The Most Perfect Day —EJHill


Twenty-eight days. In 28 days I will have the best most miserable day of my existence. In 28 days I will hug my oldest son, hold him as tightly and as long as I am permitted to, and then not see him again until the end of summer. In 28 days he ships out to Parris Island.

This Monday morning finds him starting his last full week of normal high school classes. Exams come the following week and graduation is on the 27th. Everything my wife and I have strove for, hoped for, and prayed for comes due, to produce a young man that can be unleashed upon the world and capable of standing on his own two feet. Eighteen years of worry, of hospital bills and baseball shoes, of french fries and Frosted Flakes, of homework fights and freezing track meets, all of it reduced to the pageantry and the anticipation of the next 28 days.

Baseball & anchorYesterday, on day 29, my son and I got in the car and drove the four hours to Cincinnati to take in a ballgame. No Mom, no siblings, just the two of us. It was the first time we had done this alone since he was nine.

We talked baseball, women, and politics. We talked of the past and a lot about the future. We talked about fear and finding that thing inside each of us that gets us through this day and on to the next.

We talked until there was almost nothing left to talk about. Four hours down, six hours in the city and four hours back. We laughed, we teared up a little, we cheered a comeback win in extra innings.

It was, simply put, the most perfect day. The most perfect day as I had imagined it 18 years ago when the doctor said, “It’s a boy!” The most perfect day that will get me through the next 28 and all the days after, the most perfect day that puts my little boy to sleep and the most perfect day to wake up my strapping young man.

The most perfect day indeed.

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  1. user_407430 Contributor

    My oldest is only 4, and I already look ahead to days like that.

    • #1
  2. user_517406 Inactive

    Perfect days for me are whenever I get to be with Rachel’s boys.  I hope some perfect days with your boy’s boys are in your future, EJ!  Congratulations on raising a fine young man who likes to spend a perfect day with his Dad.

    • #2
  3. Caleb J. Jones Inactive
    Caleb J. Jones

    My most sincere and heartiest congratulations to you and your son! To him, farewell and may he enjoy fair winds and following seas as one of the Few, the Proud, the US Marines. God bless you both.

    • #3
  4. user_379896 Coolidge

    Welcome to the world of Marine Dads.

    • #4
  5. PsychLynne Inactive

    Thank you and your wife, for raising such a dedicated and wonderful young man.

    • #5
  6. user_1700 Coolidge

    Beautifully said. Thank you, EJ.

    • #6
  7. iWc Coolidge

    G-d bless you and yours.

    • #7
  8. Sandy Member

    I suppose life could be said to be made up of a series of “hellos” and “goodbyes,” some great, some not-so-great.  We do only borrow these children for awhile, and yet they are part of us body and soul, and aren’t we blessed.  Well done, thou good and faithful parents.

    • #8
  9. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart

    Having seen four children off to military basic training (1 Air Force, 3 Army) I empathize. Given the current top civilian and military leadership, it is pretty worrisome.

    It will hopefully not turn out to be the worst day when you look back on it in years to come.

    I don’t know what the rules are for Marine Basic, but unless absolutely prohibited, get him a cheap pre-paid cell phone to take with him. Currently at Army Basic, they have to turn them in but in later weeks can have them for an hour if they and their unit’s performance has been acceptable.

    • #9
  10. Patrickb63 Coolidge

    Congratulations, Dad.  And good job.

    • #10
  11. user_10225 Member

    Wonderful, EJ. Our gratitude goes out to your son, for his service, and to your family as he begins his journey.

    Here’s to many more most perfect days.

    • #11
  12. EJHill Podcaster

    Nick Stuart:  I don’t know what the rules are for Marine Basic…

     We’ll receive a 10-second scripted phone call on the night of his arrival. After that it’s radio silence and snail mail only. 

    Right now he’s just a bundle of conflict and self-doubt – you know, a teenager. I feel blessed that he feels he can talk and be open with me. I came home and felt like putting on my Ozzie Nelson cardigan. 

    We all feel the world is crumbling most of the time. I spent an entire day away from the internet, ignored the world and made a moment. I shared because I think we all need to do that every now and then. There are still perfect days to be had.

