Monday, March 4, 2013

To Josh.


"Mom, when is dad coming home?" 

Those are the first words I remember coming out of my baby brother's mouth. I'm sure if I took a minute and really focused, I could come up with something else, but that's what I remember. 

Our dad had been dead only a few hours when he asked that question. 

***

Four of a kind: Sloats. 
I'll never forget letting him drive my car for the first time. I've blogged about it before, but I can condense it here for those who haven't heard the story.

Josh could not have been more than 10 years old. I needed to move my car a few feet from the driveway to the patio to do something stupid to it, like add subwoofers or crappy undercarriage lights. 

Josh wanted to drive. I thought, "eh, what's the worst that could happen?" and I let him hop behind the wheel, scoot the seat up, and give it a go. The car rolled a few inches then caught the lip of the patio and wouldn't move. 

"Alright, Josh. I want you to reach down and just tap, just TAP the gas. You understand?" 
"Yeah!" 

He floored it. 

The car jumped over the lip, hit a picnic table we had on the patio, shoved it off and directly to our pool, which it would have destroyed had I not jumped into the car and mashed the brakes with my hand. 

Josh looked at me, eyes wide, breathing hard, not scared at all. 

"THAT. WAS. AWESOME!" 

***

He called me one night about six months ago. 

"Travis, I'm going to join the Marines." 

I laughed at him. 

"No you're not, it's not that bad at home." 

To tell the truth, I was kind of upset with him. For those of you who aren't intimately connected with my family history, my dad had three brothers, just like me. Out of those four boys, one died at the age of 9, the other at the age of 20, and my dad at the age of 40. 

Four brothers. Now one. The oldest is still alive. I am also the oldest. 

I am absolutely petrified of losing one of my brothers. One of my biggest requests to the Lord is that He'd take me home first, to spare me the pain of losing any more of my family. I am scared to death at the thought of one of them dying before me. 

As for military service, I've always supported it, but never really seriously considered any one of my brothers joining. Brad talked about it some, but never did. Jordan and I never really even considered it. It's one of those things where you think "Oh, that's fine for other people, but not for us." 

Well, it turns out Josh was serious. All three of us tried to talk him out of it. We insulted him, laughed at him, and told him how the Marines would eat his lunch. He's a small town kid from Okay, Oklahoma. He wouldn't know anyone. He has authority issues. People would stick bars of soap in pillow cases and make him their girlfriend. 

We probably overdid it. 

But he joined up. Then he left us for three months so he could go to boot camp. 

He wrote the family a letter the other day, his last one before graduation from boot camp in San Diego. 

Jordan tried to read it. 

It took Brad, faithful, strong, dependent Brad to read it. 

"I got my Sloat name bar the other day. I think dad would be proud of me." 

I can't even fully comprehend how proud our dad would be of you, Josh. I'm proud of you. Mom is proud of you. Aven and Akeeli are proud of. EVERYONE here is proud of you. 

Tomorrow I'm going to wake up and head to my mom's house, where I'll meet Jordan, my mom, and Josh's girlfriend Miesha. We are going to get in a van and drive 24 hours to San Diego. The Missus will fly out on Wednesday evening, and we'll all be watching Josh walk across the stage and become a Marine. 

I'll cry. It's what I do. 

I'm going to post a few more things about Josh this week. Give him a blog dedication of sorts. I think he deserves it. Truthfully, all of my brothers deserve it. We are Sloats. 

Sloats rule. 

The night before he left. I'm praying they didn't take his sense of humor.