Debra Woolard Bender
Written loosely in the style of haibun, January 27, 2008
Haiku: One Deep Breath theme for Week 86: Vision
In a dark time, the eye begins to see. — Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)
My son, having less than three years left toward his second decade in the Air Force, recently volunteered to go to Iraq. His intentions were toward an open teaching position. A leader and instructor, that is what he does. His motivating desire is to give something of value to the Iraqi peoples. To give their military his knowledge-tools for rebuilding that they may become more self-sufficient. To use his teaching skills built through his field of work and experience. But last Tuesday, he was called to a four month stint, a duty not of his choice, and not in his field of expertise. That is the way of the military.
He will be leaving Georgia on Friday en route to the base in Iraq where he will serve. Originally, he was ordered to fly out only two days after notification, which didn't leave enough time for preparation. Although both work full-time, money has been too tight for my son and his wife, and this tour of duty will provide extra pay to help them meet expenses. He had been praying for an opportunity to add income in some way. He feels that this is the way of God's answer.
Later, in the afternoon of the day he told me the news, he phoned again. In the course of conversation, he told me about a quick trip to the grocery store with his wife and baby daughter to buy milk and bread. Before them, in the checkout line, stood a black woman and a white, retarded boy waiting for the cashier to ring up the total.
"Mom, the boy was so happy just to push the cart. Just pushing that cart made him so proud and happy." My son grew quiet, and I could hear him sobbing. It took awhile for him to gather his composure. To be able to speak. His voice came out strained. Completly broken.
"She told the boy, 'We don't have enough money for everything. We have to put some things back.'
"Do you know what they were buying?...What she had to put back?... Laundry detergent...staples. I wanted so badly to buy it for them. I didn't have the money to... . I had to buy food for my own family... . I couldn't...even... ." Driving home, he told his wife they had to find some way to do something for others who are in such need in their town when he returns from Iraq. Such is the way of my son.
two abandoned cats watch me
Note: Please read the referenced, linked Roethke villanelle poem, In A Dark Time.
Update: February 1, 2008 - My son's deployment date was bumped up a week. This morning he was notified that this change in dates brought about another change. The Air Force powers-that-be reviewed the position, decided it was not critical at this time and therefore, his orders were cancelled. In many ways, he is disappointed not to go, although his family breathes a collective sigh of relief. Thank you Debbie@piacere, and those who have been praying for Mark and the family. Your prayers have been answered in this unexpected way.