Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Mellow Box

Sorting thru my mellow box on this Fathers Day.

Some favorites.

Seeing the miracle of birth of five children.

Attending the creation of five children. Especially Zac. There was time pressure involved. For employee benefits to cover him, he had to be conceived by a certain deadline. It was a particularly busy period of life with three kids under five and a busy job. I'm reasonably sure the night that boy was made was the night I put my foot down and said no. I was just too tired. After alot of cajoling, I said, "OK, but I'm not even going to kiss you."

Pete at 5 gazing out the window at the swimming pool. "Dad, when are you going to drain the pool?" "Why do we need to drain the pool?" "Because that whale we adopted on PBS needs to be in salt water."

Watching Ali set a record for three point shots made in one game at Ursuline. And having her hand me my head in H-O-R-S-E in the driveway.

Sarah at age two coming downstairs one winter morning. "Honey, your little feet are going to get cold. You need your houseshoes." Exact quote and a sign of things to come, "I can't find my fuckin' houseshoes."

Calling home from a business trip and asking Zac at 6 how his day was. "It was a great day, dad." "Really, did you learn something new at school?" "No, they put up a brand new big slide and you can go down it really fast headfirst."

Reading Where the Wild Things Are to Georgia at age three. "Daddy, you skipped a page." "Honey, I have read this book ten thousand times. I did not skip a page." She calmly licks her fingers and separates the pages to show me my error. Exact quote and a sign of things to come, "Now tell me I'm right."

Being a bonus dad to Chris. Zac's best friend in high school. His dad moved to a town nearby, but Chris wanted to finish at Celina. Got to be his legal guardian and have him live with us for a year.

Having breakfast at the local cafe with Georgia and having her become buddies with the farmers and ranchers at the Liars Table.

Having breakfast at the local cafe with Sadie and my two grandsons and watching the tradition continue.

Playing golf in Oregon when my cell phone rings. My buddy answers the phone and says, "Hello, Ali. Your dad is about to hit a shot." She proceeds to rip him a new one and says, "I don't care if my dad is about to win the U.S. Open. Put him on the phone. Now." Pete and Ali were interning in New York. On Pete's last day of work, his co-workers took him out for a celebration. He was now passed out cold, face first in a pile of yuk in their apartment on Central Park West. And Ali wanted to know just exactly what I was going to do about it.

Seeing my dad pin Pete's lieutenant bars on him at the commissioning service at Ft. Benning.

Watching Pete propose to Missy in the snow at the Dallas Arboretum.

Georgia telling me that she was quitting school after first grade. "Well, I can count to 100 by ten. What else is there?" "Peanut, I know grown men who can't do that. I think you have a point."

Rex Glendenning betting me his $100 to my $50 that Zac was going to catch his first touchdown pass. And then seeing it happen. And then happily paying the bet.

Packing soldier care packages together.

My kids presenting Missy with a ring at Christmas to let her know that she was officially a part of our family.

Landing in Seattle and finding 14 voicemails on my phone. Seven from Sarah. Seven from Ursuline. Seems there had been a little misunderstanding. Sarah and her buddies had decided it would be fun to skip out of school. Ursuline thought they had been kidnapped and had locked down the campus.

Having Big Papa's secret recipe for pig sauce to share with the world.

And Papa John's Irish writing bug to record this for my knuckleheads.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Honor and Remember

Sgt. Zachary J. Walters, 2nd BN, 6th Marines (78th), 2nd Marine Division, passed away Tuesday, June 8, 2010 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

He was leading a group of Marines and Afghan soldiers when he was struck by an IED.

The Patriot Guard was there for his arrival on Thursday at Love Field.

When the plane door opens and you first see that flag draped coffin, it is one of the toughest moments for the family of the fallen soldier.

SGT Walters came home in a small flag draped container. He had been cremated.

It took my breath away as it did for the PGR who have witnessed too many of these homecomings.

The family will not get to say goodbye face to face. They won't get to touch him one last time.

SGT Walters was on his second deployment. He didn't have to go. He wanted to go to lead his men. He was a Marine thru and thru.

He was born May 24, 1986. He was preceded in death by his uncle Christopher Scott Walters. He is survived by his parents Kelly J. Walters of Irving, and Regina M. Walters of Decatur; grandparents Joe and Bobbie Walters of Irving; grandmother Lore Miner of Decatur; brother Dwayne Patrick Adair of Decatur; aunts and uncles Norma and Harvey Merritt of Alvarado, Nell and Al Berry of Mesquite, Ramona and Tony McCollough of Peculiar, Missouri, Rebecca and Mark Ireland of Alvord, Texas, and Tom and Ann Miner of Decatur; and numerous cousins.

He also leaves behind his fiance Vickie L. Falcon of Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Memorial services were at 1:00.PM. Friday, June 18, 2010 at Brown's Memorial Chapel in Irving, Texas. Interment services with Full Military Honors followed at 3 PM at DFW National Cemetery.

His family requests donations to Wounded Warriors, PMB 48, Western Blvd., Suite E, Jacksonville, NC 28546 or

Thank you for your leadership, service and sacrifice SGT Zachary Walters.

You will never be forgotten.

Godspeed to Zachary's family and fiancee. Our family has lived this movie. If we can be of help or support, we are here for you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Clown Prince of Afghanistan

Last May, I posted this entry

How wise he was. How prescient.

He never once mentioned Hamid Karzai as being the solution.

As I listen now to what he was saying, it was about the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Not the "leaders".

In the past few days, we've heard from President Karzai.

