A father's pride

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I didn't get a Father's Day phone call from either of my sons on Sunday, but I'm not angry at them about it.

Some of you readers may recall that both of my sons are members of the Marine Corps Reserves. Their unit, based at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, is currently on summer drill in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Their telephone access is limited so I wasn't sure if I would hear from them but my younger son, Ryan, texted late Sunday night to wish me a happy Father's Day and tell me that they will be in the field for the next several days.

While I understand they are grown men now with responsibilities and obligations of their own, I am disappointed that my older son, Ronnie, didn't get to spend his first Father's Day as a dad with my grand- son, Liam. I'm sure Liam was on Ronnie's mind on Sunday, just as Ronnie and Ryan were on mine.

It seems like not that long ago that my sons weren't much bigger than my grandson is now. As a divorced dad, I didn't get to spend as much time with my sons as I would have liked. That's time that I can never get back, and it's my greatest regret in life. Still, watching them grow up was an amazing, rewarding experience. Looking back, I remember taking them fishing, playing catch with them in the back yard, cheering them on as they played baseball and basketball, watching them graduate from high school. Twice I had the privilege of traveling to San Diego to watch first Ronnie and then Ryan graduate from Marine Corps basic training.

As I've said to my sons on more than occasion, if I could have imagined the kind of young men I would want my sons to be, my imagination would have fallen short of the reality. They are not perfect, but they are fine young men.

Somehow, they turned out to be very much like me, but they only reflect the best parts of me, not the countless flaws. My sons are dependable, steady and kind. They care about other people and each other. That's not to say they don't have their disagreements, like almost all siblings. Throw in some Marine Corps testosterone and it can get interesting sometimes -- like the time when Ronnie came home from boot camp and put his little brother in a sleeper hold. Or the time when they were younger and Ryan threw an angry cat onto Ronnie. Mostly, though, they look out for each another. I'm proud of their service and glad they have an opportunity to serve together.

Although I didn't get to speak to my sons directly on Father's Day, Ryan's girlfriend, Harlie, left me a nice note on the refrigerator and Ronnie's fiance, Christi, called me on Sunday. I'm not sure either of them knew how much I appreciated their gestures.

Ronnie and Ryan should be home in a couple of weeks and hopefully I will get to see my grandsons soon, too.

I'm very blessed, and very proud.