I can still remember the day you were born. I was so scared for you, and for me. Scared for you because you weren’t immediately healthy, and scared for me in that I had to learn how to keep you that way (healthy). I had to learn to be a mentor, something which I had no experience. I remember laying on the couch with you in my arms, wondering what you would become and what you would do. Would you take after me? Would I act in a way that was worth following? I was barely 22 myself, and my eyes weren’t yet open to the world yet.
I can still picture making “forts” in your room of blankets and chairs, and them building a bed for you to sleep in within the fort. I remember laying inside the fort with you (my lower body would stick out, only head and chest was inside), and with a flashlight, reading to you.
I remember coming home from work exhausted and you couldn’t wait to tell me about the new deck you had built with your pokemon cards, and how you were going to win at the league I always took you to on Friday nights after a 60+ hour work week. I always had to be up early and at work Saturday morning, but this was important to you and you so loved to go, so I made it important to me. I don’t think we missed a week.
I can remember punishing you, and then feeling guilty.. wondering if I was punishing you for being the person that I was teaching you to be or whether your actions were of your own creation. In hindsight, I think it was a little of both.
I can remember the many arguments we’ve had. We disagreed so vehemently and with such frequency, one might think we enjoyed it. I didn’t. I held my ground when we argued because I had to, because there was something valuable to be expressed/learned from the action.
We have certainly had our share of differences, but in the end you made a good choice and are following your dreams. I can’t ask for more than that.
When we found out you were going to be a father, I was terrified for you. You were younger than me, and I knew you weren’t ready. You have really “stepped up to the plate” and are doing a good job at being the best father you can be. I know the choice you’ve made was a hard one, but it is the best thing for your son. He’ll appreciate the decision and thank you for it someday. If it is necessary to be away from those you love in order to take care of them, that’s what you do, and you have.
We spent many years at odds, you and I, and I didn’t tell you as often as I should have. I do, very much, and I’m proud of who you’ve become. The world is your oyster my son. Give it all you’ve got, and you will reap the rewards.
Never quit, no matter what you’re doing. Make a decision and then stay the course. If you want to be the best soldier ever, don’t ever stop learning and trying, and you’ll get there. If you want to go to college, go, and work as hard as you can; little man is counting on you.
I’m honored that you’ve followed in my footsteps. I’m proud that you saw our career (mine and now yours) is worth doing… that it’s worth doing because it is honorable and people need someone to do it for them, because, for the most part, they can’t do it for themselves.
I love you buddy.