Saturday, December 15, 2007

Is Anything Made in America Anymore?

This is a wonderful time -- looking forward to a first Christmas with my two grandsons and great-nephew. There is nothing I can imagine that could be better for Christmas than the gift of these precious little boys.

Yet...this is one of the most frustrating holiday seasons ever. With three little boys to shop for, thoughts go to Fisher-Price, Mattel, and all those other toymakers who made our holidays past so memorable. But -- all these names mean to me this Christmas is..."Made in China", lead paint, and toxic! I am furious at these corporations for betraying me, my grandchildren, and my country!

I've looked online for "Made in America" -- and I've found some things. So what's the problem? First, there is selection. There's not a whole lot that looks like a modern child might be thrilled to see under the tree. Maybe fifty years ago -- but not today. The second, and maybe the most significant -- price! Good gracious -- $50.00 for a set of 28 wooden blocks? Bless them for using "non-toxic ink", but do they really need to gouge me this badly!

All I want for Christmas is a non-toxic, reasonably priced toy, or two! What happened to Sam Walton's philosophy of American made? Surely the traditions of stocking stores and conducting transactions that made a simple Arkansas businessman the world's richest man, while selling quality, safe, American-made goods was good enough. Are his offspring so greedy that they would sell the nation's soul for a little more profit? And, mind you, this is not just a mere matter of what Walmart sells -- as Walmart goes, so goes the rest of the retail industry. The bottom line is dependent on competition, and competition has already been devastated by Walmart. Now that they've traded our national soul for a bowl of pottage, it's unlikely that any other merchants will do very much to try to bring us redemption.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Michael James Bohannon -- Happy Birthday, and Rest in Peace

Today (December 9th) is my firstborn son's birthday. Michael James Bohannon was born at the University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson. He was two months premature and weighed a little over 3 lbs. 5 oz. Nine days later, after a battle with necrotizing entercolitis and two surgeries, Michael passed away quietly in my arms in a "quiet room" at the hospital. As impossible as it may sound, just before he died, my tiny son opened his eyes, looked up at me, and smiled. He then made one last gasp, and I knew he was gone. The nurse came in and listened with the stethescope and confirmed it.

On this, his 29th birthday, I still miss Michael, and I love him very, very much.

Happy Birthday, Michael! I love you! ~ Daddy

Saturday, December 8, 2007

First Steps...

My grandson, David Jeremiah Garcia, began walking yesterday. Oh, he's been standing on his own for a few weeks, and he's taken a very tentative step or two, but yesterday he took a step while reaching for me, and doing that sneaky grownup thing, I moved back just out of reach. David kept stepping, and I kept moving back, encouraging him forward the whole time. Then I reached out, picked him up, gave him a big hug and kiss, and said, "You walked!" He smiled and wiggled a bit. He knew he'd just done something amazing. Needless to say, it made me feel good that the first walking David did was to get to me -- his Papa. We then called Mama and Grandma in from the yard and showed off for them.

This whole experience has been a reminder that we are constantly learning to walk, in one way or another. There are all sorts of steps we must learn to take. First we learn to balance ourselves and stand upright. Then we hold onto something and practice getting one clumsy foot in front of the other. Then someone we trust lets us hold onto their hand while we practice for the real thing. At last comes the day when we let go and take those anxious, uncertain steps and walk.

That is how it has been with so many aspects of my life. When I went to Marine Corps bootcamp, the first thing I had to look for after getting off the bus was the famous yellow footprints. We had to learn how to stand all over again -- heels together, feet forming a 45 degree angle. Then we had to learn how to walk, together -- left...left...left, right, left! "Don't bounce, this ain't a dance sweethearts!" "Get in step, get in step!" "The other right foot!" For 13 weeks I learned how to walk, until I was able to march off Parris Island as a United States Marine.

The latest walk for me, of course, is my writing. I've been learning how to balance, and how to take a few tentative anxious steps. Now, all of a sudden (or so it seems) I am walking -- stumbling and clumsy, yes...but writing! David just learned how to walk, and he will spend the next couple of years perfecting his steps. Soon he'll be walking without even thinking about his steps; he'll only be concerned with where he wants to go. He's given me a refreshing shot of courage, because I know that while I'm having to pay too much attention to my steps right now, before long I'll write and only be concerned with where I want to go.

David Jeremiah Garcia, I love you, and Papa's so proud of you! Now I want to succeed so you can be proud of me.

[Photo: David Garcia holding his Papa's hand at the Milledgeville, GA, Christmas parade, December 2, 2007]