“You won’t believe where I found your son,” were words I heard at least once a week when Robin would call me at my office during our daily check-ins. The emphasis was always on “your.“
My Donald Jacob, our third-born, was an independent little guy from the start. I spotted something in him at birth. We had settled on two possible middle names; Aaron and Jacob. When the nurse put him into Robin’s arms asking what his name was, Robin looked at me, “What do you think?”
“He looks like a Jacob.”
Jacob, of Bible fame, was a strong-willed character who liked to control the outcome. He did some things that were less than admirable to get just what he wanted. But, after wrestling with an angel of God, saying, “I will not let you leave until you bless me,” Jacob grew to be a faithful, stubborn man of faith. God changed his name to Israel and built a nation through him.
We named both of our boys for their potential. Joshua Abram and Donald Jacob. Abram became Abraham, and Jacob became Israel with both as integral parts of God’s plan to redeem mankind.
Our Donald Jacob (Donald, for his grandfather) became our Jake, our charmer, entertainer, trickster, cuddler and adventurer.
“When I came out of the bathroom, he was sitting on top of the counter cutting a cake with one of the big knives out of the butcher block!” Robin’s voice usually had a twinge of relief and wonder when she would relay her “your son” stories. We would wonder if he would survive. His Sweeney Todd impersonation and counter-top climb was at about 18 months old.
At three years old our Jake would routinely look for the biggest, most intimidating kid on the playground, walk confidently up to him, stand face-to-chest and give him a firm shove. Then he would laugh. We were positive that he would get beat up eventually.Somehow, he never did.
There was the time I spotted him at the very top of the rusty jungle gym at the town park grinning from ear-to-ear. There was the time he decided to play hide-n-seek without telling anyone and ignored Robin’s desperate commands of, “Donald Jacob! You come here right now! You are scaring Mommy!”
Our Jake grew, like the Jake of the bible, testing every limit. Our other two children sat and did their schoolwork while Jake focused on ways to distract us with laughter. From the time he learned to read he devoured books unless we told him he had to read a book. Of course, he would read and do his work on his terms, being in control.
He is intensely independent yet incredibly sensitive and loving. We watched our little guy become a loyal friend to everyone. He never bought into the kids who thought they were cool and put on an act. Our Jake refused to act. He could easily hang out with the popular kids and be part of their crowd. But what impressed me most was they way he accepted the less popular kids, the ones who might get left out at school or not picked to play. Our Jake grew to be a very loyal and welcoming friend.
I have watched a few of his wrestling matches with God. I have seen him weep in the face of poverty. I watched him refuse to stop working mixing mortar and lugging bricks building a school for the deaf. I have seen God melt his heart. At 22 years old, his wrestling is far from over. I sense that my culinary school graduate still has hold of his angel and will not let him go. I have a feeling that my God has something planned for him where he, like the Jacob of Scripture, ends up feeding many, with food that lasts forever.
Today, I get to stand at the front of a church filled with family and friends, and watch his high school sweetheart walk forward in her beautiful white gown. I watched my son pursue her and refuse to give up when she showed little interest. His Laura is known by her friends as a quiet woman who knows what she wants; strong and independent.
I will see them exchange rings, speak vows and tie a knot out of three strands representing each of them and Jesus as the third. I will pray that that third strand comes to mean more and more to them each year.
And then, I will pronounce them husband and wife; Mr. and Mrs. Donald Jacob Linscott.
I will do my best to hold back my tears and keep it together. Today is another amazing bonus day that, apart from the miraculous healing hand of my God and the incredible sacrificial love of my family and friends, I would not be alive to share.
I am so very blessed. Today I will officiate the wedding of my third. I officiated my daughter’s wedding shortly after I learned I needed a liver transplant in 2011. In 2013, I officiated my oldest son’s wedding a year after he saved my life by giving me half of his liver. Now, today, I am beyond blessed to officiate my youngest son’s wedding. I am three for three.
Tonight, my gorgeous wife of 30 years and I will collapse into bed, exhausted, with hearts overflowing. We have been through so much … so very much.
What an amazing gift it is to be parents of our three wonderful children. What a wondrous thing it has been to see our prayers answered in each of their lives.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12