For Josh (Sunday Song lyrics with a personal touch)

An old childhood friend leaves for Iraq tonight. He’s been training in Mississippi since July. I’m worried sick for him, but so proud at the same time.

My friendship with Josh goes way back to when I was a teenager. He and I both were wounded, angry kids. Both grew up without fathers, both felt we were screwed out of a happy childhood. We both came from crazily dysfuctional families.

We were also crazy in love back then. As in love as you can be when you’re 14 and 16. Josh was probably the most cynical kid I’ve ever met. He was wise beyond his years because he had to be. Though he had a beautiful heart and a kind soul, his exterior was rough. He was guarded.

Both of us didn’t expect much out of life, but Josh was the more pessimistic of the both of us. He did NOT want kids when he got older. Neither did I. We were so scared of fucking them up, being bad parents, making the same mistakes our parents had. He loved with his whole heart but didn’t accept it easily.
Eventually we broke up and grew up. We fell out of touch for many years, each of us moving forward with our lives.

Several years ago, we got back in touch. I was surprised to find that he’d re-married (his first marriage ended badly) a wonderful woman and was now the father of four kids. Two boys and two twin girls. He was also much less cynical. He made a fine grown up. Love and parenthood had transformed him. The love for his wife and children was obvious from his emails and the countless pictures he would send me. I was so relieved that the world had proven him wrong, he was being much less harder on himself. He was happy for me for the same reasons. We’d turned out just fine, lucked out in love and life, in spite of everything we thought. We remain friends even now, emailing at least once a week when we can.  Each of us, worrying if we don’t hear from the other.  Mainly?  Because no one knew us like we were back then.  And we try to keep each other from ever going back to that.
Josh is heartbroken over having to leave his kids and wife behind to go to Iraq. I honestly believe he’s much more worried about how they’ll handle his being gone than his own fears of facing death, facing injury, facing the enemy. The only time his stoicism is shaken is when he writes to me about something one of his kids said to him over the phone. He lives for those moments and wants to be his best for his family. I’m so proud of him. His family is so proud of him. I know, and they all know that he’ll do his country proud.

I was listening to Montgomery Gentry today and this song made me think of him. It makes me think of all the soldiers serving their country. PROUDLY. And the choices and things that happen to us, when you least expect them, and make us better people.
Josh, I love you, my dear friend. This is for you.

“Something To Be Proud Of”

There's a story that my daddy tells religiously
Like clockwork every time he sees an opening
In a conversation about the way things used to be
Well I'd just roll my eyes and make a bee-line for the door
But I'd always wind up starry-eyed, cross-legged on the floor
Hanging on to every word
Man, the things I heard

It was harder times and longer days
Five miles to school, uphill both ways
We were cane switch raised, and dirt floor poor
'Course that was back before the war
Yeah, your uncle and I made quite a pair
Flying F-15's through hostile air
He went down but they missed me by a hair
He'd always stop right there and say...

That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
That's a chin held high as the tears fall down
A gut sucked in, a chest stuck out
Like a small town flag a-flyin'
Or a newborn baby cryin'
In the arms of the woman that you love
That's something to be proud of

So I'm graduatin' college, that was mama's dream
But I was on my way to anywhere else when I turned 18
Cuz when you gotta fast car you think you've got everything
I learned quick those GTO's don't run on faith
I ended up broken down in some town north of L.A.
Working maximum hours for minimum wage
Well, I fell in love, next thing I know
The babies came, the car got slow
I sure do miss that old hot rod
But you sure save gas in them foreign jobs
Dad, I wonder if I ever let you down
If you're ashamed how I turned out
Well, he lowered his voice, then he raised his brow
Said, lemme tell ya right now

That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
You don't need to make a million
Just be thankful to be workin'
If you're doing what you're able
And putting food there on the table
And providing for the family that you love
That's something to be proud of

And if all you ever really do is the best you can
Well, you did it man

That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
That's a chin held high as the tears fall down
A gut sucked in, a chest stuck out
Like a small town flag a-flyin'
Or a newborn baby cryin'
In the arms of the woman that you love
That's something to be proud of
That's something to be proud of
Yeah, that's something to be proud of
That's something to be proud of
Now that's something to be proud of

2 Responses

  1. Heather Says:

    Tell Josh that I said good luck and take care of himself.

  2. dAVE Says:

    Mate,

    I like that song to.

    Ya think Iraq parents are proud of their kids.

    I bet they are.

    Dave

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