Courtesy of Steve Eaton
Steve Eaton has put himself in charge of Elder Jackson Eaton's post-mission life.

There are just 21 days, 7 hours, 17 minutes and 25 seconds left. That’s how long it is until my son, Jackson, returns. For nearly two years he has been on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My wife and son don’t like me to throw out those numbers. I have an app in my iPhone counting down the minutes and seconds. My wife feels that to get involved in a countdown will make her wish away the precious few days he has left, and she wants him to be doing exactly what he’s doing. My son gets crazy, even via letters, if you talk about the end of his mission. He says he loves serving the people of New Mexico and he tries to pretend that he is never coming home.

I think he’s just a little nervous about his return, but he shouldn’t be because I am in charge of his post-mission life. I’ve got everything planned out for him. It’s going to be awesome.

I have selected three potential candidates for him to marry, two if Jennifer Love Hewitt is already married. He just has to pick one.

(My daughter, Sara, has picked out someone too, but her choice doesn’t count because my daughter is a girl. Women are no good at picking out women for men to date.)

Two of the women I have picked out have external and internal beauty. If Jennifer Love Hewitt is available, she’s good looking and he’ll have the option of marrying someone who can talk to ghosts.

Of course, it’s true that at first he may want to date on his own. But he’ll soon realize that finding the right woman is not easy.

Someone told me when I got back from my mission to make a list of the qualities I hoped to find in a wife. I created an excellent list. I left off one critical qualification, however, and it caused me much heartache and confusion. I discovered, through perplexing trial and error, that it’s helpful if the woman you pick has some interest in marrying you. I also found out it can be very problematic if she’s created her own list and expects you to have actual qualities, too.

And Jackson need not worry about his transition back into the world of art and literature because I plan to reintroduce him to all the stuff he missed. For example, he hasn’t seen the latest Batman or Star Trek movies. I’m eager to see his reaction to the latest Superman film. I want to see how long it takes him to notice how much I look like the new guy who plays Superman. I think it freaked people out when I went to the theater to see the movie. I just walked in, with a broad smile on my face, and waved to everyone, even blowing kisses at some of the women. They acted like they didn’t know what to think.

I’m excited to show him this one scene in the movie “The Avengers,” where the Incredible Hulk meets the uppity bad guy who thinks he is a god. The Hulk listens to the snobby bad guy for about five seconds and then grabs him and smashes him back and forth on the ground like a rag doll. It’s one of the greatest scenes in all of moviedumb.

I want to see if he immediately sees, like me, the possible benefits of the American people hiring our own Incredible Hulk to work in Washington, D.C. He would be tasked with imposing strict time limits on politicians and swift punishments for baloney talk. C-Span ratings would go through the roof.

When I found out that missionaries are not supposed to read the newspaper because they aren’t to be distracted by the things of the world, I came up with a plan. Instead of sending him news stories, I just sent him misleading headlines and made up my own stories to go with them. Usually my version was better than the truth anyway.

In some cases, I slipped in reality when it was stranger than anything I could make up. He was surprised, for example, when he figured out that a movie really had been released called, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” I suspect it made him wonder just how much of what I had been sharing with him really was true.

I don’t know why he’s nervous about coming home. I’ve been doing this daily for two years just to help him transition back.

Maybe I should make his wife-quality list for him. I could even do some checking to find out if the women I have selected would be comfortable marrying him if he picked them. That might be helpful.

Other people show up at the airport with banners and balloons. Jackson will come home to a father who looks like Superman and will be greeted by Jennifer Love Hewitt and two very pretty but less famous women who are all ready to marry him and start a family. Perhaps, to be efficient, he can go over the list I make for him and question the women on the way back to Logan. Within a week he could be married to one of them, have his very own mortgage and a kid on the way.

What does he have to worry about? I’ve got things covered.

I’m in charge of his transition to normal life.

Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at