Happy Belated Birthday

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Tuesday was my son’s birthday. Actually, the day caught me by surprise. I was on my way to work before I connected the dots in my head and realized that September 22 was not just another day in September. How many years has it been? Could he actually be forty-four years old?

He’s reached the time in his life that he has now been an adult three or four years longer than he’s been a kid. That doesn’t mean he has forfeited any of his playfulness. It just means that he views everything through the lenses of a responsible adult.

His first career track placed him in harms way more often than I like to think about. I guess that is second nature to serving in the United States Marine Corps. Creature comforts and peaceful surroundings don’t rank high on their list of deployment possibilities.

Craig would proudly say, “We are there to get a job done and we will succeed. He’d simply scarf-off the risks and assure me, “Dad, I’m doing what I’m trained to do. You don’t need to worry.” For him the war on terrorism was non-negotiable. Whether there were “ nuclear weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq or not, Craig was resolute in the importance of the United States being there. He strongly believed that Saddam Hussein was the epitome of evil. Craig served two deployments in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

Throughout his military career, Craig would say repeatedly, “I can’t believe they pay me to do this!” He really enjoyed what he was doing. When he was stateside, he was always stationed in areas where hunting and fishing were possibilities. Actually, I’m not sure that is totally true. Yuma, AZ may have been an exception. At least, he had his Harley to ride and the opportunity to let the wind blow through his hair when he was in Arizona.

Actually, I mentioned earlier that Craig views everything through the lenses of a responsible adult. Craig wouldn’t have considered riding his Harley without a helmet. Isn’t that what a responsible adult would do? As far as the wind blowing through his hair, Craig had the potential for having hair during the time he had the Harley. He simply kept it cut so short that no one noticed that he even had hair.

He was always responsible as a kid. In fact, when he was in College I opted to trade cars with him. He was driving a four-door Chevrolet that had belonged to my grandfather. I was driving a Mitsubishi Starion-turbo. Reportedly, it would go 160 mph. Of course, I never got within 29 miles of that speed, but I knew firsthand that it was really fast. After a couple of speeding tickets, I decided that I’d let Craig drive my car and I’d take the one that had belonged to Granddad. I never considered that Craig would ever be tempted to drive fast. Despite the fact that he plays with guns, has an arsenal in his home and loads bullets for a hobby, he is always careful. I guess he is like his mother in that regard. Actually, that could be misleading. The General is careful, but she doesn’t play with guns. Good thing for me. I can almost hear her saying, “But officer, it was an accident. I didn’t mean to pull the trigger. The gun just went off and fired an entire round.”

Craig took delight in his military service and he took delight in the people with whom he served. He and Becky both have the gift of hospitality and as long as I can remember, there home has always been a hub of activity. They perpetually host others in their home on a regular basis. In fact, they could even make watching an Aggie football game on television seem like a special occasion. Maybe football is a game where the ambience is better if others surround you. All I know is that they don’t watch a game in isolation. It is a group activity and it is always associated with food.

Craig is forty-four; has been since Tuesday. Some might call that middle age. Yet he has always been responsible and he has always been family focused. Nothing is of a higher priority to him than his kids. He is an incredible dad. I’m sure it is only coincidental that they, too, enjoy hunting and fishing. How many times have I had the thought, “What kind of red neck grandchildren do I have?” Precious kids!

Craig left his first career track for a second that seemingly offers him as much satisfaction as the first. Actually, he may like the second career track better. Yet, the very thought could be projection on my part. The closest thing to harm’s way that Craig experiences on a regular basis is Houston traffic. But, like I said, “Craig doesn’t speed”. He drives by the book, wouldn’t consider looking at a text message while he is behind the wheel and is always a courteous driver. At times, I think he needs to loosen up a little. He is very much like the General in that regard. However, I’ve got to hand it to him, it seemingly always serves one best to play by the game book.

This week Craig observed his birthday. Next week he and Becky look forward to the pouring of the foundation for construction of their new home. They have waited a long time to be homeowners. With one exception, their permanent housing has always been base housing. Consequently, they are doing it right this time. They will have ample space and more to entertain, fill their home with family and friends and have a sense of permanency they did not experience in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The entire family has almost effortlessly made the transition to civilian life. They are immersed in an environment of extended family, places to hunt and fish, a church they really enjoy and sport team opportunities for all their children. They really are living the good life. I couldn’t be more pleased that they are Texans at last.

All My Best!

Don

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