|A recent staring contest between the author (left) and young Jackson Fuchs, age 8. Winner uncertain.|
"Daddy?" Jackson said, the ellipsis hanging invisibly in the air between us.
"Will I look very different when I'm a grown-up?" He was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, and had just finished brushing his teeth before bed.
"You will," I answered definitively. "You'll certainly always recognize yourself, but you'll change, too. You'll get a lot hairier, for one thing."
He then ran to where I was waiting for him in the hallway and threw his arms around me.
"Oh, Daddy," he said, full of emotion. "I wish you could live forever."
I realized then, returning his embrace, that this was more a conversation about mortality than appearance. We have these little big chats every now and again. I've come to accept that when you've got a grandfather you've never met, you are going to have these questions. He must empathize with me on some level.
"I'll always be with you, son," I tell him.
"I know, Daddy. Right here," he says, touching his chest where he thinks his heart is. It's what we always say -- the classic Mufasa-Simba conversation.
But I can tell it's not the same. He'd like us to be together forever. I know that in a few years he'll feel differently, so I soak in this unabashed love.
As Jerry Seinfeld said in a recent stand-up routine, "Our children are here for one basic purpose: to replace us." All I can do is continue to shower these two people with all the love I can. In this way, I'll "replace" myself with two young people who know how important it is to be kind and to love, and to leave the world a better place for your having lived in it.