Thursday, August 10, 2006

Toughest job in the Army

Last night I called home to talk with my parents and grandma about Hester's quilt. All 3 of them are going to send fabric and wishes, and they're sending things from their dog and cat as well. When I talked with my dad, he told me that he wanted to send a camouflage bandanna from his Army days, one that he used to wear when he was in the field. I was so touched, and I thanked him for thinking of such a perfect piece of fabric.

And BAM! just like that, I flashed back to sights and sounds from my childhood: My dad polishing his big black boots, and the way our black cat Molly stuck her face down into them when he took them off; my dad's olive green duffel bag, packed and ready to go by the door; the matching friendship bracelets I made for him and me whenever he went away; helicopters taking off and landing alongside Orca's and my soccer field; armed military police patrolling our schools in Germany and the bomb checks we had to go through before our buses could come onto base; being really little and running to catch up with my dad--a tall man in uniform--and taking his hand before discovering that the man wasn't actually my dad at all, just another soldier in BDUs.

It's powerful, all this Army brat stuff. It's a central part of my identity. The last time it came up in a big way was when we bought our house--the feeling of putting down roots after a whole life on the run was indescribable. These days, I think about it in terms of how it'll help me relate to Hester Willa--loss after loss after loss, though I was very fortunate to always have my parents, brother, and pets with me. And there are the resiliencies I gained, too, like being quick to adapt to new environments and learning to be hella organized. Sometimes folks ask what it was like to grow up that way; the truth is, I didn't understand that there were other options until I was 10. It was just our life, good, bad, or both.

After I got off the phone with my dad, I looked for Army brat blogs on Blogger. I didn't find any I wanted to read, but I did find the list I posted below. The list totally made me stop cold--I haven't thought about some of the things on there for many years, but other things remain with me to this day. Check it out--that's the Army brat's life in a nutshell.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Jenny PP said...

AJWP, I don't have anything as meaningful as your dad's bandana to contribute - if I don't have a fabric already to give, is it OK if I buy some fabric and send my wishes with it? Now I'm traumatized. We've gotten rid of so much stuff with our recent couple of moves, I don't really have anything that fits the bill like your dad's contribution does.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Clementine said...

Of course it's okay! That's kind of what I imagined when Trista told us about the project, and it's what I'll be doing for my square (and for Reuben's, Josie's, and Clary's squares; I don't know what Petunia's planning for hers). But isn't it so sweet that my dad wants to use his bandanna for his grandchild? And I also heard from a certain someone who graduated with us who now lives in London (E.W.) that she's getting Hester some fabric in India, where she's working on her dissertation research. Wowza, huh? Hester's going to have such a variety of fabrics from such a variety of people!

We actually got the first square, scrap, and wish today from another former classmate of ours, a certain S.L. who now lives in Jersey (do you know who I mean--4th floor Washburn?). So sweet--she sent fabric from her daughter's bedding. It's really happening! Petunia and I are thrilled.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

OK, Phew! That's really awesome that you're getting stuff from so many people and they're doing such thoughtful stuff, I know exactly who you mean in each case. Hooray! It's so awesome.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Clementine said...

I know! Folks are being so kind and thoughtful! Very nice indeed.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

best regards, nice info
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12:14 AM  

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