Tuesday, June 17, 2008

With Arms Wide Open





SSSSSOOOOOO Reuben!

When my friend Janet came over last night I showed her these new photos of Reuben and she said "That's so Reuben! He always enjoys life doesn't he?" Janet's brother Johnny is Reuben's best friend forever, and it was Johnny, or Jonathan as he's being called now, that asked Reuben to come over and help him bury some dead puppies that his mom's dog had given birth to. That's when Reuben (because he can) jumped the 8' chain fence separating himself and the puppies - he found the dead puppies Jonathan was talking about, and then he found a live puppy. Reuben saved that puppy from her own mother who was putting her down in a manner that you and I would say was natural. Reuben doesn't like to see anything cruel, or what he perceives as being cruel - and he saved the puppy's life. That is the story of how our family came to have our dog Faith - who like Reuben, proudly serves in the United States Army.

Some of the time when I look over pictures of my son I see a little bit of a challenge. On the first day, the very first day of Kindergarten he was pulled to me by his arm - the teacher had been challenged all day! She explained to me that my son simply HAD TO HAVE the orange chair. He HAD TO HAVE the others playing Army all day. He HAD TO be their General, and he was telling them what to do, how to die, and he was telling them the difference between the Confederate Army and the Union Army when she was reading "One Fish Two Fish" to them. The children, as you may have guessed, were far more interested in playing Army. I remember thinking to myself that this boy's educational path was going to be a rocky one. I was right.

Baby boy got out of school primarily because of his abilities to strategize not only on the football field where he reigned supremely, but also in his History classes and his P.E. classes, forget about English, Science, and Math, no one needs these classes - play all day, and play hard as you can! No one and I mean NO ONE was more popular in the hallways of that high school than the muddy faced (or clean faced) boy you see in this blog - he was the center of attention at all times. I'm not saying that I condone any of his antics, I don't and as a teacher I was literally ripped to shreds inside because that meant I had to give the REUBENS in my class more leniency since he was probably getting it from his teachers because he helped make the football team as good as it was. I hate that fact, that fact just kills me, but it is true - sports in Oklahoma turns the gears in a lot of schools - my son the cog! Loving every bloody minute of it too....and always, muddy or clean - smiling.

When I think about it, and I think about it a lot, I envy the way my son looks at life. His face, his wide smile, his eyes beaming and busting with true joy from whatever happens to him throughout the day. He's truly the Aries! He hits everything full force, and he does it with so much finesse! The boy didn't invent full-contact baseball, full-contact basketball, or full-contact hallway hello, but he did perfect it to a degree for many years. When I say he was born to drive tanks in Iraq - well, maybe that's why God put him there. I gave him up to God before he was born, and every Father's Day I'm reminded that I did it in public on his first Father's Day when he was just about 3 months old. He isn't my boy really - he belongs to a much higher power.

Creed's song "With Arms Wide Open" begins with these lyrics: Well I just heard - the news day today - it seems my life - is going to change" and that is exactly the way I felt the day Dr. David Kallenberger confirmed for me what I think I thought on that hot July morning in 1985...my life was going to change. I went from being Jude to being MOM even though it was another 7 and 1/2 months before that broad-smiling face came out looking for someone to knock over. He found me. Another part of the lyrics to that song refers to the way the father, or in this case me, the mother, intends on accepting the boy - the son: With Arms Wide Open.

That big kid hasn't changed. He's bowled me over more times than I care to relate....sometimes literally. When my baby boy was just 14 he backed up in the living room and wanted to show me EXACTLY how he had been trained by the great Reggie White to make the perfect tackle. I should have moved, but that would have meant that the boy himself would have landed inside the television cabinet...instead I broke my right wrist. Today, when I hear the words "Mom, watch this", I move - fast!

Celebrating the fact that he's about to leave the land of the Midnight Sun forever and be trained to travel and beat the heat and scary events before him in what the Army affectionately refers to as the Sandbox, my son has given his seal of approval to another day of being a kid. Snowy mountaintops are fun to sled down in the winter it appears and just as much fun when all that snow melts. Can it get any more beautiful than that? Less than 6 weeks now and he'll be squeezing me again - let's hope he leaves his dirty laundry in Alaska! I'll take the smiles.

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