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My Father

Master Sergeant Keith and Baby Brother Charlie Byrd

This morning I ate breakfast with Jiryu and his son Franky. Hot tomato drink, Tempe Cabbage, and brown rice cream; Franky ate his with salt and sesame seeds, I had sugar and milk.

Breakfast is silent during the practice period. Franky, at almost 2yrs old, has developed his own forms, which include a lot of forehead to forehead, big bright eyes, and a huge smile. As he fed his father little chunks of tempe and played, I saw some of my own father in Jiryu's shaved head, black clothing, salty look.

My Dad was very salty, but not with Zen temple gomasio, but salt from the sea, as he put in 21 years a Marine. I remember very early mornings when he would be shining in his cook whites, his mat black metal sergeant chevrons on his collar, and same playful demeanor, while holding something very heavy up- the tradition of the Marine Corps, the long work day ahead of him, his worry of being deployed or sent to float again.

I also remember floating with him, out in the pacific ocean while we were at Camp Pendelton, snuggled on his chest on a raft in the middle of it all and tracing with my little fingers the sparrows tattooed on his chest. He earned those sparrows when he floated across the equator without the family, while we floated on base without him.

Warm salty tears. Boundless love.

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