everything. Your New Zealand family are strong and loyal, connected and loving. Your Aussie Great Grandparents were remarkable, hard working and courageous people, and all these genes flow in you. Your Grandmother loves you in a way I have never seen her love anyone, not even her own daughter, your Mum. How amazing is all that? How lucky are YOU? And we, also luckily, were the ones chosen to be your Godparents.
Being your Godparent has been a rare gift. It has been our great pleasure to be witness to your growth, (even some of your first steps) with frequent visits and celebrations and most of our special days shared together, the happy ones and the sad ones. It has been our privilege to be involved in the intimate, sometimes daily conversations in each other's lives, from the very beginning. We have been honoured to closely observe your life, sometimes from the grandstand - and sometimes, on the court - with you, and it has always been a delight.
We have watched with pride how you have embraced every opportunity (mostly generated by your parents) which came your way. We have delighted in your curiosity, your desire to learn, your intelligence and your passion for things we do not understand (like astronomy and physics). We have cheered from the sidelines when you were happy to 'have a go' at pretty much everything on the sporting field, with varying degrees of success, and never letting a lack of skill deplete your enthusiasm. That's a winning quality. We have delighted in your musical abilities, and listened to you thump out basic chords for weeks which was hard on the ears, and transform that into a performance the audience appreciated and applauded loudly. We have watched you act, we have watched you sing, and we've watched you present to large audiences, competing with other talented people - and often win. And seeing you elected to Captain, and wear that badge at Primary School with such pride was a joy. Watching you deliver a speech, (speeches), and put yourself 'out there' at a tender age, astounded us. We have loved how you embraced Landmark's technology, and how you have used the work in your own life. We love the friendships you have and the loyalty you show to those you care about. It filled our hearts with joy to see the close and loving relationships you had with Granny Vera and Grampie Tom, dressing up and playing the mouth organ with him, and letting Gran love you up and eat her food with a passion. It made me weep with sorrow and with joy when you spoke at their funerals. I loved how you loved them, and I loved how they loved you. I have loved being your coach and watched you blitz your goals. Our chests have filled with pride seeing you sell hundreds of raffle tickets, win awards, donate money, take on projects, and generally challenge yourself to be a wiser, stronger, more compassionate human being. We were there when you had your first glass of champagne. (Now that was an unforgettable night!) And more recently, it has been our great gift to see you acquire your first job, and take on a great deal of responsibility. I shall never forget the day I walked into IGA and saw you packing shelves. You reminded me of our son Joshua, who packed shelves at Woolworths in Gordon for a while, and my heart expanded. That's a big step towards adulthood, right there.
So I think it's safe to assume we have an insight into the kind of man you will be when you are grown.
I want to tell you how proud we are of you, taking on this four month adventure - and also, KNOWING it's a four month challenge. I know you have concerns: that is natural, that is human being. I have concerns too, every time we travel, especially the times I do things alone, especially the times I intend to make a difference to the quality of life in the world. This is the place we learn the most, the times when we are 'up against it' - and discover some new strength in ourselves that we never knew was there. And then we learn a different way of being, and we are never the same again. There will be times when you will feel lonely and heartsore, and wish you had never gone to Japan. You may cry yourself to sleep quite a bit. But I suspect, knowing you, there will be many more times when you will thrill to all you are experiencing, and all you are learning, and all you are storing in your memory banks to bring back home to share with us. You are creating a new future for yourself, you are inventing a new Sam Hobson. Every day you have the opportunity to shape who you are in the world and who you will become as a man, a husband, a father, and a valued member of your community.
This is the first time you are away from home for more than two weeks, it's a Big Deal. Know that your parents would never be sending you (and paying the significant sums of money they are for the privilege) if they didn't believe in you, and know deep in their hearts that you will honour this decision. We believe in you too. We all trust you. We trust you to be the Best You Can Be. We trust that you will represent your family, your community, your school, and your country as a great Ambassador. We trust that those who meet you will say "Sam comes from a good family/community/school/country, Australia". Remember to be generous, grateful and gracious. (The Three G's). Pick up after yourself. Make your bed. Every day. Shower every day, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and be tidy in your dress. People have to live with you, make it easy for them. Offer to do the dishes. Better still, just do the dishes. Tell the truth. Never promise to do something you know you cannot deliver. Do your homework. Be in communication with people, especially about those things you would rather not be in communication about. Keep in regular communication with your parents. Be on time. Ask questions. Listen respectfully. Don't do anything illegal. Drugs and alcohol and sex are not a good idea - respect your body and keep it healthy.
This is Your Grand Adventure. There will be lots of challenges and exciting possibilities presented to you, things you haven't even thought of yet. Consider them carefully, and calculate your risk. If it's something that your family and community might say "DUMB IDEA!" - be smart Sam, DON'T DO IT. But if it's something that makes your heart beat fast, something you will learn and grow from, something that will powerfully alter your view of yourself and the world, and something we might say "YAY! GO FOR IT SAM!" - have a go. We are cheering from the sidelines, as always.
We are in Bali when you fly out of Sydney and won't be at the airport to farewell you. We will be thinking of you - and your Mom and Dad - as you say goodbye. Don't be ashamed to have a cry - I know your parents will be. Tears are a wonderful release for sadness and fear and uncertainty, and can be a great expression of love. Give yourself permission to weep. It's true, real men do cry.
Uncle Gerald and I love you very much. We are always here for you, no matter what, no matter when. If you need us for anything, at any time - know that we will always be here. Just ask. Never forget that.
This is Your Life, Sam darling, and as far as we know, we only have one. Life passes very quickly, you are already nearly sixteen years old and there are no dress rehearsals.
We send you off with this Irish Blessing:
MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO MEET YOU
MAY THE WIND BE ALWAYS AT YOUR BACK
MAY THE SUN SHINE UPON YOUR FACE
MAY THE RAINS FALL SOFT UPON YOUR FIELDS
AND UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN
MAY GOD HOLD YOU IN THE PALM OF HIS HAND.
We love you Sammy, and we will miss you. And we have a clear vision of the kind of man you are becoming, and we are very, very proud of you.
Love and hugs,
Aunty Sandra and Uncle Gerald and Cino xxx