"You have a son", those were the first words the Doctor said to me after my wife gave birth to our second child. "You have a son", my, what awesome words. As my wife held him and I looked on the joy of a son began to take form. Our first child was a beautiful girl. A son, baseball, Boy Scouts, fishing, cars, girls, oops! All the things a macho guy can think of to do with his son.
Then it was my turn to hold "my son". This tiny little child, so helpless and totally dependent on.....ME! Oh my.......dependent on me. At this time my wife had put her career on hold and was going to be a stay at home wife. That made this 6 plus pound skinny child my responsibility. He was so long and skinny I nicknamed him Mr. Bones, much to the chagrin of my wife. And so it began the thought process of what I was going to do for this child that G-d had given us. As time went by I did my loyal best, sometimes not good enough, sometimes too good if that is possible, and on occasion I hit it just right. Church was one of the just right.
Mr. Bones grew and had a normal childhood going to pre-school, primary, and high school. He developed fierce sense of loyalty to his friends and little sister as he called her. He grew to 5'9" while she topped 5"4" on a stretch. He was sent to the Principals office in the third grade for hitting another child who kept picking on his best friend and waited one day after the school bus had pulled away to take on another student who was calling his "little sister" names. It is a fine line between standing up for a cause and allowing an injustice to continue. We made it through high school with only a couple minor scraps with the local law enforcement officials. Always it appeared his sense of loyalty was the culprit.
After graduation from high school he moved out began a time of when he called I would ask first, does this require a Doctor or an Attorney. It was a very difficult time for my wife, my son, and me. But somehow we made it because G-d has a plan for everyone. I just failed to understand that at this time. After a while we got back on the right road and had wonderful conversations. One such conversation was what was on the other side of the farthest star in the Universe another was the standing joke, Does rattlesnake really taste like chicken or does chicken taste like rattlesnake? We became like a couple of buddies but always father and son. And then...9/11.
A young man named Chris Tillman, a professional football player was killed in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban. He had joined the Army after giving up a pro football career. My son asked me why? I could only answer he felt it was something he had to do. My son would occasionally inquire about my military service during the 60's and that of my father's a WWII veteran and my grandfather a World War I veteran. I would answer the questions but failed to see the underlying motive. Then the day came. At his apartment without his wife there he said, "Dad, I joined the Army today. I took the oath" Awesome responsibility. Why I asked. His reply was simple and loyalty shone through again. "Because if I don't go, who will?"
It's been one year to the day since my son left for Iraq and his loyalty to his family, friends, the Army, his county and his G-d continues. I cannot say enough good about him and the awesome responsibility he has taken on and cannot say enough good things about him nor how proud of him I am. Although he will always be my "son" he has grown to be my best friend and brother in arms.
G-d speed Jacob, be safe and come home soon.
The Shepherd of Hermas - Book I, Vision 3, Chapter 1 - abide as you now do in your simplicity, and you will sit with them, and with all who do their deeds and bear what they have borne.
2 days ago