…But my Central Texas upbringing included choosing a bible verse at dinner and discussing it until Dallas came on, at which point Daddy poured a scotch and water or three and demanded silence.
I foolishly chose from Job one evening in order to let the old man know in a roundabout way that keeping me out of football practice for a week in punishment for being caught kissing my girlfriend (now my wife of many years) out behind the field house at lunch one afternoon was excessive (one didn’t confront the old man – In consequence one would feel something cold on one’s face and realize right smartly that the cold surface was the floor).
He was wise to me, the Colonel (I think he was a Major at the time), and having just come home from a three-week field problem with the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, too tired to put one of his famed smack-downs on me, so my punishment was to memorize the verse, Job 17:11-16 DV. To this day, I know it better than I know the Ranger Creed, and during times of worry (I don’t do despair), it comes to me:
My days have passed away, my
thoughts are dissipated, tormenting my
They have turned night into day,
and after darkness I hope for light again.
If I wait hell is my house, and I have
made my bed in darkness.
I have said to rottenness: Thou art
my father; to worms, my mother and
Where is now then my expectation,
and who considereth my patience?
All that I have shall go down into
the deepest pit; thinkest thou that there
at least I shall have rest?
I discussed that verse once more with my Daddy the Colonel, twenty-seven years ago today, after being released from Silas B. Hays Army Hospital at Fort Ord, CA following a stay for wounds sustained during operation Just Cause. This date always brings the verse to mind – Not so much for the content, but for Daddy’s comments regarding it: “You don’t get any rest, son. You lead your men to the best of your abilities, you act as an example to the rest of the Company Grade officer Corps, you maintain yourself physically and mentally, and you put forth 110% effort every day of your career. Then you’ll more than likely have to start a second career, where you’ll get no rest either. But think about it – You just spent 9 days lying on your a** “resting” – Did you enjoy it?”
Nope. I did not, Daddy…And for the record, you were always more wise than I gave you credit for.