Tag Archives: Navy

Anchors Aweigh

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Pop-Pop's memorial card and two of the cartridges fired at his service

Last summer I wrote of a trip to Disney World and a visit to see my grandparents.  I never imagined it would be the last time I saw my grandfather. But I am hardwired for optimism.  Two days after I posted about our visit my grandfather passed away.

For the first time in twenty years our family gathered.  My grandmother, her children, their spouses and their children.  We were mothers, fathers, sisters,brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and nieces.  We were a family, gathered  at Arlington National Cemetery for his memorial.  That old expression “there wasn’t a dry eye in the house…” it applies.

The young sailors folding the flag, some of them didn’t look to be a day over 18.  The reading of my grandfather’s obituary, the three-volley salute, the bugler playing Taps, the recitation of Anchors Aweigh including the lines from the second verse “Until we meet once more, Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home!” it’s as if they won’t let you leave until you shed a tear.

My grandfather wasn’t one to go for all that folderal.  But he’d have gotten a kick out of one thing.  “Go Navy, Beat Army!” the officer said in closing.  And four generations smiled through their tears.

Hurry home, Scott!!

This is one of just a few of my “grown up” ornaments.  It is fancy. And sparkly.  And I put it carefully back in its box each year.  It was a gift from my brother and my sister-in-law several years ago.  And Lauren would likely blush if I said out loud the reasons this ornament reminds me of her.

To start with the easy ones, it is beautiful, as is she.  Not flashy and asking to be noticed but classy and gorgeous and fancy and understated all at once.

This ornament could wear blue jeans with pearls and high heels if it wanted to.  But it’s not likely it would need high heels, it is a good bit larger (to be read: taller, for those wondering if I am really about to call my sister-in-law LARGE in a public forum) than the other ornaments, just like the statuesque Lauren.  She has only an inch or two on me and yet she has always seemed taller, even to me.  Finally, a woman my brother has even a hope of seeing eye to eye with.

It is red.  And Lauren is a devoted  NC State Wolf Pack girl.  She taught Em to do the Wolf Pack symbol when she was teeny.  Just as we moved to Chapel Hill.  She didn’t seem to care it might get us run out of town.

What this ornament does not do… and Lauren is about to do… is make my baby brother in to a father.  I can’t think of a nicer thing for a girl to do.  I have mentioned before that my brother and I share little in common short of our love for one another.  But this change on the horizon will put all of us in the same demographic.  There is something about being a parent that changes everything. You share a kinship with other parents.  Perhaps this is what military veterans experience when they run in to another.  Perhaps their branch of service was different or the length of their active duty but there is a common bond.  And a relationship those of on the outside simply do not have.

Very soon three people whom I love dearly will join my Club.  The “I had a tiny baby in my house and I survived.  I was joyful and terrified, exhausted and more excited than I have ever been all at once. And I survived” Club.  My brother, Lauren and MQD.

Now just relax, girls.  Both of you.  Lauren and your sweet baby girl.  You just need to hang in there a little longer.  Scott will be home any day now.  And then … may your Adventure begin.

The American Dream

The American Dream means something different to everyone, I suppose.  The Happiness I pursue looks different through my eyes than it might through yours.  You might not even see the Happiness I so fervently strive for as worthwhile.  But there is one thing on which we can all likely agree.

I daresay there are very few Americans that will not thank a veteran or an active duty military person today.  No matter how close or how far you may be from achieving your Happiness we all have our country’s service men and women to thank for the opportunity to dream Big.

And this is when I started to cry…. I was planning on writing about how this is the first Veteran’s Day since my grandfather has passed away.  And the first Veteran’s Day that my brother has been out on a submarine, leaving his pregnant wife behind. And how my Happiness seems so attainable recently and how grateful I am for the Life & Liberty portions as well.   But I can’t make any sense at all now… because he called!!!  (My little brother, not my grandfather.  I am pregnant and emotional but I’ve not lost my mind. )

I am, without contest, the sappiest person in the family.  And a phone call from my little brother is the best way I can think of to celebrate Veteran’s Day.  I could be no more proud of him.  His boat departed in May, shortly after finding out he and his wife are expecting their first baby just after Christmas.  I thought that the day he was married I’d stop thinking of him as my “little brother.”  And surely the day he called to say that he and Lauren were pregnant I’d accept that he was growing up.

But it wasn’t until I got his call this morning.  On an international number.  From his desk.  On a submarine with the United States Navy.  He said that the beers were cheaper in port than a glass of water.  But he was most grateful for a few good night’s of sleep.  We talked a little about my pregnancy.  And a little about Lauren’s.  And we laughed as I pointed out that the four or five hours of sleep he gets now on the boat every 18 hours is more sleep than he’ll get when his daughter is born in the week following his homecoming.

A wee bit tipsy, circa 1998

 

He sounded like  a man.  That little brother of mine.  He sounded different.  Not older or wiser, just different.  He has been my brother for 31 years.  He has been in the Navy for over a decade.  And married for more than six years.  In about eight weeks he will be a dad.  He didn’t sound different to me until today.  I’m thinking it is the impending dad-ness.

 

Happy Veteran’s Day, Scott.  Come home soon.  There are two ladies in Hawaii that can’t wait to see you.  One of them will do everything she can to keep the other one snug as a bug and unborn until you get home.  But don’t push your luck.

Scott, on his wedding day. I was pregnant with Emily. It was a lifetime ago. But I will never forget his smile that day. I've never seen him so happy before or since.