Even though he is so far away and I am not able to physically give him a hug, a kiss on the forehead, a pat on the back, or a high-five, I am closer to him than I believe I have ever been. Matthew is the very proud husband to his beautiful wife Tabitha, and the father of two of the most precious children in the world. He is currently stationed at the Mayport Naval Base in Florida. My wife and other two children live in Maine and are not able to see them as much as we would like, but thank God for Skype.
I was able to Skype with them last night and once again my heart melted. My two-year old grand-daughter demands her alone time with her Papa just as much as my seven-year old grand son. Last night out of the blue Christopher (my grandson) said, “I love you Papa”. I realized right then and there that he was exactly like his father. He was not ashamed to express his feelings. I grew up with a father who told my mother and my siblings and I that he loved us all the time at least 40 times a day. It didn’t matter where we were, whether in school, at the store, in front of company or around friends, it didn’t matter. I love you. Those three very simple words hold more significance than any other words. I was taught to mean what I say and to stand strong with those convictions. I was taught that when we use those three words, we aren’t supposed to use them in a flip manner and we better mean them. For some reason when I was told those three words by my grandson last night a flood of memories flashed through my head.
Matthew and I are so much alike in the emotional sense. We both cry and admit it. We can get our feelings hurt for the simplest things. When we are asked what is bothering us we blow it off as if it were nothing. We do eventually talk it out but only having taken the time to think about, really study it and understand it from the other person’s angle. We need time to process. Often the waterworks start, but it always leads to feeling so much better. There are also some differences between us. While growing up as a child and all the way through high school really, I was very shy. I seldom made eye contact and mostly looked at people’s feet. I was scared to death to talk in front of the class, and petrified when I didn’t know the answer. There were a few people who I was quite comfortable being around however, and they are the reason I made it through school. They were my courage when I didn’t have any and my inspiration. For some reason fourth grade was always my favorite and it was in this class that I started to come out of my shell. Well, until I had to start wearing glasses but that is another story. Now Matthew was the complete opposite of me when it came to social skills. He went to school to meet people. To this day he is one of those people who is a true “people” person. I am sure that while he was in school there wasn’t a student, teacher, cook, bus driver, or janitor that didn’t know him. He is that kind of guy. My wife is also very social, and has to be in order to be a school teacher. This must be where Matthew gets it. He has an amazing ability to tell a story and have his audience almost pee their pants. His sense of humor is contagious and can always turn a frown upside down.
Another one of Matthew’s great attributes is his hugs. I’m 5′ 7″ and he towers over me like a tree. Some of my best pictures are the one’s that have been taken by my family of him coming home and hugging me. I’m completely enveloped into him. There is no better feeling.
Every single time I talk to Matt on Skype or the phone I tell him I love him, at least 40 times. I don’t want there to be any room for doubt. Matthew has become the envy of many of his friends back home. He is a Master At Arms in the United States Navy and recently made it to MA2. His main responsibility is to be in charge of a group of men who patrol the waters off Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, Florida. He also stands guard over the water in the watch towers as well as at the gate. Cruising around on a serious power boat equipped with machine guns sounds like a pretty cool thing. He recently spent time training with some of the Navy Seal team in Virginia, and it was during this time that he took and passed to the next pay grade. I am so proud of him and of who he has become. I’m proud of the fact that he is passing on traits that I passed to him from my father. His son and daughter are learning respect, discipline, and honor. They are learning to mean what they say and say what they mean. They are learning about commitment and what that really entails. Matthew played sports in school and the saxophone in band. Sometimes he would become frustrated and want to quit, but we wouldn’t let him. We told him that you finish what you start, and I find it pretty cool that he just had that same conversation with his son.
I want Matthew to always know and always remember how very, very much I love him. I pray that these stories, these words, are encouraging to him as he forced to walk this path with me. I know time is slipping away, but I hope these stories will preserve what God allowed us all to have while together. There is so much that I want and need to say to him. “You Matthew, have become a success. You have an incredible wife who adores you, and two of the most special kids that I could have ever been blessed with for grandchildren. You did this Matthew. You made it happen. I am so proud of you. You are amazing and I love you forever.”