An Outreach Program of MarineParents.com
My late grandmother was quite a character. It took a few years to recognize what would later be diagnosed as dimentia. At first, we just thought she was, well...being HER. She had a story about and for everything. Most of the time talking about people who we had no IDEA who they were, yet she yammered on about them as if they were sitting in the room with us and we should know everything about them. If you made the mistake of asking who they were....these people in her stories....she'd go through a LONG line of geneaology and relationship connections..." You know, Carolyn's third cousins' sister's neice...." (All the while you had no idea who CAROLYN was! Ha!) You eventually learned to shake your head, agree and act like the people in her stories were practically your better half and you knew exactly who she spoke of.
With that character trait, we never went ANYWHERE that the woman didn't know someone. I often wondered, if they too had no idea who she was and just played along to be nice or if she really knew them when she spoke to them.
I, on the other hand, am quite the opposite. I am more of an observer...a people watcher. I don't do a lot of talking to complete strangers or striking up conversations in line to places. That is, until I became a MoM.
My first order from my son was NOT to go moto-tard on my vehicle. He left me after boot with the one bumper sticker that boasts of being a proud parent of a United States Marine. I had easily picked out half a dozen Marine motivational bumper stickers, cling ons and window decals that I was fully prepared to order....much to his chagrin. So, instead, I compromised. I left the one simple bumper sticker on my vehicle and went moto-tard in my house decor.....nothing he can do about that.
I found, that once my son became a Marine, I had developed the eyesight of a hawk. I can now, clearly distinguish the differences between a NRA bumper sticker and a Marine Corps bumper sticker easily at 1,000 yards. I have to admit I am a little more friendly to those drivers who boast military stickers....even more so to my Marine MoMs. I can distinguish the differences in military cammies, and usually spot a Marine (even if he's in civvies) in any random store. I call it a sixth sense! I think we all develop it. I remember doing the same things (and still do ) after my first son was born with Down Syndrome....I can pick any downs kid out of a crowd and am instantly drawn to them. I've found it is the same with my Marine Corps family.....it's a bond we only understand and can't be processed by those who have not stood where we stand.
Just the other day, I was driving through a local chicken restaurant. I swear the people at this particular location must all be on happy pills because they have the best manners and customer service I have ever experienced. This has resulted in us being frequent shoppers. We drove through that day, placed our order and they told us it may be a little bit of a wait. They were so darned pleasant about it, I didn't even mind. So I pulled around to the window to pay and the lady struck up a conversation with me about my son, the child with Downs, who was seated to my right. Her first question clued me in that she had someone with Downs in her family...." How old is he?" It's a question those who are not connected with downs often are afraid to ask out of fear of offending. "23" I respond. She instantly looked over me and started talking to him, asking him how his day was, commenting on his Scooby-doo shirt and asking him if he were ready for Halloween. We said our niceities and then I moved on to the next window to await my order.
As I sat there waiting, the same lady walked out of the restaurant and to my driver's side window. It startled me at first, because, well, you just aren't used to people walking between a drive through window and your vehicle. She had tears in her eyes. " I couldn't help but notice.....are you the mom of a Marine?"
"Yes" I say, still in shock that she is standing there and not in the window.
" My son was an active duty Marine....21 years old. He was killed 'in the sand' almost two years ago. His little brother has downs. He still lives at home with me and still talks about his older brother every day, asking when he will come home."
Now my tears were flowing.
" I just had to come give you a hug....we have such a connection. " And she proceeded to ask me the specifics of my Marine, not listening with the glazed over, I-just-asked-to-be-nice-but-I-really-don't-want-to-hear look that I get from civilians. She soaked up every bit of information I shared with her about how my Marine was doing and the connections between him and his brother.
" Hug your Marine for me the next time you see him, will you?"
(As if she had to ask!)
By this time, I was just a blubbering idiot....stammering and stuttering on every word. I felt like someone in the presence of a celebrity. She had given her all to our country....the Corps....and here she was trying to connect and comfort ME.
" Well, I'll let you go...your order is up. I just had to come hug you and tell you that. I feel drawn to talk to family when I can."
" Thank you" was all I could seem to get out between the huge lump in my throat and the tears that now left my face looking like I was more a relative of a raccoon.
"Semper Fi MoMma. Hang in there." She said, and with that she was gone.
Semper Fi indeed. I do love this big, happy, family we are in. One bonded in goodbyes, worries, accomplishments, sacrifice and strength. No matter the differences in ethnicity, religon, politics, geography or genetics....we ARE one big, happy family. Happy to be in the company of our heroes....our Marines. Happy to lean on each other when we can. And never taking one single experience for granted.
Semper Fi. Semper Family.