I went to The House of Emporer tonight, where my son used to deliver Chinese food before he was promoted to waiter. Before he left for Marine boot camp in San Diego. They were thrilled to see us, my husband and I, pointing out the letter he’d written which was tacked to the board by the cash register. “We miss him,” they said. “He is very nice.”
I looked at that letter, at the mark my son makes on so many people. Like his father, he can make friends with any one. Any where, at any time. I’m not like that. I make friends with a select few, those whom I sense have a genuine heart rather than traits which annoy me or cause me to question myself.
But, Daniel? Probably he’s made many friends in the Marine brotherhood. He wrote to us that he’s leader of his prayer group, this boy whose friends at home made me stay up nights in my own private prayer group of one.
He wrote that two recruits tried to escape by climbing the fence, and now face felony charges; if they weren’t getting yelled at enough before, surely they are now. By Drill Instructors, or parents, or even their own inherent sense of shame. “Dumbasses,” he called them, astute enough to recognize the futility of quitting when many twice his age have yet to learn that lesson.
He wrote that he shot a score of 234, which was only two points below his Senior Drill Instructor’s score of 236. I joke at school that I should have given him a gun years ago…
My mother said she’s proud of me, of the way that I’m handling his choice to be a Marine. I’m handling it, to be sure, proud of his accomplishments. Proud of the way he’s pursuing his dream. But my pride does not usurp my concern. Or, the way I come home every night calling, “Did we get a letter?”
We’re going to San Diego on April 10. We’ll see him graduate, God willing, and receive the emblem of the eagle, globe and anchor. He will be called Marine for the first time since January 17.
But I will always call him son.