Sunday, November 14, 2010

Some of My Boys

“I want to be a marine,” said my son after this year’s Veteran’s Day Assembly hosted by our high school. He looked me in the eye when he said it. He’s been looking me in the eye a lot lately, since he is officially taller than me.

Christopher always had an interest in soldiers and military history. I remember he read a story out of the American Diary series about a soldier and his time in war. Christopher cried when the main character buddy died. He shows me videos that various performers have done in support of our troops (Letters from War; Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue; and American Soldier are just a few). He and I have watched Band of Brothers, Windtalkers, and Flags of Our Fathers. But more than all that, he sees heroes in the kids from our school who enlist and serve. So, after seeing the presentation of faces of former students who have served and who are serving, I found his statement not surprising.

Before I could respond, he said, “I know. I have to go through college and ROTC so I start as an officer.” I laugh. We have had a few family discussions on this topic too. From one of those conversations last spring, I wrote this poem.

      Some of My Boys

Goofy, gangly and grinning,
some of my boys that sat in my classes
have not only enlisted,
but have been sent overseas
into the war, into harm’s way.

I see them on leave
or on a digital picture
grinning, maybe gangly still,
but goofy no more
due to the war, due to harm’s way.

“Hey, Mr. Sura,” they say,
“remember when..”
“…and you smiled and said...”
We were a brotherhood of goofy and grinning
before the war, before harm’s way.

My son reads and watches
about soldiers, brotherhood, honor and death
while he is goofy, gangly and grinning in life.
He has heroes, the boys I know,
in the war, in harm’s way.

He makes me proud that he cares.
He respects their call and their risk
while he and his high school buds
stumble around goofy and grinning,
away from war, away from harm.

And my goofy, gangly, grinning boys
stand watch afar and keep my son safe.
They say, “We got him covered, Mr. Sura.
“Your wife and daughter too.
For them, no war, nor harm’s way.”

All I am left to say is
“Love you guys,”
in my goofy, gangly, grinning way.
“Come home safe
from the war, from harm’s way.”

“I want to be a marine,” he said. I think of the faces that had flash on the screen. I know a lot of them, and I know more each year. I am proud of each every one of the men and women on that screen. Two of the faces are in memoriam.

I think of my son’s face on that screen.

Our guest speaker was a mother telling her story of her son’s enlistment, training, serving in Afghanistan and returning home. She spoke of her journey as a parent and how it involved pride, joy, honor and fear. Her words hit close to home.

“I want to be a marine,” my son had said.

My emotions and thoughts tumble about. It’s a jungle out there.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Breakfast Dates

It is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And I could not agree more.

Yes, it is the meal that gets the day started. It is breaking your fasting from the night before. Scientifically, it gets the metabolism revved up for the day. And because of that, I have heard that eating breakfast helps one lose weight.

I think that may be a theory though. Yesterday, I went to a “King’s Men” Breakfast at a local church. We had stuffed (blueberries and cream cheese) French toast, sausage and hard-boiled eggs. It was fantastic. I thought it would be dangerous to eat like that then have a meeting, but the meal truly started us on a productive day.  I got things done.

Of course, part of it could have been the fellowship with the other men.  There were little jokes about being married that guys say, not in being mean or anything, but just being guys with a common ground. My favorite was the joke about the husband who had not spoken for seven years in his marriage. When asked why, he said, “I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt.” I had to chuckle at that one. And as not to accidently break any guy code, I will conclude by saying that guys getting together is good.

It’s the getting together over breakfast I like. Heidi and I have started having “Breakfast Dates.” All over Houghton Lake there are little diners with friendly, yet quiet, morning servers. I mention quiet because not everyone out for breakfast can deal with the really perky people. At least I can’t, I am not a morning person until after breakfast.

Anyway, we have breakfast. We, depending on what day it may be, plan the week, the weekend or that particular day.  For example, on Sundays, we pretty much know our routine for the day of family time, watching the Lions (in the fall), and computer work for the online classes we both teach. So, we will run through the week: meetings, appointments and things for the kids. This strategy meeting usually happens between ordering and getting our food. During the rest of breakfast, we chat about little, casual things from the weather to how to raise our children without causing serious physical harm or emotional damage to them or ourselves.

The neat thing about breakfast, even with the options, is that the choices are simple. “Do you want white, wheat or sourdough toast?” One has a certain amount of control and empowerment went ordering eggs to one’s liking, and it is not high maintenance for the server or the cook; there is no guilt or inconvenience when responding to “How do you want your eggs?” The server asked, and you respond.
Economy wise, breakfast is inexpensive if you, the consumer, allow it to be. For the price of a dinner entrée, I can get Heidi and I a breakfast we both will enjoy.

Lately, my kids want in on the Breakfast thing too. We have done them as a family, as parents with child, as father and son, mother and daughter and the various combinations that can happen. It is a quieter moment and easy to do. And, like most things, there is the Home Version, where we make that meal at home and enjoy it as a family. Dinner does not have to be the only family meal.

Earlier today, we had a sunny booth, a courteous waitress with a bright smile, two omelets and a nice conversation about the week and holiday plans. We had time with each other. No interruptions.

Yes, breakfast is the most important meal. After all, it is a jungle out there.