There Is No Army Family Day
I am still a bit afraid of just putting words out there without the benefit of an editor's eyes, or for that matter spell check ( I haven't figured out how to incorporate that into my blog.) This is like writing a journal, I suppose, only one that everyone reads. Which is what a column is like, to some extent. The trick with a good column is for it to read as if it were something I just happened to think of. The blog really is. I am also only half-way through my first cup of coffee, so that's a dangerous time to write anything. I am in my pajamas ( white cotton with pink flowers) and a blue cardigan sweater that's too big, and I'm sitting on a huge blue rubber ball. It is good for my core, I hear. Let's just hope I don't roll off. I have a busy day, Chip leaves for deer hunting down at Elfin Cove this afternoon, I have an obituary to write, a man who used to live here died in Juneau, and I volunteer in Eliza's second grade classroom. Today, she just told me on her way out the door, I am baking with the children. Pretzels. I am supposed to make homemade pretzels. "It's easy" she says, as if she's ever done it. I know I never have. There's that, and all those little hands in all that dough, make we wish there were H1N1 vaccine in town so I could get a shot. Yesterday 26 children stayed home sick from school.
After making pretzels and catching the flu ( or at least a sore throat) I'm sticking around to watch my favorite high school basketball player put his name on a signing agreement for UAA. Kyle Fossman is going to play for the Seawolves. He is the nicest big fish in a small pond you will meet, and not at all what you may think high school hot shot basketball players are like. He reads a lot, he's very smart, in a humanities way, and although he's getting an athletic scholarship is also at the top of his class and has earned an academic one as well. He didn't go off to a bigger place to play ball in high school the way someone of his talent and drive could have, because he would miss his baby nieces too much. That's Kyle.
Today is Veteran's Day, and I've been thinking about that. Both my grandfathers were in World War I, and my French grandfather was in both WW I and WW II. He escaped from a German prison camp and was awarded the French Legion of Honor ribbon for his bravery. Grandpa Vuillet didn't talk much about the wars, but he wore the red stitch in all his jackets, and he was a sport coat, formal kind of man. He liked champagne and was mostly happy, I think, having survived so much. The one it was harder on was my grandmother, who, left alone with two young children (the WW II years) slipped from being moody into full blown depression. She became what now we consider to be bi-polar, but then was called ( or at least when I was growing up) manic depressive. There were high highs and low lows all of her long life.
When I read the news of Fort Hood and the terrible tragedy there this week I thought of her. Included in much of the articles was the strain on military men and women who were facing not just second tours (which I believe was the limit in Vietnam) but three and four tours of duty. I also thought of my friends across the street.
My neighbor's daughter has a husband serving overseas now --not in a war zone, he's somewhere in Asia-- and she has come home from a base with her two babies, an infant and a two year old. It was too expensive to stay where they had been stationed on a military salary and she felt she needed to be with the children, especially with their dad gone from July to January, so they all came here to their mother's lovely, small, quiet home. The kind with two cats in the yard. They arrived with port -a-cribs and car seats and the dog-- bins of toys--all of it. While there is joy in being together, a houseful of bouncy baby boys is challenging for everyone. The mother's peace has been disrupted and the daughter has to mind her children in a house designed for an adult woman. There is no stair railing, and slippery wooden floors. There's no dad coming home each night or making breakfast on Saturday morning.
My friend works at the school everyday, teaching art, and her daughter is home with the children. It is, as arrangements go, one of the best, but it is still a challenge. I watched the babies while their mother took a break last Thursday for a few hours. They are darling. We played with wooden trains ( the two year old) and rattles and soft things to squeeze ( the infant, he has just started sitting up.) I had forgotten how busy little children are, or how needy, or how they manage to time everything so that as soon as one diaper is changed another one is dirty, and how when they want your attention they cry rather than use words, and how they don't always understand English, like "just a minute, I have to get your brother's pants on before I can come pick you up out of that crib, and I know it seems like you have been abandoned, but you haven't, the crib is the safest place I can put you." You know, that sort of thing. I think of their mother, and their grandmother, doing all this all of their waking hours, and I think, yes, there is stress in the military. Yes, it is good to pause and remember the sacrifice of veterans and soldiers. Of course it is. But they have Veteran's Day. There is no Soldier's Family Day. So if you can, do something nice for one today.