It started out like any other day. As I headed out the door to go to work, Shirlene (my trophy wife) reminded me that she had a graduation exercise that she needed to attend at the university, so she would be late coming home.
That was fine with me; I am not a big birthday celebrator, especially when they are mine. My week was packed, and I had deadlines looming for the hurricane town hall meeting, an item I had placed on the city council agenda, and, of course, my weekly column. We were planning a weekend trip to visit my dad, so a few extra hours at the office were needed anyway.
Shirlene called me about 8:20 and said she was headed home. She said she had picked up a couple of steaks, and that our son Robert would be joining us for a late birthday supper. She asked that I make a salad and start the grill.
I got home at about 9 p.m.; Shirlene was just minutes behind. I fired up the grill and put the steaks on, and Shirlene and I started to talk about our day.
Shirlene went downstairs, and I heard a blood-curdling scream. Not the type of scream one would expect from being startled, but a long, chilling shriek followed by a string of “Oh my Gods!”
My heart sank. My oldest son, C.J. is in Iraq and his unit has been dealing with increased violence in his sector. My first thought was that it was a notification team coming to tell us something had happened to him.
I immediately started toward the stairs and down to the front door. As I got closer, the screams turned to giggles and then explosive laughter.
Whew, I thought, it was someone stopping by for a late visit.
On the front porch was the best birthday present ever: There stood C.J., his wife Ashley and their two dogs. He was alive, healthy, and grinning from ear to ear. I didn’t know if I should hug him or kill him for taking 10 years off my already depleting life (I opted for the hug).
We had a great visit, albeit too short. He returned to Iraq five days later.
This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day. For some of you, it is just an excuse to go to the beach. But for many of us, it is a reminder of those who fought and continue to fight for our country.
Whether you agree or disagree with the politics of war, I hope that you will pause for just a moment to say thank you to the men and women that have answered the call to keep our country safe. Say a prayer for them, their families and those who are no longer able to celebrate their birthdays.
Scott Burroughs is chief of police of Port Aransas. Reach him at sburroughs@ci tyofaransaspass.org or (361)