Category Archives: Emotional

Commander John…

Royal Ranger Outpost 207,.. atten-tion.

Ready.

The Royal Ranger motto.

Ready. A Royal Ranger is ready to work, play, serve, obey, worship, live, etc.

The Royal Rangers, a Boy Scout-like organization within the Assemblies of God, was where I first remember meeting Senior Commander John Baker, Sr.

Commander John was twice as wide but barely taller than the boys he commanded, he wore a pencil-thin mustache I have never seen him without, he spoke in a thick New York “fuggedaboutit” accent, he addressed every boy in his program as son unless he really liked you, then you were promoted to knucklehead, he demanded respect but made sure he gave more than he ever got, and most of all, he was a man who believed in me when I needed it most.

In 1986, I had just started going to church and for the life of me, I can’t remember why I went to that first Wednesday night meeting. It’s possible that I might have been looking for something to do on a night when the youth program wasn’t doing anything. Or I was bored. I got bored a lot in those days. But, what I do remember is at 16, I was the oldest kid in the room by at least two years and that they didn’t have a program in our church for someone my age. Commander John walked over to me, looked up at me, and in that foreign language that was his accent said, “Son, come join my group tonight.”

Over the course of the next few months, I kept showing up and Commander John kept pouring into me. He was ready to start a Trail Ranger program with me as the only person, he had his mind set toward having me earn my Gold Medal Achievement (the Ranger equivalent to the Eagle Scout), and had designs to make me Ranger of the Year for our section. Within six months, he made me a junior commander and I started helping out the other Commanders with their groups.

While I never got my GMA nor made Ranger of the Year, those years in the Royal Rangers have become an integral part of who I am as a man. Commander John became a role model, exhibiting the character traits that he taught. He was the Ranger Code in the flesh.

I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, well, I am the man I am today in part because of the man that he was. He reached out to a kid, took him in, mentored him, and gave him a purpose that grounded me when I was in a very difficult and challenging part of my life.

He was ready.

And if I’m being honest, I’m trying to come to grips with that motto right now. Today, they are laying Commander John to rest, and tonight I’m going to be going to his memorial service to say a final goodbye to him. I’m supposed to be ready. Ready to work, play, serve, obey, worship, live, etc… I’d love to tell you that I’m ready… ready to say goodbye to such a great man. In truth, I’m not.

Oddly, it’s in those moments when I don’t think I am that I can just hear him saying, “Son, you got this,” except it comes out sounding like “Hey, oh! Knucklehead, fuggedaboutit!”

Part of me knows he’s right. Part of me hopes he’s right.

Either way, thank you, Commander John, for the man you were and always will be to me.

Ready… too.

 

My Sharpest Memory…

My sharpest memory is of the day I stopped being my daughter’s hero. I thought for sure I could wait until she was at least thirteen before that title would be stripped away. But at eighteen months old, I was becoming the monster that would fuel her nightmares for years to come.

An hour before, I was happily at work, going about my day. Then the panicked phone call, the drive home, and the drive to the hospital.

Now, her body wrapped up like a cocoon in a blanket to keep her arms down around her sides, I was the one who was forced to hold her down while the doctor and a nurse worked on putting stitches into her forehead. All she could do was look up at me with her big green eyes and plead with every ounce of energy she could, “Daddy, daddy, daddy…”

This is the part you never hear about while growing up. It’s one thing when they deserve correction. But no one prepares you for when you have to be the ‘bad guy’ for all the right reasons.

Truth be told, I’m not sure who suffers the nightmares of that moment more. Because the entire time, she stared into my eyes. The entire time she tried to get her arms loose and have me make it all go away. The entire time she wanted me to hug her. And because I couldn’t, the entire time, my heart broke just a bit more.

Yesterday…

I know I have been an absentee blogger as of recent. Summer semester has me a bit tied down (and not in the good way) with a lot of writing and reading, and the subject matter leaves me pretty drained (who knew Pop Culture and Literature would be so heavily Marxist...ugh... ) so I really don't feel like writing for myself let alone play video games (yeah, that part right there is the real test...)

Yesterday.

June 10th, 2016.

Yesterday marked two anniversaries. One that I am shocked has come and gone and the other that I am just shocked.

Yesterday. Continue reading Yesterday…

Last Moments…

 

The nurse looked at me as I sat on the side of the bed, her eyes compassionate. “Do you want to take off the necklace, or would you like me to?”

Her voice registered in my ears, but it took a few moments for the words to sink in.

I stared at my younger brother’s body, lifeless and gray. It had been less than five minutes since they pronounced him, and still, I had not quite wrapped my brain around the fact that he was gone, even though the proof lay right in front of me. Continue reading Last Moments…

Monday Mo(u)rning…

The last few weeks (read months), I have had my nose stuck in my college homework and have slacked on updating my blog. Acceptable excuse for sure. However, I have had to walk away from several of the challenges that I use to participate in on a regular basis due to my limited amount of time.

Basically, if it wasn’t a haiku, I pretty much haven’t. Continue reading Monday Mo(u)rning…