Such a busy time of year!, but I wanted to get out one last blog post before Christmas. It’s not really busy for the same reasons it has been in the past though. It really a relief to not be running around doing last minute shopping. I keep getting reminded all the time of the kindness of so many people. This past week, my wife and I were honored guest at the Vietnam Veterans of America Sacramento Valley – Chapter 500 monthly meeting. They gave us a wonderful gift to help out with the cost of driving down to Palo Alto and spending Christmas day with Erin and Sam.
Erin mentioned to me yesterday that they are getting so many Christmas cards from all over the place. She said they’re getting five to ten cards a day!
To all of you, friends and family, who are supporting and praying for Sam and Erin: You’re prayers are being answered and you have given the Nichols and Neria families a wonderful gift in your prayers and the love and caring you have shown us….Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I have a special guest writer for today’s post. Sam’s father wrote about a couple of wonderful father-son experiences he had with Sam that he has graciously agreed to share with everyone through this blog. But before that, here is a quick (and exciting) update on Sam:
Monday December 21st, 2007: Sam said his first word yesterday! Well, sort of first word, “uh-huh”! Erin asked him a question (I forgot what it was), but instead of using his finger signing, he said “uh-huh”. Erin asked him the question again and he repeated the word. Both her and the speech therapist looked at each other in disbelieve! Today he also used the same word. It’s a baby-step, but he is on his way.
Sam has had a cough the last 4-5 days. He’s had his chest x-rayed a couple of times this week and it has been clear both times, so Erin doesn’t think it’s a cold. Probably allergies or something like that.
Hello to all….I want to thank you all for remembering to pray for Sam’s recovery. It is slow but constant and the progress is indeed measurable…It is obvious to me that the miracle is just not Sam’s restoration; but the ripples that move away from Sam affecting so many others from around the world…God will make good use of this to further his designs for all of us….
I wanted to take the time to tell a story of Sam and what kind of a man and son that he is….where his heart is and the love he so demonstrated for his Dad…
First I think it is well known that he could have chosen any branch of the service and would have succeeded anywhere he went. I think he chose the Marines to please me and so that we would have something to share…he had heard many stories and although he only had the opportunity to do the Air Force JR, ROTC program, there was a certain mystique about the Corps…I must admit I was pleased when he left to talk to an Army recruiter, but came home and announced his decision to be a Marine. I immediately felt ill as I knew he would be put in harm’s way and somehow I contributed to that…Nothing makes you take it to God faster than the thought your kids may be in danger….but on with the story…
When he came home from boot camp he was fit and extremely muscular…(Marine Corps boot camp will do that to you)…The boys had never beaten me at arm wrestling although they were getting closer and closer as I developed tendonitis in my elbow…we playfully challenged each other regularly and this time was no different so it was on…Sam and I on the kitchen table and the rest of the family were interested spectators…I think they saw Sam as a possibility to put some humility in this swaggering brute…It was like arm wrestling a fire plug. He was so strong and seem to do it effortlessly. We both seem to get some advantage and then lose it…and then the pain in my elbow…oh shoot I thought (only I didn’t say shoot), this was it; I am going to have to relinquish my crown…and then with one last burst of strength I dropped his arm to the table…Amidst the laughs and jeers of the onlookers, I saw something that I’ll never forget as long as I live….Sam leaned back in his chair a twinkle in his eye; a sheepish grin on his handsome face and I knew then and there he had let me win…Did he think my ego so fragile that a loss would do me irreparable harm? No I just think he wanted me to have that continued victory because he loved me. That selflessness that made him a Marine’s Marine was so aptly demonstrated there that night….but that was only the first time he had done this…
Donny and I had gone to Oceanside the few weeks before he left for his second tour in Iraq…He and Erin were packing and getting ready for her to move to Citrus Heights and he to leave for the big sand box…Sam and Erin wanted to take us to “Medieval Times” for an afternoon of fun and games…It was great fun…after he wanted to take us to a private indoor firing range to practice for an upcoming qualification that would help determine his promotion to Sergeant. As we walked in, Sam wanted to compete for targeted
rounds and I told him loser would have to pay for dinner at the “Lobster Taco Shack” he had been telling us about for two days…he agreed…Shooting a weapon for a Marine is like riding a bike and not forgotten so I did well from the beginning…He let me shoot first and he would follow up…When we came down to the last of the competition it was neck and neck and his last target showed three rounds just outside of the first ring…It was a
fraction of an inch, but I had won…Erin even said at the time, “Your Dad got ya honey”! Of course I pridefully accepted my victory and thought that I should be shooting competitively somewhere..Ha! About two weeks later, I had gotten word that he had scored “Expert” with both the rifle and hand guns…a dual expert and then it hit me…he pushed those rounds outside of the circle just to let me win. He could have placed those slugs exactly where he chose and he did…By this time he was in Iraq and I haven’t as of this date ever talked to him about that contest, but I will someday….
So you see your prayers aren’t wasted on some undeserving and selfish man that only thinks of himself…he is giving, loving, and full of compassion for all those around him. I am proud to be his Dad as I am of all my sons, but this is about Sam and I wanted you all to know what I know to be true about him as well……