Cumulative Days Riding: 170 Cumulative Days Blogging: 155
Today’s Mileage: 5 Total Trip Mileage: 1134
Greeting to all my fellow pilgrims! It is good to finally climb back onto the bike and report to you all what has happened in the past weeks. I had taken to the roadways and drove to Missouri to attend my eldest son’s graduation from US Army training. I then shared a day and a half drive with him back to South Carolina. The trip back was the rainiest stretch of travel I have ever undertaken in my life. It rained steadily from Memphis to Atlanta, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Mississippi and Alabama impacted by the string of tornados that were figuratively “in our rear view mirror!”
I enjoyed the opportunity to visit an area of the country I had never had the opportunity to see before, the Ozarks. The tree covered hills, rushing rivers and streams and pastures populated with cows and horses were idyllic. In many ways it reminded me of the upstate in South Carolina, for I saw a lot of timber haulers, pickup trucks and trailer homes!
I experienced a great deal of pride watching my son’s graduation as he had distinguished himself in his training and received the US Army Engineers Trailblazer Award, a distinction granted to only about 5% of the recruits. The award proclaimed: For meritorious achievement as a combat engineer Pvt. Edwards distinguished himself by exceeding course standards for all combat engineer occupational skills training levels of motivation, discipline, teamwork, and leadership throughout the training cycle, signifying him as one of Charlie Company’s finest.
He now stands tall and proud and is excited about making his way to Fort Lewis Washington where he will be assigned to a specific unit. The drive to Missouri afforded me an opportunity to reminisce about the joy and sorrows of parenthood and the time I spent with him as he grew up. I know that this mixture of ups (joys) and downs (stress and sadness) are part of the process of parenting, and a teenager’s need to find their own identity and path in life. I am excited about the growth he has shown in the military. I am excited that he will be seeing new places and meeting new people. These can be valuable transformative experiences. But I am also apprehensive as I know he will cross paths with problematic people, and be forced to make problematic choices. He very likely will go to war and be faced with death! I will save my thoughts on that prospect for another day. I look forward, with mixed feelings, to his life unfolding and my watching from the sidelines… but I have no other choice!
The title for today’s posting came from last Sunday’s sermon by the Rev. Pat Jobe. It is a Hawaiian prayer! Prayers come in a number of different forms and this one does not fit easily into the standard categories (e.g., Petition, Confession, Adoration, Intercession, Meditation, Thanksgiving, and Consecration). Given that it does not make any reference to the divine it functions very much like a therapy or self-help device. It offers a four step process to deal with feelings of sadness and anger at people or events in our lives. These many represent current situations or feelings we are carrying from our past. The first step is to declare “I’m sorry,” the second step is to ask “forgive me,” the third step is to declare “thank you,” and the final step is to proclaim “I love you!” Listening to Pat talk about the prayer and its usage made me realize that I needed to repeat this prayer with respect to both of my sons and my long deceased father.
Years ago as I prepared to become a father I remember thinking about my own father, about the pain and sorrow he visited upon his family. I cursed him for the scars we (his children) carried forward into our futures. I knew on some level that he carried his own scars, for he was the product of an emotionally distant alcoholic father. However, the pain was strong and not easily extinguished. I swore to myself, as I awaited the arrival of my first son that I would not make the mistakes my father made. I would be emotionally involved and invested in his life at the same time I would let him become who he needed to be!
I am happy to report that I did not make the mistakes my father made! However, sadly it seems that I made all new ones! I’ve come to believe that you cannot be a parent, a partner, a teacher or a friend without making what in hindsight can be called, mistakes. We cannot be “loving caring involved human beings” without some times disappointing or falling short of the hopes and expectations of those we love. I realize now that my father was just doing the best he could. I don’t make excuses for his bad choices, but I do forgive him for them. I thank him for the many gifts he gave me, including an interest in art and nature and my mechanical abilities. I am sorry for the frustration and sadness I know I visited on his life, especially as a cocky teenager and I do love him and regret that he never saw my successes and his grandsons.
I apologize to my sons, I am sorry for the things I have done that might have hurt or dismayed them. I ask for their forgiveness. Even if I knew of all the mistakes I’ve made I could not go back and change them, none of us can, so please forgive me! I have received so much joy from having them in my life. I have gained a youthful sense of awe and wonder as I experienced the world through their eyes. I have sense the possibilities of a future that extends far beyond my own time on this earth. I love you both and I pray for your safety. I pray that you have sons and daughters that bring you as much joy and provide you with as many insights as you have brought into my life. I will love you whether you succeed or fail, I will love you as much when you leave as when you come home. I will love you where ever you travel, whether I still walk this earth or whether you are on your own. My thoughts and prayers will always be with you!
I recently posted and old poem I had written about the sadness and regret I felt that my father and I had not talked and shared our thoughts and feelings as adults. The following represents a follow up to that poem:
ribbons and medals
a stoic face
hum of the highway
then he speaks
stories of intelligent actions
in a passionate voice
pride filled heart
a wish has been granted
a poem fulfilled
father and a son
two men – two voices
on a cross country trip
past troubles and sadness
in the rear view mirror
pushing through the driving rain
ahead of dangerous storms
toward blue sky
toward the future
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