One Military Family
Moving, always moving. Before one deployment (mom) and after one deployment (dad) is The Move. The family is moving from Fort Carson near Colorado Springs to Washington DC. Included in the move is Mom, Dad, a two year old daughter, six month old twins, a high strung cat and a semi-grumpy Grandpa and a reconciled Grandma.
The logistics alone requires a computer and a planning genius. Not that this is the first move nor will it be the last, but it is the first move with a toddler and two infants, and never forget the cat. Our mission as grandparents, should we accept it, is to travel by plane with mom and children. Each child is required to bring an adult.
Dad is driving with the cat.
We have unloaded at the curb. We have checked our bags. With that task complete we are now free to enter the line through security. Oh wait, we have to get to the line. Mom is pushing a three-seat stroller equipped with countless and unknown compartments, cup-holders and pouches.
The stroller resembles a circus act. People pause to see the clowns burst forth. From the front, the driver is not visible behind the piled load of diaper bags, blankets, toys, snacks, infant seats, snowsuits, adult carry-on bags, purses and essential odds and ends. Each thing is necessary for survival for the flight across country.
Amazingly the highly sophisticated, state-of-art stroller does not contain a single infant or toddler. No one is riding. There isn't room. We are carrying the children. I have Rachel. She is squirmy and wants to see everything, but she is only six-months old, and I am still bigger. Mom has Alex in a sling that she balances on the stroller while pushing. Alex rides peacefully along.
Grandpa at this point drew the short straw. He is in command of two year old Hannah. While it is true that Grandpa is a Viet Nam veteran and survivor of bloody battle, he is no match for Hannah.
The child is tethered on a six foot line attached to a soft harness. She doesn't like it. She wants to run free. After using her tether to trip two young ladies moving away from security, Grandpa simply picks her up and carries her. In one arm he has a screaming toddler. In the other hand he has a Sippy-cup. His jaw is set, and his eyes are hard. We are still miles from security.
Because no terrorist in their right mind would attempt such a ruse, the security personnel rushed to help. The other passengers stood aside. We were unloaded into the baskets within minutes. No, I do not send Rachel through in a basket. No, Hannah did not stop sobbing.
Crisis came at boarding. Here the stroller had to be taken away and stowed. We had to carry the diaper bags, baby bottles and baby food, crackers and fruit snacks, blankets and toys, our own feeble bags containing a book on tape, player and batteries. Foolish Grandma.
I go down the aisle first. It is a big plane and we are near the back. I have a bag over each shoulder, Rachel, who has no intention of ever sleeping again, and a bottle in one hand. I receive little notice.
Mom is behind me. She now has the two-year old Hannah who has stopped crying because Mom is on her last nerve and Hannah realizes that. Mom also is carrying two diaper bags on one shoulder, her own carry-on, purse, and various other small and awkward bags. No one cares. They only hope she is not headed for the empty seat beside them.
I sit down and put Rachel on my lap in time to see Grandpa working his way toward us. Grandpa is carrying one docile and adorable baby boy. He has one bottle. The world reaches out to him. Several passengers offer help. Almost everyone smiles and nods. The world is full of good will for a man with a baby. Give me a break!
Mom feared that her toddler would be banned from the airline. It was possible. She was loud and obnoxious and uncontrollable. My little charge wanted to crawl up and down the aisle and screamed when she could not do so. Otherwise, we survived. However, no book for Grandma.
Grandpa sat some rows away from us. He held Alex who slept for the most part except when he was smiling and charming the people around him. He pretended he did not know us except when Alex needed a change.
Hours, maybe days, later we land. Hannah transforms back to her usual sweet nature. Rachel is asleep on my shoulder. Grandpa is pushing the stroller with Alex sitting in front of him. Mom has an expression similar to the Greek God Medusilla when her hair turns to snakes.
Dad arrives at the curb to pick us up. He is driving a large van. One look at Mom and he leaps from his seat and begins shoving bags into the back. He installs the babies into their seats. He lifts a smiling Hannah into her seat. All I am capable of doing is releasing my bundle into his arms and groping for a place to sit.
Once we are all tucked inside, Dad says, "Good flight?"
Mom is not yet capable of speech. I say, "Not really."
But it is Grandpa who had one piece-of-cake baby, who never changed a diaper, who carried only a bottle who says, "I'm never doing that again."
Nor has he. Grandpa has not boarded a plane since the flight home.
Dad drives us to their new home. All occupants are safely inside: Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, Dad, Hannah, Rachel and Alex and the cat.
However, we have no place to sleep. The Army moving truck containing such things as beds does not arrive for a week. The movers are lost and confused.
A Way of Life
I have visited my daughter in Kansas, Germany, New York, Colorado, Washington DC and Texas. Along the way we have accumulated a son-in-law, four children, two cats and a dog named Moose. Moving is part of a way of life dedicated to serving their country. However, none of us will ever forget the move to DC. I call it bravery beyond the call of duty.