I am a
recently divorced dad with a fourteen-year-old son. As
with most dads in my position, I don’t see my son as
often as I’d like to. My father died when I was young
and I have few memories of him. As a result, my
relationship with my son is the most important thing to
me; however, with teenagers being what they are, I don’t
always know what’s going on inside my son’s
When Alex was about five years old, we
lived briefly in California. His mother was in the Air
Force, and this was her first assignment. I worked a
couple of part-time jobs and, as a result, had some time
off during the week. I often took him to a park we
dubbed the “Dragon Park” because there was a concrete
dragon character at the entrance.
to the dragon (which all the kids played on), the
park had a vast playground area with lots of playground
equipment to climb on, through, around, and more. Alex
always looked forward to going to the park and hated
when it was time to leave.
These days, I see my
son twice during the week and then on the weekend. One
weekend, he told me about a project he had in his
English class. He was to write about a place or time in
his life that was important to him and how he felt
about it. The feeling could be positive or
“So what did you decide to write
about?” I asked.
“I wanted to write about
the Dragon Park, Dad,” was his reply.
thought he would’ve chosen someplace that we had
traveled to, like Japan or Hawaii, and asked
him why he chose the Dragon Park.
were the times when I felt the closest to you,” he
answered. It was all I could do to hold back the tears
until after I got back to my apartment.
got home, I went through the boxes of photos that I had
taken of him over the years. I came across one of him
with a big smile on his face sitting on that dragon. I
took it to a photo shop, had it enlarged, and
bought a frame for it.
Thursday, I went to see him. As he opened the door, I
handed him a wrapped package.
“What’s this?” he
“Go ahead and open it,” I said.
He ripped off the paper and held the framed
picture in his hand. He looked up at me without saying
“Those were some of my favorite times
together, too, son.” At that point, he wrapped his
arms around me and gave me a big bear hug.
everything involved with being an adolescent,
going to Dragon Park with me was the memory he drew upon
for his assignment. I used to worry about what memories
he’d have of me after I’m gone, but not any
(c) 2007 from
Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul