Surrender 48: Belated Birthday Post for Eric

I wished my nephew Eric a happy birthday on the actual date of his birth, January 12. At that time, early in my new journey for this year, I had not yet made the decision to do a blog post for every family member. By the end of January, as we celebrated Eric’s younger daughter Aralyn, I thought how fun it would be to write a post for each person in my family, on his or her special day. With that decision came the realization that in our sprawling and growing family, I had missed one person already. This is Eric’s birthday post, belated but heart felt nonetheless. 


Eric Mitchell Miller is the younger son of my sister Linda. His birth evened up the grandchildren in the family, giving my mother three granddaughters and three grandsons. 

He may have been the youngest in the family, at that time, however he was always a force to be reckoned with! Eric not only had no problems keeping up with his older brother and his cousins, he wasn’t all that concerned with keeping up with them anyway. As a kid, he was his own unique person, a boy who fearlessly forged his path through life, whether that was doing stunts on the backyard swing set or creating a distinctive fashion statement. Cowboy boots and shorts were always appropriate attire for Eric as a youngster. 

 Eric between his brother Scott and his cousin Nate.  

Eric is still intently following the path of his choosing, as a handsome young man, although it’s been years since I’ve seen him in shorts and cowboy boots. He’s conscientious and loyal, determined and smart, and unafraid to stand firmly for what he deeply believes in. His quiet strength and level head make him an excellent police officer. He serves and protects in the same police department as his cousin. 

Eric has a beautiful wife, Tosh, and two adorable little girls, London and Aralyn. He is unfazed by his household of ladies. Rather, they have captivated his heart, and his desire to love and protect them is evident in his actions. 

My nephew loves music, playing guitar, and attending concerts when he can, of his favorite band. He enjoys order in his life, and yet he also knows how to cut loose and have fun. He loves his job. Most of all, he loves his family. And I love him. The gutsy and independent little boy has grown into a courageous and independent young man. Shine on, nephew. And happy birthday again. 


Surrender 30: Happy Birthday Aralyn

Today family members gathered to celebrate Aralyn Miller, who turned two last Monday. It takes a certain amount of courage, and indeed surrender, to throw open the door of your home and  welcome in a boisterous crowd intent on partying. My nephew Eric and his wife Tosh possess both, and graciously invited us all in. They were marvelous hosts for the special event. 

The birthday girl was pretty in pink, her hair in adorable braids, her outfit matching the party theme of My Little Pony. Aralyn was accepting of having so many people in her home, her bright eyes taking it all in. She wasted no time in requesting cake, officially kicking off the party. 


Cupcakes artfully created the My Little Pony birthday “cake”. After we sang Happy Birthday, Aralyn blew out the candle, with a little help from her mommy. Party goers lined up for a cupcake and a scoop of ice cream, kids settling together on the kitchen floor while adults enjoyed the delicious cake in the living room. Aralyn occupied the dining room, perched like a princess in her chair, creating perfect photo ops as she sampled her birthday treat. 



And then it was right on to opening presents. With encouragement from her big sister, London, and cousin Aubrey, Aralyn revealed her surprises, exclaiming over stuffed unicorns, a bright purse and beaded necklace, and an assortment of toys and cute outfits. She’s inquisitive, this gorgeous girl, and it was fun to watch her toss tissue paper as she delved into gift bags and carefully rip away wrapping paper to uncover the prizes within. She paused at appropriate intervals, flashing a smile as she said “Cheeeeese” for the cameras.




The final gift was a little pink tricycle, which Aralyn immediately tried out. It won’t be long at all before she is pedaling her trike down the sidewalk, as mommy or daddy or sister London trot along behind her. 



I’m an observer of people, learning a great deal about those I study. And watching Aralyn today, as she enjoyed her party, this is what I learned. She is a very bright girl. Although she’s only just turned two years old, she has a keen ability to observe as well, and figure things out. She’s extremely well behaved, a testament to her parents, while still being playful. I laughed as she created a teasing game with her cousin Weston, her little face as mischievous as it was beautiful. 


