In early 2015, my son, David, had to return to Iraq with his unit in support of Kurdish troops. Since he’d started the retirement paperwork process, I thought that exempted him. It didn’t. He went.
With the exception of combat deployments, David called Doug and I every Sunday evening for all 21 years he served. In fact, he still calls on Sunday evening. He’s been retired a while now, married with children, so I’ve told him not to feel obligated to call. He calls anyway. It’s a highlight of our week.
I believe that consistent practice of calling home was part of what anchored David for so many years, on his own, often in harms way. The gifts he gave Doug and I at his retirement celebration said as much. I’m glad I could play a part in being that anchor point.
When David left on that last deployment, I decided I’d write a blog post every Sunday on the off chance he might see it and feel a connection to home. WordPress statistics don’t tell me who reads this blog, but it does note the country they log in from. It was a happy day to see that one reader in Iraq pop into the stats. The anchor had dropped.
Speaking of anchors, I’ve felt very untethered this past month and a half. I can’t seem to get a grip or complete anything I start. There are four cabinets we’ve wanted to get rid of forever and I told Doug I’d pack the contents. So I pack a little, then end up at the sewing machine. The lady who wants them will be here next week. They’re still full.
I do, however, have a quilt top sewn together.
We had plans before this pandemic business upended life. And now those plans look awfully fuzzy to me. I can hardly wait to be free of this restricted life on one hand, and on the other I’m afraid I won’t be ready because I’ve been dallying at the sewing machine too much.
The stitching together of fabric is the only thing that makes sense to me these days.
I’ve written before about my great-grandmother, Mattie, in What you left me. I started thinking of her as I read about the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic.
Mattie was a young married woman living in San Francisco with a toddler while pregnant with her second child when the 1906 earthquake hit. Three thousand people died that day. Her little family survived and she gave birth to my grandmother a couple months later.
In July 1918, Mattie’s youngest child was born in San Francisco during the Spanish Flu pandemic. In the month of October alone, 195,000 people died world wide.
I was lucky to have her in my life for so long. She made it to my wedding plus a little longer. I don’t recall one story of how they all suffered through the pandemic. Not one. I don’t recall hearing about the devastation in San Francisco in 1906 or 1918. But I do recall many stories of family shenanigans, hard work, plans that didn’t work out, plans that did and the one thing that was her anchor, faith in God.
She was unashamed to share her love for God’s word and talked about Jesus as if he was standing beside her. Because, you know, he was.
If she were here today, she would be pleased, in her no nonsense way, with my sewing. But she would also tell me to hop to it and pack up those cupboards. Plans are in process and I better be ready.
Her memory brings perspective on what happened back then and what’s happening now. Her memory is a reminder of the anchor to consistently lean on.
p.s. she made me eat liverwurst when I was a kid, but I loved her anyway…