When heroes call and perspective focuses

I was feeling lost and alone as my daughter left for college. Then I got a call from a soldier in Afghanistan thanking me for choosing his son for a newly formed travel baseball team.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va, August 19, 2011—It was the night before my daughter was leaving for college. Then it was the morning. I couldn’t go to sleep.

The time was 2 AM and my daughter was leaving at 6 AM. She would be 12 hours and 4 states away from our home in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The pity party I was having was just that. For more than 18 years, I have been there. Like any teenager’s father, I “never understood” or was too strict or old, or pick any other teen response to parents concerns.

Packed up and ready to go

Packed up and ready to go

As soon as my head hit the pillow, it seemed that there was rustling and bustling to get on the road. My daughter and her mother would drive the 760 miles to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where my Virginia daughter will attend the University of Alabama on an academic scholarship.

They had to get there in time for checkin on Saturday morning at the Tutwiler Dormitory, the “must be” place for freshman girls at the University of Alabama. Sorority Rush starts in a few days and it, in itself, is an event.

Being from Alabama, I understand.

My daughter and her mother cried and packed the final few things in the Suburban. I was in a daze, looking and feeling like a man who had just been dropped off in a foreign land and couldn’t speak the language.

My daughter’s boyfriend was there; he has another year of high school to go. My daughter’s boyfriend looked about as dumbfounded as I did.

After the drama, the packing and the crying, my daughter and her mother pulled out of the driveway. It was Friday morning, so I put the trash and the recycling bins out and drug myself back upstairs to go back to sleep.

At around 9 AM, my cell phone rang. My first and main concern was that I had stayed in bed too long, worrying about being late for work. Then, I picked the phone. The area code was “703,” I didn’t recognize it, but figured it was a student in one of my online college math courses.

1st Lt. Todd William Weaver  (b.10/22/1983-d. 09/09/2010), killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, after insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

1st Lt. Todd William Weaver (b.10/22/1983-d. 09/09/2010), killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, after insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

 

The gentleman on the other end of the line turned out to be the father of a player on my newly formed travel baseball team. The father began the conversation with “I just wanted to call you and tell you how happy and excited we are that you picked my son for your team.”

Still in somewhat of a daze, I just noted that, “We are happy to have him.”

Then we talked for a while, and I asked him about the 703 area code. “Oh,” he said, “I’m calling you from Afghanistan.” This set me back, and at the same time I thought this was very special. I’ve coached baseball for 30 years and never had a father call me from Afghanistan.

Here I was worrying about my daughter leaving to go to college, and this fellow was out in the desert away from his little boy, fighting for our country. It put things in perspective for me.

The gentleman and I talked a while longer, that perspective got stronger. His brother, a Williamsburg, Virginia native was killed in Afghanistan about a year ago. 1st Lt. Todd William Weaver, 26 (b.10/22/1983-d. 09/09/2010), was killed in action in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Sept. 9, 2010. I looked this up on my local newspaper’s website. The Virginia Gazette noted, “He (Lt. Weaver) died while leading his platoon and protecting the freedoms of the family, friends, and country he loved.”

Emma Weaver, holding daughter Kiley, accepts the flag that draped the casket of her husband 1st Lt. Todd Weaver Thursday as he is laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery (Image: Arlington National Cemetery )

My pity party for me and my daughter leaving for college was over.

After reading more about this young American hero, I found out he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the College of William & Mary in 2008. He was also a graduate of Bruton High School, where as a quarterback and baseball star he excelled at athletics as well as academics.

The death of Lt. Weaver puts all of our lives in perspective and made me see how mundane my pity party actually was. So, thank you, Lt. Weaver, for your service to your country and paying the ultimate sacrifice that keeps us all free.

I will give you my best effort in helping your nephew grow to be the kind of men your brother, and you, grew up to be.

BN Heard writes about what cranks his tractor at www.CranksMyTractor.com. His column is carried in newspapers and magazines across the southeastern United States.


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BN Heard

BN Heard is a mathematician who has spent more than 20 years in the aerospace industry.  Imagine a rocket scientist trying to figure out a way to make you smile, laugh, and sometimes roll on the floor. 

He cut the grass at his hometown newspaper in Alabama, played softball with a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and in addition to his mathematics degrees; he has a Minor in English.  He thinks that these things qualify him to write.  The truth is; he tells a good story.

He writes about life in general and the things that “crank his tractor.”  He sometimes travels across the country to find a laugh, then again sometimes he just steps outside his back door.  You can find out more about him at his Cranks My Tractor website, “like him” at his Facebook Fan Page , or follow him on Twitter.

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