Pete’s head nodded forward. He sat straight up in his chair by the bed. He was still holding his father’s hand. There was no sound except the beeping of the machinery monitoring the Major--and keeping him alive.
Now I almost wish I hadn’t been away so much all those years… Pete’s work had taken him away from home for long stretches of time, even years. He’d worked all over the world.
He even did a stint with the military. Even that didn’t please Dad; it just made him worry… It always seemed like Dad was never satisfied--at least not with me... My father, grand-fathers, and great-grandfathers all had their war. But I was never cut out to be a soldier...
Pete grinned. I guess I’ve fought my own wars though--just in a different way…
Peter thought back to that fateful day; before he went away to school… when he finally got up the courage to tell his father what he wanted to do with his life…
“You want to be a what? Why waste your life on that?”
“You’re our only son. We want grandkids. Who’s going to pass on the family name...”
“Cousin Daryl already has--passed on the name. Kerstie and Linda can give you grandkids. I’m… I’m more than my DNA Dad. I’m more than just a name… aren’t I?” Peter was frustrated and disappointed though he wasn’t really surprised that his father wasn’t too enthusiastic about his announcement.
“I just don’t get it that’s all. Why spend all your days--and nights--doing that? Not much pay either I bet… What kind of life is that? What, you don’t like girls or something?”
Pete sighed. “I do like girls, I just like God better. It’s a calling Dad…”
Pete always felt somehow inferior around his dad. He just wasn’t… a warrior. He’d always been the sensitive one. He loved people and animals--not guns. His mom always said he’d become a doctor or something… Is she disappointed, too? No. I know she’s not. At least she understands... “You know I’m not the soldier type Dad…”
“I know, but this? Are you sure you’ve thought this thing through? Don’t rush into anything boy. This thing; it’s a very serious commitment…”
“I know, Dad… But I’m not a boy--and I’m not rushing. This is something I’ve thought about for years. I really think it’s time. You just don’t say ‘No,’ to God, Dad.”
Pete hoped his dad would come around eventually. And he had, Especially these last few weeks… Thank you God, for this time with him.
Pete’s father stirred in his hospital bed. “Pete?”
“I’m here Dad.” He’d visited every day. They’d had some great talks, deep talks--finally. Sickness does that… Brings people, even hardened soldiers, closer to the Lord…
“I… I’m proud of you son,” Major Guerrero croaked. “These past few weeks…”
“I know, Dad.”
“Let me finish.”
Pete smiled. Always the commander… I’ll miss him.
“You did the right thing… son. You do a good job… at that church… You helped loads of people… all over the world... That’s better than shoot ‘em ups any day...”
“Thanks Dad. It means a lot to me to hear you say that. But you said it yourself, many times--there’s only one me--and you… We’re all given different gifts…”
Major Guerrero tried to sit up. “Save your strength Dad.”
Peter leaned closer, so his Dad could better see his face. After his years of helping the poor and infirmed and working as a missionary he knew that his father’s time was near, very near…
He’d seen it so many times, too many times… But that was part of his job, too: being there, at times like these. But this is different, in some ways--in a big way… This is my Dad…
“I wasn’t… finished,” said the Major. ”I have… to say this… Now… Your Mother’s… waiting for me… I love you… son… My son… the priest… Father Guerrero... Has a nice ring… to it… Doesn’t it…?” He smiled.
“I love you too, Dad.” Peter wiped a tear from his eye.
The Major’s hand went limp. He still had a smile on his face.
Through his tears Peter prayed once again for his father’s soul.
I miss him already… He prayed for those left behind. Major Guerrero had joined his Mrs. in heaven.
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