Children of Military Parents
OMG, We Are Hurt
Fort Bliss, Texas in July is hot. For a grandma from the north, Fort Bliss is a new definition of hot. So the children take advantage of the water parks.
On this Thursday afternoon my five year old Granddaughter chose a one piece swimming suit topped off with the top of her two piece swimming suit.
"Why are you wearing two swimming suits?"
"The flowers match."
So later when we are in the surgical unit of the ER at mommy's hospital, two swimming suits need to be cut off. Losing two suits is extremely difficult for a five year old, little girl who fell from a climbing tree in a playground skirmish and broke two bones above her wrist.
For all parents, grandparents and siblings who have sat at the bedside of a hurt child in the ER, there are no words. We can only hope to comfort and reassure and look at the nurse. The nurse in this case was a big man with the smile of an angel.
Rachel did not cry when the staff moved her arm for a zillion x-rays. She did not cry when telling the nurse, "My mom is in Afghanistan." Not a tear when the doctor moved her fingers.
However when the gigantic scissors appeared, Rachel said, "Grandma, I don't want my swimming suit cut." She could barely speak for the lump closing her throat. "I don't like it when they cut my things."
"We'll get you a new swimming suit. Two of them."
"Hannah and Alex want one too. Hannah wants a one-piece."
Since nothing in the solar system is too much, "Everyone can have a new suit. And ice cream. And a new book."
The ER personnel were aware that mom was deployed. They located dad at a distant artillery range. He was in route. The day-care provider took the three loud, hyper siblings home. The nurse provided a chair. Grandma sat beside her brave little girl who put her head on Grandma's arm and only cried when the nurse cut away her swimming suit.
"I'm hungry for ice cream," she said.
"You can have whatever kind of ice cream you want when we get home."
"My mom works here," she tells the nurse.
"What does she do?"
"She fights bad guys."
It was actually a short time before dad arrived and the bone specialist and the splint was applied. So Grandma's time as the sole provider of love and comfort was not long measured in minutes. It was everything when measured in the brown eyes of a hurt little girl.
Not insignificant in living months away from home is learning where places are. And learning where they are is a breeze compared to driving to them.
"This doesn't look right, Grandma."
"I think we are okay."
"Are we lost, Grandma."
"No." I can lie to small passengers but not to myself. I am hopelessly lost.
I have zero sense of direction. Add to this disability, the streets and highways in El Paso curve, stop, drop lanes and have signs two inches in front of the exit. I am forced to rely on the tolerance, patience and good-will of my fellow drivers (gulp!).
My granddaughters want to learn how to sew. Pleased with this idea as a time consuming and productive activity, I agree to a trip to Walmart for some child-ready sewing kits.
We have found underwear, shoes, drink boxes and whatever else is required before we can sit in the van and go anywhere. We have grandma in the driver's seat who already knows how to adjust the seat forward, crank up the AC, and find the exactly correct music (number seven).
Airway to Viscount then we should have a visual. There is no street named Airway. Return home and get directions to the correct Gate off post. Ahh, we have Airway. I do not know when I lost Airway and found myself on a Street named Montana.
Should I turn around while I still have a chance of getting back home.
"I'm making a heart for mom."
"I want to sew a red heart with words on it like love."
"I want arms on my heart."
"How much further?"
"Is this a short-cut, Grandma? This isn't how dad goes."
Oh Boy. Ahead is a McDonald's with a play area. "Let's have a slushy and take a break."
"I've never been to this McDonald's."
Inside the air-conditioned play area, I do a mental plan of which driveway I entered and how I have to leave to get back home.
Time to go. I cannot exit as I entered. But I see in the distance a Target. We go to Target. No such thing as children's sewing projects, so we buy an adult sewing kit complete with a thimble and ripper tool, scissors and many spools of different colored thread. Yeah! We choose pillow cases, red ones and white ones of a soft cotton, no ravel material.
We are ecstatic as we return to the car. The children now engrossed in their new thread have no awareness of the panic surging in Grandma's heart. I do try to call my son-in-law but he does not answer. I am on my own. If I see a sign that I am about to enter Mexico I will know that is not the best way home.
"Don't take the scissors out of the case."
"I'm only seeing if it works. Can I just try it?"
"No. Sort the threads. Do not take out the needles. You may try on the thimbles. Draw what you want to make."
The increasing number of cars behind me are losing what patience they had. I do not know which way to turn. Due more to blaring horns than any clue I turn right. I pray. And there in the distance on the freeway is a sign that states Fort Bliss.
I never did find Walmart. I drove many extra miles. I never told my son-in-law that I was lost. A GPS only works if you know where you are going.