She’s a thinker, with much going on beneath the surface. I only have to look into her big eyes to sense the depths of her perceptions, which she is just beginning to articulate. After the party, as some of us had dinner together at Applebee’s, she had a conversation with me that showed how well she is able to connect events. When waiters sang Happy Birthday to a diner, and I explained what they were doing, Aralyn related that to her own birthday celebration earlier, and then proceeded to list those who had attended her party. I was impressed! 

What a happy day, and what a special, happy girl. I look forward to watching Aralyn grow,  expanding in knowledge and beauty, never losing that spark of joy and mischief in her eyes. There’s great potential in this girl. As I left the party, I paused to give her a hug and a kiss, as she swung on the porch swing with her Gigi. “Happy birthday, Aralyn,” I whispered. “Happy birthday, Yaya,” she answered back with a smile. She’s polite too! That melted my heart. I love you, little one. 


Journey 136: National Police Week

National police week

Today marks the end of National Police Week. Created in 1962, by President Kennedy, May 15 is specifically set aside each year as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Established by a joint resolution of Congress, National Police Week recognizes the courage and sacrifice made by law enforcement officers and honors those who have fallen in the line of duty, while protecting and serving others.

Earlier this month was National Nurses Week. This past week, National Police Week. I have a child in both professions. My daughter is a nurse. My son, Nate, serves and protects his community as a police officer and I have a nephew, Eric, who serves as well. These fine young men take their jobs seriously as protectors of the pubic and keepers of peace. My son has wanted to be a police officer since he was a small boy, practicing, learning, studying for years before he ever donned a uniform and fastened on a badge.

Nate honor guard 2e2

I have ridden along with my son while he was on duty, and I am so proud of his dedication in serving his community, protecting others and backing up the other officers on duty. I’ve watched as he showed compassion, kindness and concern toward those he has stopped, and offered help to the needy and destitute. He operates out of his heart, rather than his head, but he doesn’t hesitate to step into the role of firm authoritarian if that is what is needed, for the safety and well being of all concerned. Nate is often the first on the scene of a crisis, and I can’t imagine a man better able to handle those difficult situations with efficiency, knowledge and care than he does.

Nate in car e


On behalf of my son and nephew and the many police officers that I know, I found these helpful tips on keeping officers and the public safe. We can assist these keepers of the peace, who have families at home, depending on them, or hinder them in doing their jobs, which are challenging enough at the best of times.

1. Focus on driving. Don’t text or talk on your cell phone, hunt for items in your purse or allow yourself to become distracted.

2. Give officers room on the roadway. Pull to the right or stop for emergency vehicles.

3. Move over for stopped police cars. When you see a stopped police car, slow down, and move one lane away from the stop, if possible.

4. Watch officers’ hands as they are directing traffic, obeying their signals.

5. Only drive when sober. Drinking and driving causes fatalities, to other drivers and to police officers.

6. Drive within the speed limit. Speeding puts others at risk.

7. Keep volume on radio and phones at a reasonable level, so that you can hear approaching emergency vehicles.

8. Don’t wear headphones while you drive. See above.

9. Report drunk drivers or drivers behaving erratically. You might prevent a tragedy.

10. If you are pulled over by a police officer, stay in the car, roll your window down, keep your hands where they can be seen, such as on the steering wheel. Place your vehicle in park, turn radio off and if it is at night, turn on the interior car light. Be prepared to show your driver’s license and proof of insurance. Be respectful.

National police week badge

I am honored to have a son who serves and protects, and a nephew as well. I am glad there is a week set aside to honor the courage and commitment of police officers across the nation, and to remember those who have fallen while protecting their communities. These men and women make a difference in our cities and towns, and in our lives. We can make a difference in theirs. The next time you encounter an officer, because of a car stop or accident, or you see them eating lunch or stopping to help someone in need, smile and thank him or her for their dedication and their willingness to serve. It might be my son smiling back at you.

National police week heroes