Monday, 27 April 2009

My Biggest Hero Was Nine Years Old.

When my son was in second grade I was the leader of his Cub Scout Den. Before his third grade school year started, a Cub Scout Pack leader called and asked if I would take on another boy. We had a large group and I knew it wouldn't be easy, but so did everyone else in this age group.

The kicker of the deal was that Tray was a cancer patient and an amputee, one leg at the knee. I had a hard time making up my mind about exposing "my" boys to what I was almost positive would surely end in a lot of anguish and sadness for all of us. I finally decided to take him in, but before I said yes to our Pack leader I called all my parents to let them know what I planned to do and get their feedback.

To a person, they all supported my decision. Only one mother verbalized the fears I had for the emotional well being of my little charges, but she too supported my plan. We felt like it would help teach them compassion and generosity, it did and us too!

When Tray came to us I found out that not only did he have severe health and physical problems, his family was incredibly poor. But they wanted Tray to have all the experiences he could in what would most likely be a short life. His parents did their very best to provide it.

Tray was without a doubt the most enthusiastic member of my scout den. There wasn't anything he wouldn't try to do. When we did the things for all their little badges he was right in there with us, and most often excelling. ALL of my boys encouraged him and helped whenever they could, this carried over into their school life as well.

Even the physical fitness segment of our program he did well in, better than most other boys save for the broad jump. Tray just couldn't get far enough to match the standards the Cub Scout Manual said had to be met to achieve this badge. I passed him on this one because I deduced that the skills were written for boys with two legs and since Tray only had one his goal should only be half that of the other boys. Tray acheived that half and a great deal more, in fact was only just a little short of the minimum anyway.

We all progressed along through Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Lion ranks and went on to Webelos. Over the years our Pack's leadership made sure that somehow Tray had all the hats, uniform parts, etc. that was necessary for him to be just like everyone else. Most of the time I knew that some of the things required weren't in his folks budget but they found ways and when they couldn't we found ways to make sure it just happened.

We all suffered with Tray on days he had just come from chemo and was so sick he couldn't go 10 minutes without a trip to the bathroom. But he was in there with all of us and insisted on coming to meetings when any one of the rest of us, child or adult, would have been too ill to go.

Just before the end of the Cub Scout program I took them all to a Boy Scout meeting to see how it was and help them make the final yes or no decision to continue on in the Scouting program. Tray was ready. I helped him choose a Troop and introduced him to their leader and such to prepare him for the sixth grade year when he would move to Boy Scouts.

My proudest moment was to watch all my boys go through the Arrow of Light ceremony, Tray included. This ceremony marks the transition from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts if they choose to go on. All my other boys' interests had changed over the years and they were into sports, band and other things; not Tray, he would be my only Boy Scout.

The summer before sixth grade came and went and just before the next school year was to start Tray was taken from us. I like to think he was just asked to join another troop whose leader is far better than I could have ever hoped be.

We all learned a lot from Tray; "my" boys, their parents and me. Yes, there is a plan and purpose for us all and, I think, I am not the only one in my community who has a nine-year-old hero.

Now, when I am in difficult situations I often think of how Tray would have handled it. This makes the going a lot easier because I know he would have tackled the challenge with greater gusto and zeal than anyone else and finally succeed in the end.

By: James Garner
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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Duck Hunting

He and a friend go duck hunting in winter, and of course all the lakes are frozen. These two guys go out on the lake with their guns, a dog, and of course the new vehicle. They drive out onto the lake ice and get ready. Now, they want to make some kind of a natural landing area for the ducks, something for the decoys to float on.

In order to make a hole large enough to look like something a wandering duck would fly down and land on, it's going to take a little more effort than an ice hole drill. So, out of the back of the nw Navigator truck comes a stick of dynamite with a short, 40-second fuse.

Now, these two Rocket Scientists do take into consideration that they want to place the stick of dynamite on the ice at a location far from where they are standing (and from the new Navigator truck), and they don't want to take the risk of slipping on the ice when they run from the lit dynamite fuse and possibly go up in smoke with the resulting blast. They light the 40-second fuse and throw the dynamite as far away as they can.

Remember a couple of sentences back when I mentioned the vehicle, the guns, and the dog??

Let's talk about the dog: it's a highly trained Labrador used for RETRIEVING. Especially well trained at retrieving things thrown by the owner. You guessed it, the dog takes off at a high rate of doggy speed on the ice and captures the stick of dynamite with the burning 40-second fuse about the time it hits the ice. The two men yell, scream, wave their arms and wonder what to do now. The dog, cheered on, keeps coming.

One of the guys grabs the shotgun and shoots the dog. The shotgun is loaded with #8 birdshot, hardly big enough to stop a Lab. The dog stops for a moment, slightly confused, but continues on. Another shot and this time the dog, still standing, becomes really confused and of course terrified, thinking these two geniuses have gone insane. The dog takes off to find cover, under the brand new Navigator truck..

The men continue to yell as they run away. The exhaust pipe on the truck is still hot, so the dog yelps and drops the dynamite under the truck, and takes off after his master.

Then --BOOM-- the truck is blown to bits and sinks to the bottom of the lake in a very large hole, leaving the two idiots standing there with this "I can't believe this happened" look on their faces.

The insurance company says that sinking a vehicle in a lake by illegal use of explosives is NOT COVERED. He still had yet to make the first of those $560.00 a month payments!!!

And you thought your day was not going well.

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Their Sons

These 4 pals go out to play golf one sunny morning. One is detained in the clubhouse, and the other three are discussing their children while walking to the first tee.

"My son BIll," says one, "has made quite a name for himself in the home-building industry. He began as a carpenter, but now owns his own design and construction firm. He's so successful in fact, in the last year he was able to give a good friend a brand new home as a gift."

The second man, no to be out done, tells how his son began his career as a car salesman, but now owns a multi-line dealership. "George is so successful, in fact, in the last six months he gave his friend two brand new cars as a gift."

The third man's son, Albert, has worked his way up through a stock brokerage, and in the last few weeks has given a good friend a large stock portfolio as a gift.

As the fourth man arrives at the tee, another tells him that they have been discussing their progeny and asks what line his son is in.

"To tell the truth, I'm not very pleased with how my son turned out," he replies. "For 15 years, Frank's been a hairdresser, and I've just recently discovered he's gay. However, on the bright side, he must be good at what he does because his last three boyfriends have given him a brand new house, two cars, and a big pile of stock certificates."
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