“Mom, I heard you and Dad yesterday.” She swung around and looked right at me, checking my eyes for the truth. “No one else was in the house when I came back from Carol’s and you were shouting so loud, I’m sure you didn’t hear me come in.” Mom’s face colored to a bright red from her neck to her cheeks.
“So-o-o, what did you hear?” Her eyes didn’t meet mine now, as she began to fold warm clothes just out of the dryer.
“That you would divorce Dad if he went to Viet Nam. Will you really do that, Mom?” I watched, closely as she sunk down onto the couch, Dad’s tee shirt still in her hands.
“I meant what I said, Sojourner. I think your father knows I meant it, too. I just don’t know if it’s enough.” Her hands held the shirt but she wasn’t folding it. She just looked straight ahead at some invisible target.
“Enough to make him not go, you mean, Mom?”
“Yes, that’s what I mean. Don’t worry about it now, Honey. Things’ll work out… one way or the other.”
“Mom, things won’t work out if you divorce Dad. I’ve spent a lot of time with Carol and, believe me, things are not working out for her! Did he say he would go? Is he being ordered to go?” It was a horrible time in our country’s history. The draft was swooping up teenage men who were, then, placed under the command of a young officer only a few years older. The officer had just graduated from university, having used the military funding to finance his degree. Normally, the student had to attend military classes once a week and participate in training sessions for six weeks one summer, but the degree earned had nothing at all to do with war or combat strategies. I know my father worried over the lives being lost for the inexperienced leadership in the trenches/rice paddies.
“No, he is not being ordered to go. At this point, they are just asking for experienced officers to volunteer, starting with the Army Reserves and National Guard since they are already keeping their skills up and are on Uncle Sam’s roster. He hasn’t said if he’ll go or not.” Looking at my mother who had resumed folding Dad’s tee shirts, I couldn’t help wondering if she was thinking of her dear friend, Martha. Martha’s husband had been a Master Sergeant where my father was Company Commander and the two ladies were very good friends. Martha had been widowed less than two years earlier as her beloved husband lost his battle with lung cancer. Martha’s oldest daughter and I had been friends since before we were old enough to go to school. Perhaps Mom was remembering how hard it was for Martha to care for their children without Sergeant Paul around to help her. “I don’t know, but I ask the good Lord every day to show him what his going would mean to us.”
We had finished folding the basket of clean clothes and went our separate ways. Funnily enough, I don’t remember “asking the good Lord” to help us, though I, certainly, would have done so if I were a few years younger. When had I lost that spontaneous communication? Instead, I just waited to see what would happen.
Not sure if it was the good Lord’s prodding or the fear of losing his mate of twenty years (or a bit of both), but my father never left for war. Not a word was ever spoken of it in our home again.
*All names have been changed.
****Teen Stresses: Divorce, Biblical Reflections … Coming Monday