Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nifonged in NIcaragua: Note From Father of Eric Volz

FATHER'S DAY - JUNE 17, 2007

A note from Jan, Eric's father.

Father's Day for me has become a day for Eric and his sister. Historically, it has been a day when children honor fathers, but in my present state and emotional economy, Father's Day is the day I, as a father, want to honor my children.

Eric carries my father's name, Stanley, as his middle name and my middle name is his first. It is in Eric that I find my greatest pride.

My daughter's middle name is 'Joy' and it has been befitting since the day she was born. She has been the joy of my life from the moment the doctor allowed me to help with her delivery, and I held her in my arms. She is my greatest Joy.

As the events of this year continue to unfold, I see Father's Day differently. In many ways the last 200+ days have been Eric's days. As I wake each morning and thank God for sparing his life another day and pray for Eric's continued safety and freedom, the days have been about justice and freedom for him. Last year, on Father's Day, I was in San Juan del Sur spending it with Eric. That was the first time I met Doris, the lovely young lady whose loss has changed the world for all of us.

I am blessed to have had many fond memories of times with my father. I remember when I was a kid, bumping along the dusty roads of Northern California, learning to drive in his old pickup truck. When I was 8 he taught me how to drive on those old back roads. I remember doing some of the same with both Eric and his sister. When Eric was very young I would sit him on my lap in my old Nissan pickup and let him shift the gears as I depressed the clutch and taught him to steer the car down some of the back roads of Tennessee. Hopefully, his memory of those times is as pleasant as mine.

As Eric faces the possibility of spending 30 years in prison, I'm certain he is wondering if he'll ever be a father. It breaks my heart for him, considering the joy he brought to me when he was a little guy, the pride he brings to me as a young man, and the strength he shares with all of us as a man facing some of the hardest days a human being could imagine. He continues to endure and embrace this test with continued grace and humility. I admire him more than I will ever be able to express.

My prayer is that as we seek his freedom and as the success of that battle finds him back home one day, I will be able to play with Eric's children and celebrate Father's Day with him as his children run and jump into his loving arms. Eric will be the best; he's always had such a tender spirit toward little ones. He has a special place in his heart for children; his own children will be the luckiest of all.

My dad's love and dedication toward me was solid as a rock. My dad provided me with life's greatest gift: unconditional love. And he made sure I knew how much he loved me as he displayed it in action and deed. I hope and pray that Eric will again experience those sentiments from me when we reunite in freedom.

Recently, we posted a piece written by Eric regarding his hope for a brotherhood among people of all nationalities and creeds, a "one-world" view where he expressed with idealism the hope that people everywhere would begin to recognize the fact that we are all alike in so many ways. For years now I have heard him express his desire to bridge the gap and bring people together. Eric has always been a bridge builder, a peacemaker.

As a father I find Eric's ideals refreshing and exhilarating to my soul. Without ideals we'd never be able to change the world. I only hope he has the chance. Eric currently is spending periods of time in deep thought and inner soul examination. That search, when coupled with his connection to others, will make him a much stronger bridge builder than he ever was before.

For me, Eric's incarceration has made clearer, some of the differences we citizens of this one planet must learn to overcome. I find myself continuously thankful that I live here and have been blessed by the ideals (albeit imperfect), which abound here. Bridging any divide is never without struggle and Eric's initial entrance into this world was no less difficult.

I remember holding Eric moments after he was delivered. He was born with some difficulty and he wasn't breathing properly. The doctors in the delivery room were quite worried and quickly called in a specialist. For a short while I thought we were going to lose Eric. I remember silently praying for him, asking God to spare his life.

Here I am 28 years later asking God the same thing, praying the same prayer. I know that the breath of life is but a vapor and only the loving hand of God sustains it. Now that Eric has grown into a fine man of whom I am so proud, I am still humbled by the thought that the only thing between this moment and eternity is life...the frailest thing in the world.

May we fathers, and those who are yet to be, daily live our lives with unconditional love for each of you: our sons, daughters, wives, sisters, and brothers. Happy Father's Day...

Jan Eric Volz

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