On August 20th I posted about my daughter, Dixie Lee, heading off to college. Less than a month later, on September 14th, her brother Pätrick Henry Cripps departed for Marines Boot Camp. The next one to go will be Nathaniel, who has initiated paperwork with the Air Force. It’s starting to get eerily quiet around the homestead.

Pätrick is my fourth out of five sons. He has the distinction of being my most difficult child, but only because he is the most like me. I’m not saying Pätrick is a bad kid, far from it. He just needed more attention than the others. His Marines recruiter referred to him as a “unicorn,” a rare recruit. He said Pätrick didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. He had no criminal record, not even a traffic violation. He was intelligent, and an honor student in high school. He was healthy and fit, and passed the initial fitness exam with flying colors. The recruiter said this was extremely rare. Yes, Pätrick Henry is an incredible young man!

All my children grew up with nicknames. Pätrick, for some reason, ended up with several. The one that stuck was “Pocky,” and that’s the one most everyone uses. It doesn’t have any particular meaning, but is close in pronunciation to his real name. You will note the “a diaeresis,” or “umlaut.” This was given to clarify that his name is pronounced “Pah-trick.” You see, he is named after the great Virginia patriot, Patrick Henry. Back in the day, Mr. Henry would always correct people mispronouncing his name. He would say, “It’s ‘Pah-trick’, not ‘Pat-rick’, I’m Scottish, not Irish.” I thought if it meant that much to our hero, I should follow suite. Pätrick has always enjoyed the uniqueness that came with the decision.

I spent a lot of time with my children as they were growing up. Being self-employed, and working at home, made it easy. Pocky was a bit different from the other three of his youngest siblings. He would follow me around all day, and want to participate in whatever I was doing. His grandfather used to call him my “shadow.” I did a lot of construction and remodeling around the property, and Pätrick was always right there, either watching or being an extra set of hands. For his 11th birthday, he wanted his own tools. As a young boy, he always wanted to sit in my lap while I bushhogged the pastures. By the time he was 11, he was mowing the pastures with my smaller tractor. He couldn’t reach the throttle, so I had to rig things for him. Even in my office, Pocky had to be around during work hours. The other children had their computers in their bedrooms, but he wanted to be next to me when I worked. I had to set him up with his own workstation.

Just like his dad, Pätrick loves music. He is a dyed-in-the-wool rocker too.  For his 12th birthday, I bought him a set of Tama drums, and started lessons for him at Magnolia Music Center. His instructor said he had more natural talent than his other students, and was one of the few that actually practiced between lessons. His love of percussion led him to join the High School band at West Marion, and later Stone High. He was quick at his rudiments and wanted to start on snare drum, but had never learned to play with traditional grip. He ended up on cymbals, later to switch to bass drum.

As much time as Pocky spent with me, it is no surprise that he ended up wanting a career in computers. He also has that same kinesthetic makeup which led him down the road of working on everyone’s computers…tearing them apart and putting them back together. For his senior project in high school, he built a computer from scratch and documented the process. I had begun the paperwork to enroll him in college this semester when I got a knock at the door. When I answered, there was Pätrick standing with a soldier in uniform…

As we sat down at the table, the recruiter informed me that my son wanted to join the Marines. I never saw that coming. Pocky later explained to me that joining the military made a lot of sense to him. He said his brother had completed three years in college with a Technical Degree in Graphics Design, and an Associates Degree in Applied Science…but had yet to find a job. He said the job market was so poor he thought about another approach. Pocky said he could do four years in the Marines and afterwards go to college. He mentioned he would not only be paid a nice salary, but all his housing, utilities, meals and medical would be covered. He said his plan was to send most of his money back home to a savings account. He also liked the idea of traveling the world, and would be asking for a foreign assignment. The young man had it all thought out. How can you argue against that? I asked him why the Marines instead of the Air Force, like everyone else in the family. He simply answered, “The Marines are bad ass.”

We are all very proud of him. He has taken the initiative to step out into the world and make a life for himself. As I write this, I sit in a comfortable chair in an air conditioned office. As for Pätrick, he is feeling the heat and excruciating pain of Parris Island Boot Camp. He is probably asking himself, “Why did I volunteer for this?” Some will wash out before completing Boot Camp, but not Pocky. It is not the Cripps Way. The next time I see him, he will be a Marine in uniform. I will be the proudest dad in the world!

Some notes on the photo pages below:

1. The Many Faces of Pätrick Henry Cripps: When Pocky was young, most of his photos were with goofball faces. He had the biggest eyes you’d ever see on a child. It was like the sad-faced Puss-n-Boots in the Shrek movie. As he got older he became very photogenic, and popular with the girls.

2. The Many Hairstyles of Pätrick Henry Cripps: Pätrick has always been a rocker. When he was 11 years old he began to let his hair grown out. By the time he became a teenager his hair was almost down to his bum. He looked like an American Indian with his perfectly straight dark hair. After joining the West Marion Trojans Band, he opted for a Mohawk cut. This week he is sporting a military buzz cut.

3. The Boy Loves the Water: Looking back I was amazed at how many photos were from various beaches and creeks, swimming pools, and the Gulf of Mexico.

4. Fort Pickens, Florida – A Favorite Spot: Pocky loves old forts and battlefields. Over the years I have taken him to several. His favorites are Fort Pickens and Vicksburg.

5. Various Travels: We used to go to the Audubon Zoo and/or Aquarium in New Orleans almost every year. It was another family fun adventure all the children enjoyed. There are also photos from Universal Studios, U.S.S. Alabama, our property in Tennessee, various concerts and festivals, and our recent cruise to the Yucatan Peninsula.

6. Pätrick – Worker and Sleeper: As mentioned above, Pocky has always been a big help to me around the farm and boy does he love to sleep. We all used to say he could fall asleep standing up. He used to sit in my lap while I was bushhogging. After about 2 minutes, he was out.

7. Marines Boot Camp: The last page is seeing him off to Boot Camp. He departed from Hattiesburg, Mississippi September 14, 2014.


***See Dixie’s Page…
Coming Soon – Nathaniel departs to the Air Force