Has there ever been a thing you wanted to do that was really difficult and not everyone that tried could finish? It’s always nice to be rewarded but even if no one but you knew you accomplished your goal? We do this almost every day in various ways that tax our own abilities. What were some of your most difficult successes? Did you ever want to build something or to tear something down?
I have done a few things that I’m particularly proud of and some that didn’t end up the way I wanted. Ranger School in the Army was the hardest physical thing I ever did. You don’t get any regular sleep time and when you do lay down the Ranger Instructors usually give you just about enough time to close your eyes and they come running through the barracks yelling to get up and put on your pack. We were going on a five mile run with full packs. But at the end you get this cool little tab that you wear on your sleeve that is immediately recognized by every soldier with which you will ever serve. Those who have been there will know.
Scuba school was tough but it consisted mostly of running and swimming. There were classroom classes to be sure. You had to understand explosives and how deep you can dive and for how long you could stay under water. It was held in Key West, Fla., in the summer. We had to get up at 3 a.m. in order to do our swims and exercise before the heat of the day.
Probably the hardest day was when they put the air tanks on you and sent you to the bottom of a 12-foot pool. Then they come and try to get you to the surface. They pull out your face mask, turn off your air. Pull the hoses out of your mouth and just generally try all sorts of dirty things to get you to go to the surface. If you do you are released from the school and sent back to Fort Bragg. When you finished that school only you and your classmates knew how hard it was. There was no little tab for that.
There are lots of schools like that in the Army. Hard as heck to do but the only person who knows that is one who has finished the school. Officers Candidate School was six months of humiliation, degradation, inspections, classes on leadership and weapons that you had to pass and running everywhere you went. That was probably the best school because I doubled my base pay and my jump pay in those six months. Just about every decision that I make today and since that school rely on some lesson I was taught there.
Most schools that demand respect from your fellow soldiers are very hard. The staff really wants you to finish but they will try to get you to quit. They do not endorse quitters. You have to have a real desire to finish because they want no one to think it was easy.
The single hardest thing I have ever done was not in the Army. It was after I had finished my career in the Army and met someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I had children. If you have children you must know it is the hardest job you will ever have and you will not know if you have passed for many years. After children you never get over it. They are your focus for the rest of your life. Even if you and your spouse go out for a romantic dinner to remind yourself that you are your own person all you can talk about is your kids.
When I think back at all the heartbreak I must have caused my mom and dad. I don’t know why they didn’t just put all us boys in a sack and dump us in the river. I pray every day for their forgiveness and I think, maybe, just maybe, because my mom was so close to her God that I am forgiven.
All of her sons are comforted by the fact that she is watching us every day. Laughing when she sees how we handle stress and disappointment. I know we disappointed her many times but we never doubted her love for us. She and my Dad were disappointed lots of times while we were all growing up. That was something I’ll never forget.
How my Mom would laugh — at her troubles (of which there were many) and her pleasures (I don’t remember many of those). I know that My Angel and I laugh a lot (it beats crying) at the actions of our kids as they grew up.
I tell you all this because today is Father’s Day. I don’t know what genius thought up this day but I will mention that I didn’t even get into the living room today without tears flowing. My children all had done some really cool thing for me that they certainly didn’t have to do but since they are all working they actually spent money on me. That was a strange feeling.
I have a lot of toys. Of course if you live long enough you should have some toys but my kids are the real reason I get up in the morning. When they say, Daddy, they can get away with anything. (It works the same way for my bride when they say mommy.)
Although I’m writing this on Father’s Day I always feel this way and they chose this day to really make me feel like a father. I am so proud of the way they turned out. I don’t go to church as often as I should but I do pray every day that they will have a good life and that they will have some children that love them as much as they showed me their love today. I hope your Father’s Day was filled with love and laughter. God Bless.