August 21 , 2005
It is just after midnight Brazil time and I am headed home to Reno . I have been with my friend Cesar all week in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo , Brazil . I spoke at the XI Fórum Nacional de Logistica e Seminario Internacional on Monday morning at the opening General session, appeared on a couple of panels, talked to the CSCMP (old CLM) roundtable in Sao Paolo on Friday, hung out with Cesar and his two lovely daughters in Rio today, and now am headed home. I got the chance to be with many great people down there including Professor Paolo Fleury, his wife Juliana and their little girl, and of course, my old buddy Cesar and his family. It was a great week and the closest thing to a vacation I am probably going to get this summer. As you can see, it has been quite awhile since my last posting. I have not been to Lake Tahoe once this summer because I have been traveling so much and caught up in things at the University.
I am headed home on Sammy's birthday. Samuel Stewart Rogers was born on August 21, 1992. That makes him 13 today. So, now we have four teenage boys. Zac is 18, Ben is 16, Tre is 15, and Sam is 13. Jaesa is 9 and a long way from being a teenager – at least in years. She is not so far away in ways that are hard for me to keep up with as her father.
It seems like not very long ago that Sam was born. He was born on the Friday before the University of Nevada started up for the fall semester. He was the biggest of all our kids at 8 lbs 15 ozs. He was so big that he broke his collarbone on the way out of the birth canal. I think his mother was wounded a little bit. During his birth, I remember his mother very clearly stating that perhaps I should keep a good distance from her because she really did not think she was going to have any more of my children. At least, she was not planning on having any more kids like this one. And she didn't. Jaesa almost fell out on the way to the hospital three-and-a-half years later. I was worried that Jaesa's head might bounce off of the hospital floor before Deana got to the delivery room.
But Sam was different. I think he broke his right collarbone. When he came out screaming and waving wildly at everything with his left hand, I thought he might be another southpaw with strong lungs like his big brother Ben. He does have strong lungs at everyone does at my house, but he is really right-handed. He just wasn't that day.
The Monday after Sam was born I think I left to go teach my classes. We only had one car at the time – a 4-cylinder 1989 Ford Taurus that really was not suited for mountain travel– and I drove away leaving my poor wife with four boys 5 years old and younger. Years later when one of my colleagues canceled his classes and took the entire week off when his wife had their first child, I said to Deana, “He should be tougher. I don't think I would have done that.” She said “You didn't.” I don't think she meant that in a good way.
The week after Sam was born, his oldest brother Zac headed off to his first day of kindergarten. His little brothers Ben and Tre stood by the mailbox and watched him head to the bus stop. Ben was thinking that he needed to accompany his big brother and Tre just stood there smiling and waving. We had four little boys.
Sam has always loved his three big brothers and his little sister. And his big brothers were thrilled to get another little brother. They assigned him a Ninja Turtle character (I think Raphael) before he was home from the hospital. Before Sam could even move he was included in their Ninja Turtle “programs” and their “brothers” game. I never fully understood the “brothers” game but I believe each one of the Rogers ' boys along with their friend Jonathan (who turned 17 on Saturday, August 20) had a secret (from the parents) superhero identity. I think Zac was “Zoomin' Z” and Sam was “Slippery S.” Jonny might have been “Jammin' J” and I can't remember the others. I am sure that Benjamin was something scary, though. I really never knew what their superpowers were. But I did know that it was a cool game in which to be included.
The kids included Sam as one of them right from the beginning. They were not selfish or mean. He couldn't even move and he was included in their games. They have kept him and his little sister included even now.
In fact, Deana and I are both amazed at how well the kids get along with each other and with their friends. We often hear the same thing from other parents about out children. We are tremendously proud about how kind they are to each other.
They look out for each other. They applaud each others' victories and give solace when there are hurts. I would imagine they will continue to do so long after I am dead which is reassuring. The reassuring part is not that I will be dead; it is that they will still be a family after I am gone.
I have always dreamed about a “nation of Rogers ” like the Kennedy family always wanted to be a “nation of Kennedys.” I have always seen myself as fitting comfortably into a “Abraham-like” patriarchal role. (I guess that makes my dad “ Ur of the Chaldees.” I don't know why that is so funny to me, but it is. Dad passed away almost five years ago, but if he was alive it would be fun to call him “ Ur .”) As you probably know, Abraham was the father of many nations. He was the patriarch of both the Jews and the Arabs. Hopefully, my children and their children will get along better than Abraham's have. Based on how they are now, it seems like they will.
So, Four Teenagers…
It is amazing how much four teenage boys can eat. It sounds crazy, but we go to the grocery store everyday. Deana told me that last night she sent Zac to Albertson's. He said to her, “Mom, if you ever need me to go to the grocery store I will. I like going there.” She told him that he could probably go everyday. She had already been there twice yesterday and she was ready for someone else to make the trip.
Their friends can also eat. I love it when there are about 10 boys at my house rummaging around looking for food. Once they find it, they usually sit down at the table and consume it quickly. I often sit at the table while they are at our house. I love telling stories and hearing about football or girls or teachers or the dumb war in Iraq or Halo 2 – well, not so much Halo 2 – but I really enjoy the loudness and the laughter and all of the sounds of a house full of teenagers and their friends.
I can't believe I am the father of four teenage boys. I know the time that they live with us will pass quickly. In less than two years Zac will be 20 and I don't know for sure that he will be sitting at the table every night then. Actually, he is not sitting there much already and neither am I, but I do not want this time to end soon.
When I was a kid, we used to play football on the front lawn at our house at 3418 Palmer Street in Lansing , Michigan . Much to the chagrin of one neighbor, our lawn was always torn up. He didn't like me much or the fact that we occasionally – about every five minutes – spilled over onto his lawn with one type of ball or another. My parents did not care about the lawn and knew that someday it would be totally green and lush. Thirty years later, it is green and lush. But we are all gone and it is much quieter there. It has been very quiet since my father “ Ur ” passed away. I know that day is coming when our house will be quieter but I am not in a hurry for it to get here. I want it to be loud as long at is can be.
When I get home later this morning I am sure that things will be crazy at our house. We will celebrate Sam's 13 th birthday and I will marvel at how all of the kids got so big so fast. It seems like only yesterday I saw Ben and Tre waving at their big brother Zac as he headed off to Kindergarten.
It might make me cry.
Happy birthday, Sam. We love you.