He's like a Kennedy or a Bush. His family has been in power and politics in Afghanistan forever.

Two senior Afghan officials were showing President Hamid Karzai the evidence of a spectacular rocket attack on a nationwide peace conference earlier this month when Mr. Karzai told them that he believed the Taliban were not responsible.

“The president did not show any interest in the evidence — none — he treated it like a piece of dirt,” said Amrullah Saleh, then the director of the Afghan intelligence service.

Mr. Saleh declined to discuss Mr. Karzai’s reasoning in more detail. But a prominent Afghan with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Karzai suggested in the meeting that it might have been the Americans who carried it out.

Mr. Saleh immediately resigned as head of intelligence. As did the interior minister, Hanif Atmar.

Hmmmm. Wonder who's zooming who.

Corruption in Afghanistan, lying in Afghanistan, manipulating in Afghanistan is like Louisiana politics on crack-powered steroids.

It's what they do. And how they survive.

Which makes it so hard to believe anybody.

And a week ago, President Karzai says he doubts the NATO forces can defeat the Taliban.

Hmmmm. Who are you rooting for, Hamid?

During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Karzai was a supporter of the Taliban. He knows those folks well. They were fighting his war for him.

Then when the Taliban decided to take over the country, he became their enemy.

Recently, he's been sidling up to them again.

And wow, it's just been discovered that there is $1 trillion in minerals in the ground in Afghanistan.

Guess who controls that ground?

Nope, not Hamid.

His buds in the Taliban do.

And so, ole Hamid is dancing the dance. He needs the West (read the United States) to keep him alive whilst the Taliban try to kill him whilst he tries to cut a deal with them.

And in the meantime, Pakistan believes these lands belong to them. Which is why they have supported the Taliban. And now they see booty.

Wonder what the old Soviet Generals are thinking. Wonder what Putin is thinking.

Probably not focused on the health and well-being of U.S. and NATO soldiers.

Probably wishing they had done a better job years ago. So this trillion dollar find would be theirs.

The only reason for the U.S. to be in Afghanistan is to prevent terrorist acts against the U.S.

We are not at war with Afghanistan. Just as we were never at war with Iraq.

Maybe its time we change our thought pattern.

There will always be terrorists.

The job of the United States government is to protect its citizens.

Perhaps we should focus more on protecting our borders and dealing with those terrorists already here and those trying to enter.

Let those barbarians fight over that ground in Pashtun.

Including that slickster with the shaved head, clipped beard, fancy suits and funny hat.

Mr. Karzai, think it's time you and Mullah Omar figure it out on your own.

In the meantime, we'll be fortifying against your type.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

For the Faith of a Mother

"Then Jesus answered and said unto her, 0 woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour." —Matthew 15:28.

Not that God doesn't hear fathers, but there is just something special about a mother's faith and a mother's love.

Last July, I wrote about Bryce Saldi. He suffered a serious head injury and has been in the hospital and rehab since.

His sweet mama has been by his side virtually every day for 11 months. His dad, his brothers, his aunts, his girlfriend have been there as well. But Bre has been the rock.

First for two months in California where he was injured. Then an air ambulance ride to Dallas. And nine months of daily visits, back rubs, feeding, foot massages, therapy sessions. Sleepless nights. Stressful days. Her business put on hold.

She is a woman of faith. This ordeal has tested it.

I was in Los Angeles last summer when the accident happened and drove to Loma Linda several times to visit.

We had a long talk about life, faith, curveballs, hope, despair, losing a child, how to get thru the valley of the shadow of death.

This happy news from her blog today.

"A few days ago Bryce had a big surprise for me. He said his first word, "Mom". It was the loveliest word that I have ever heard. I went and hugged him and he repeated it over and over in my ear."

Our neighbors have a daughter who was born with a serious heart defect. But to look at her today, you would never know it.

She's a cheerleader. A model. A happy, beautiful child.

Her parents deal with the daily fear that normal life can turn bad in an instant.

Her mom has made sure that every day of Mackinlee's life has been a blessing and that not one is taken for granted.

Yesterday, she went in for her routine annual checkup.

Her mom Susie's post today.

"Dear God, yesterday you left me on pins and needles and sick to my stomach waiting on news that an echo tech implied might be bad only to later have the doctor deliver the most amazing news that he can't even explain except for Divine Intervention! Thank you for reminding me of your mercy and power and to never take anything for granted. Thank you for prayers answered!"

Thank you, moms. Bless you Bre and Susie.

Godspeed Bryce and Mackinlee.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An upcoming memorial day

A good friend of my youngest son came by for a Memorial Day visit.

They graduated together from Celina High School.

He was voted best looking his senior year. If I'd had a vote, he would have had mine too.

In fact, if he would shave his legs, I would ask him out right now.

This young stud is now in the U.S. Army.

He knew Pete. He will be deploying to Afghanistan in a month.

He is responsible for a group of Apache helicopters.

As a memento, he brought me a dummy round from the 30MM cannon on his birds.

The pen might be mightier than the sword, but I don't know if it stacks up against this weaponry.

The Apache can fire these babies off at a rate of 625 rounds per minute.

That sort of thing can ruin Omar's day.

And here's hoping it does. Soon. And often.

Hey you Talibs. Don't know when your next memorial day observance is. But buckle up.

When you aren't too busy raping or selling a 13 year old girl, or burning books, or making drug deals, or destroying centuries old carvings as Allah tells you to do, come on out and greet your American visitors.

Josh and his buds will be looking for your sorry asses.