    • #12
  13. user_7742 Inactive

    Thanks for sharing EJ. That was perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve read here on Ricochet and why Ricochet is so different than any other site on the Internet. Your son is fortunate to have such a role model to look up to. All the best.

    • #13
  14. user_6236 Member

    Posts like this are what sets this place apart.  Thank you, EJ.  Prayers and well wishes for you, your son, and your whole family.

    • #14
  15. user_333118 Inactive

    Thank you, Mr. Hill!
    Your post stirred up memories for me;  the following seemed apropos, and was written by General Douglas MacArthur:

    “Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid;  one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.
    Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be;  a son who will know Thee.  Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge.  Here let him learn to stand up in the storm;  here let him learn compassion for those who fail.
    Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high;  a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men;  one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep;  one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
    And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously.  Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
    Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain.” “

    • #15
  16. EJHill Podcaster

    Barbara – You shouldn’t make a grown man cry so early on a Monday.

    • #16
  17. Moderator


    Right now he’s just a bundle of conflict and self-doubt – you know, a teenager. I feel blessed that he feels he can talk and be open with me. I came home and felt like putting on my Ozzie Nelson cardigan.

    He can talk and be open with you because he loves and respects you. Someday when he has children of his own he will be the father to them that you were to him. I can think of no better legacy than that.

    • #17
  18. Instugator Thatcher

    Almost 4 years ago, and 26 years to the day that I left home – I traveled with my son to the US Merchant Marine Academy. There was a nice ‘reception’ for parents and prospective Midshipmen the day before the official ‘reporting in’ – good burgers and a quick tour of the facilities.

    I remember feeling sad when I dropped him off in the morning – then the yelling started and inexplicably I felt better. I guess I knew someone was looking after him and I could pass the baton. In a little over 6 weeks, we will travel out to Long Island for commencement.

    • #18
  19. skipsul Inactive

    My neighbor sent his eldest off to the Navy last year.  The two tried to pack in all sorts of father son activities those last few weeks, the parting was difficult.

    • #19
  20. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue


    Barbara – You shouldn’t make a grown man cry so early on a Monday.

     I was going to say that to you EJ!- But instead thanks to both of you. 

    • #20
  21. user_124695 Inactive

    Thanks for not bringing up a pajama boy, EJ – he sounds like a real man to proud of  – and thank him for his service :-)

    • #21
  22. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy

    A Staff Sgt. and two Corporals came into McDonald’s this weekend in Blues (a recruiting station is right down the road).  My son asked me who they were:

    • They’re Marines, son.
    • Ah… I thought they were soldiers.
    • #22
  23. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum

    Beautiful, EJ…Thank you!  Prayers and “SF!” to you all – ’til you tell me to stop.

    • #23
  24. Grendel Member

    Congratulations, E.J.
    My kids knew that I valued my hitch in the Army, but I never pushed my son to follow suit, so I was surprised and delighted when he announced he was enlisting in the Marines when he graduated from high school.  It actually started at the end of his junior year.  He was in a pre-induction program run by the recruiting office (he tutored other enlistees) and worked out with the school’s Marine PT Team to get in shape.  
    He’s in grad school now, a corporal, and almost done with his reserve obligation.

    p.s.Send short letters, and not too few.  He won’t have time to read much.

    • #24
  25. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy

    Beautiful, E.J.


    • #25
  26. Annefy Member

    Assume he will be at Pendleton? We are not too far, if he ever needs anything please give us a holler. Happy to help If we can. 

    God speed to your son. And give his mom a hug. Those weeks with no contact are tough.

    • #26
  27. Percival Thatcher

    Hartmann von Aue:


    Barbara – You shouldn’t make a grown man cry so early on a Monday.

    I was going to say that to you EJ!- But instead thanks to both of you.

     Hear, hear.

    • #27
  28. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl

    I sent my “baby boy” off to Navy boot camp a couple of years ago, and it was harsh…for me. He was so proud of himself. He’s doing great now, in a submarine as a sonar tech. It’s still harsh for me…motherhood: You know you’re successful if the kids grow up and don’t need you anymore. His Navy vet dad is button-busting proud, too. 

    Good luck E.J. He’ll be fine and you can pray for him daily to sooth your fears. What great parents you are to have a son like that.

    • #28
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