Today we are pleased to have Ben Cameron visiting with us at Blogging on the Beach. He is the hero of Skye Taylor’s latest book, Loving Meg and the third son (by mere minutes) of Sandy and Nathan Cameron of Tide’s Way, North Carolina. The baby of the family, Jake Cameron, was with us earlier this year when his book, Falling for Zoe, came out, and Will, Ben’s identical twin, will hopefully stop by for a visit next year when Trusting Will is released.
So - Welcome, Ben. We know you grew up in Tides’s Way and come from a big family, that you’re married, to Meg, of course, and have two sons, Rick and Evan. But who is Ben Cameron? Tell us about yourself.
You know, my wife and I had a discussion about that not so long ago. She seemed to think that my job was who I was, but I think I got her turned around. At least I hope I have. Meg is the light of my life. She has been since I first met her. She was my best friend’s kid sister, and I had to pretend we were just friends for the first few years because I was way too old for her. But it was worth the wait. We’ve been married for ten years come next June and I can’t imagine life without her. Being a dad is another big part of who I am. Until Rick was born I never had a clue how terrific fatherhood could be. I have a fantastic dad of my own, but being a dad is even better.
What do you do for a living?
I raise and train German Shepherds for police work. It does keep me pretty busy, but I love working with the dogs, and I love seeing them succeed. I’ve got a new project in mind, too. It’s a long story how I got involved, and I’m sure that’s not what you’re interested in here so I’ll skip to the punch line. I want to enlarge my operation to include training dogs to work with returned veterans who are struggling with PTSD and other disabilities brought on in their service to our country. It’s be awhile before I can get it up and running, but eventually I want to have a home where the veterans will come to be paired with their dogs and training can happen. From what I’ve discovered having a service dog often can make the difference that all the drugs and psychiatric work can’t in helping these guys get their lives back, and I can’t think of anything more rewarding that making that happen.
Didn’t Meg just return from Iraq. She’s been in the Marines for most of your married life, but this was her first overseas deployment. That must have been difficult for you and the boys. What was the hardest part for you?
All of it. (Ben shakes his head and a cloud passes over his face.) I hated watching the news. It just made me more afraid than I already was. I knew she was out there, accompanying conveys along roads that those bas— sorry, terrorists love to booby trap with IEDs. So, I didn’t watch the news, and I tried to stay busy and not worry. But the hardest part was probably the nights. She tried to call as often as she could,and she’d time it when she knew I was climbing into bed. I’d lay there in the dark, clutching the phone to my ear, listening to her voice and wishing desperately that she was laying next to me instead, and that the nightmare of her being gone and in danger was over.
Have you ever told Meg that?
Yeah. I’ve told her, but I’m not sure she understood how really hard it was for me being left behind while she went off to conquer her world. I told Will, too. He’s my twin you know. He’s the other half of me. I told him everything. Or most everything.
What’s it like being an identical twin?
You mean being the other half of me? (Ben chuckles) Will says the same thing. He thinks I’m the better half and if only he could be a little more like me, he’d be a better man. But I think it’s the other way around. Will is a lot like Meg and I admire that – that ability to strike out into the unknown – to take on a task that seems far bigger than it might have seemed at the start. Something bigger than just themselves, but they stick it out. They put themselves out there and do jobs others can’t. Me? I’ve been on the same path all my life. Everyone, including me, knew where I was going with my life since I was just a kid. And there wasn’t anything dangerous or adventurous about it.
What started you on your path in life so early?
You sure you want to hear this? It’s not all that exciting. Not when compared to the places Meg’s been.
Well, when I was maybe nine or ten someone gave my dad this dog, Taffy. We’d always had dogs as long as I could remember, usually more than one at a time, and Dad was always the one who trained them. But Taffy just seemed like she was going to break him. I think she was a golden retriever, but so inbred there’s no doubt where her less than stellar brain capacity came from. She had one ear that popped up and flopped over half way up – the other hung down like a retriever’s is supposed to. It gave her this really silly goober look. Very fitting, considering.
Anyway, one day Dad was trying to teach her to stay. He’d take her out to this spot about 20 feet from the front steps and tell her to sit. She was great at sit. Then he’d give her the signal and verbal command to stay and he’d turn his back on her and come over to the steps. By the time he got there and turned around she was right behind him grinning up at him as if he’d told her to follow instead of stay. Finally, I asked Dad if I could try. He handed me the leash and said go to it. Neither of us really expected much. But I walked out to the magic spot and told her to sit, put my hand in front of her nose and said stay as sternly as I could with my little kid’s voice and headed back to the porch. Dad was sitting with his elbows resting on the step behind him watching, but even before I got to him, he sat up and looked from me to somewhere behind me. I turned around expecting to see Taffy right on my heels like she’d been on dad’s every time. But I was gobsmacked. She was still sitting where I’d left her. I called her and she dashed toward me so fast she ran me down. And that was when me and everyone else knew I’d end up training dogs for a living.
Marrying Meg was another thing everyone knew long before it happened. Long before Meg knew it anyway. I grew up in my parents house by the sea and I told them I was always going to live there too. I saw this spot of land when I was still in college. I didn’t have scratch for money, but I begged my dad to give me the down payment and I worked two jobs all through college to make the mortgage payments. So, you see, Will and I are like the other half of each other. He’s Alpha. I’m Beta. He’s the adventurous one. He’s impatient to see new things, go new places, meet new people all the while I’m living the life I planned out years ago. I’m so settled down I can’t imagine life any other way. Will’s still trying out every new extreme sport that catches his fancy and dating lots of really nice ladies but not settling for just one. Although I really hope he finds his Miss Right. I’d like him to have what I have with Meg.
I know you’re a busy man with things to do and places to go, even if they aren’t far from home or dangerous, so I’ll let you go. But we’ve enjoyed having you. Thanks for coming.
It was my pleasure. Thanks for having me.