The family has scattered to all points of their lives after the holidays. My wife has packed the ornaments and recalls the different meaning they have to her through a sparkle in her eye and quiver in lips. It was good to have their noises back in our home even though it was short lived. I have a son who is serving with the 101st as a 68 whiskey. He had asked if a few of his buddies could come for a visit. My wife replied without hesitation "absolutely!” They went to the usual tourists spots and a day at Disneyland. But by far their favorite was playing deck hand on the tugs. They wanted to fill out applications right then and there. My son said, “all you need to do is spell your name correctly and you got the job.” The four of them were playing COD on the couch and having fun. (I thought they would be over that by now since they do it for real) I was eavesdropping their conversation as they made comments. They kept making reference “oh he’s not a man” This piqued my curiosity. I asked, “What do you mean?” “Well, there’re some guy that wants to marry a girl right outside the walls, and its his first love” I said “what’s wrong with that? He said, “ they haven’t experienced life yet, but that’s just on example. We have another guy who tells us one thing and does something else, he has poor leadership skills, and he’s not a man either.” I replied, “Is this issue a matter of integrity or experience that you guys judge people.” My son replies “hummm, maybe a little of both. But we expect better of them. They talk a lot but have never been tested.” “Saying what you’re going to do. And what you do as you’re being tested are two different things” followed by a taunting from his COD playing buddies. My son gets up off the couch and heads for the kitchen while he takes requests from his buds. Do I ask him? Do I have the strength for the answer? So I ask my son, “am I a man?” He looks me straight in the eye “you’re the first man I’ve ever known, yes” I asked, “what about grandpa?’ His reply, “grandpa is grandpa, he gave me ice cream when mom said no, he’s all ready paid the price and he excels as being, the grandpa.” I chuckled and ask, “Are you a man?” Again he gives me a look right into my soul “I don’t know, have you taught me good enough? I want to be like you. But I haven’t been tested yet. Will I succeed after my test? I want to be tested, again and again. I look forward to the challenge what ever it may be. You told me, my test will be painful and I’ll come out of it different. Different in the fact that I learned a lesson. However, a key you taught me, is to get up again and again. I’ll be okay dad, it could be more painful for you, to watch your son being tested” Gulp Push Hard, Press Forward He and his buddies will be deployed soon to replace other units. I hope I survive my test too.