I guess we have heard enough about the terrible things that are happening in Afghanistan. We all know who is responsible. I know I do. Of course not talking about it won’t make it any better, but I just wanted to write about something else.
Do you remember anyone ever asking you what you want to be when you grow up? I can’t remember anyone ever asking me exactly what I wanted to do or be. I’m almost sure someone did, but I can’t seem to remember it happen. If they did ask you what you wanted to be or do, did you have an answer?
As hard as my dad worked on the farm or ranch, I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to follow him in his travels here on God’s Earth. Being crippled never seemed to stop him from doing anything, so I guess I just wanted to be like him in that I didn’t want anyone to stop me if I had an idea that I wanted to pursue.
I remember being happy to have a full meal three times a day. So the future was as close as the next mealtime. My mom and dad often told me to do something and they didn’t bother asking me if I could or not. I’m pretty sure that’s why I was able to do the things that mattered in my life. If I wanted to do something I would always remember my pop closing the door about five o’clock in the morning to return after dark.
I’ve told you before that I wasn’t what you might call a good student. I can’t blame anyone but myself for the terrible report cards I brought home to my parents. I’m sure I could have done better, but that was an epiphany that came much after I had become an adult. There just seemed to be too many butterflies or cute girls for me to pay attention to as I grew up.
When I stop to think about where I am and how I got here, I am amazed at all the opportunities that were presented to me. It got so that I would always volunteer for any assignment because I always figured that I would be able to better myself if I did. Many times I was chosen for some assignment because I just walked up to the person in charge and asked for the duty. I found out pretty quick in life that if you want to do something, just ask.
Many times folks in charge don’t really have the ability to choose who can do the task, you just have to ask. I was asked once to be the officer in charge of the scuba team I was assigned to. There were men there that out ranked me and I was pretty intimidated, but I jokingly asked the officer in charge that I wanted the job. To my surprise, he gave me that responsibility. I really didn’t think much about what I had done.
We were working with explosives where we would exit an old diesel submarine with our scuba tanks on and swim using nothing but our compass to get to an island off shore near Key West, Fla. Then we would crawl up and plant the charges and return to the submarine, again under water. I had never done anything like that, but I knew we had experienced swimmers along with us that would surely stop us from hurting ourselves. To my relief, it all went as planned. I would like to say that it was because of me, but it was because someone believed in me.
I have been blessed to have met some of the greatest folks in the world, as far as I am concerned. In every case it was someone that believed in me. So you are probably thinking, why I ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Well, it’s not a simple answer, but the sum of many people and their belief in me.
I know that today I am a man. I am the father of three wonderful children and the husband of the most wonderful woman to walk the earth. My children make me proud and my friends make me humble. Before I wrote this little confession, I was watching TV as Buck Owens, the father of the Bakersfield Honky-Tonk music, was being inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame. I remembered waiting for hours to hear him play at the NCO Club in Germany and the memories just started rolling down my cheeks.
I sat down to tell you about that night, when Lorraine came in from the mailbox with a letter she just received. It was a copy of the last poem that Clem Albertoni wrote called “Dad’s Last Poem.” Clem was another person whom I called a friend. After I read it, it made me remember how every time a special person leaves us for their meeting with Their Maker, another Museum closes.
Clem Albertoni was simply a genius. He was a person you could not dislike. He could make an onion laugh. He often walked into my gun shop to discuss weapons, the weather, South County, laughs or really anything. I think he knew everything. He always made the day brighter. I smile when I remember how he could make you laugh until your ribs hurt.
I stopped writing my contribution to your reading matter for the week and broke down again. It’s strange to cry about a man who always made you laugh about life, but that was his contribution to us. God Bless.