I’m on the trip of a lifetime to Alaska with my family. Five kids. Ten days. Infinite excitement. While we’re away having grand, bloggable adventures, I’m sharing some special posts by guest writers.
On this, our first vacation day, I’m excited to lead off with a post from my dad. If you’ve been reading along for a while, you might know him by his pseudonym, The Old Marine. He didn’t write this for the blog, but he said I could use it here with you.
I love you, Dad. For lots of reasons, but especially at this moment for being more Mushy than Marine, for wearing your heart on your sleeve, and for loving your baby boy and girl easily more than you love your life.
by The Old Marine
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton
It’s happened twice now. Twice I’ve found myself in grateful tears because my son is alive. Silently weeping with gratitude knowing that what so easily could have come to pass did not.
It comes, I think, from knowing too much. A career that started in military aviation took me often to the edge of the abyss. Jungle flying and a major accident at my airline reinforced the knowledge that life can be fragile and unpredictable. I guess I’ve seen too many accidents, carried too many coffins and – as if my own experience weren’t enough – read too much history.
The first time was in September of 2003. I was home alone, working in the yard, when he called to tell me his dog was gone. A good dog in so many ways, but slightly psychotic, “Yeager” was showing signs of becoming a danger. And so, my 26 year old son did of his own volition what any wise, mature, considerate person would do – he had the animal put down. I listened through the whole story of their last hour together, of how difficult it was to watch, and about the hole that it left in his life. And when I hung up I found myself so grateful that I wept. At 26 – and born of a different age – my son could have been a Marine captain at Belleau Wood, or Iwo Jima, or Hue, or Fallujah. I was overcome with gratitude that by God’s grace he had been spared those horrors and that one of the toughest things he had faced was euthanizing a dog.
It happened again last Sunday. I got to sit in church and watch as my son, now 34, dedicated his daughter and his two sons to Christ. There he proudly stood with his beautiful wife confirming the path he has walked, and the path his children will follow. And again I wept. Because on that same day in Virginia Beach twenty two SEAL families had also been in church, not to celebrate but to mourn the loss of the heroes they loved. How easily I could have been in the other church.
Life is fragile. Life is unpredictable. Life is short. I get to spend my days with my daughter the Blogger and her husband the Baseball Star. I get to relish reading the peelarious stories about my five grandchildren in that family and their medical exploits. And should I ever tire of them I can be with my son – the Wise One – and his amazing wife, Earth Mom. And I can play with the three grandchildren they have given my high school-sweetheart wife and me, and be awed that the boys will carry my name into another generation.
Ask lots of folks how they are and you’ll most often get, “Fine” or “Okay” or – if they’re really perky – “Blessed.”
The tragedies that have befallen others could befall me tomorrow. But just for today ask me how I am and I’ll tell you, “I’m grateful.”
The Old Marine
P.S. My lovely sister-in-law, Kim, who knows I’m posting this – a letter that was originally a private message to our family – responded to my father thusly…
“Earth mother? Um, I shave. And bathe (usually). Not sure this is the appropriate term for me. Perhaps ‘domestic goddess extraordinaire,’ or ‘allergic response specialist’ or something like that?”
To which my father replied, “Hey. You got the ‘…his beautiful wife…’ line, so stop whining. Besides, you can fruits and veggies, knit and make your own greeting cards. Earth Mom… it’s a good thing.”
I love my family and our pithy banter. We, ladies and gentlemen, are crap givers. Every single one. Hehehe.