I’m the daughter of a career military man. My Daddy was in the navy when I was young and everything revolved around his comings, goings and our constant moving. It’s not that there wasn’t a war going on, there was. It’s that we never knew much about the war. It wasn’t splashed across every other minute of the broadcast news. We never had a running count of how many people were killed or any graphic depictions of the latest beheading that we could access in a split second. The worst that we ever saw was some guys coming out of the jungle with guns and in real bad need of a bath. It never worried me when my dad was gone for 9 months at a time. After all he was on a big ship in the middle of the ocean. He wasn't traipsing around the jungles in Korea. The Vietnam War wasn’t real to us. We never new first hand of someone attacking us on our own shores. Not like other generations. Not like my grandchildren. We didn’t have a hundred new news stories completely dedicated to the war. The news was at 6:30 and that was that, it wasn’t interrupting our lives with up to the minute news about the latest car bomb, kidnapping, decapitation or other casualties. We never lived in fear every second or every day that we would loose the most important person in our lives.
When my dad was gone we looked forward to the mail. There would constantly be the inevitable envelope with his very neat military style printing on the envelope. The words you’ve got mail, had a totally different meaning back then. It meant that there was a letter from daddy sitting on the kitchen counter along with the dozen or so others for mom. We were constantly running out of paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps. We developed at a very young age the habit of sitting down each night and writing daddy. We were both eloquent and cryptic. Daddy was a constant ghost in our house and there was never the treat of wait till you father gets home. When daddy came home life was wonderful. Mom was easier to live with and we were safe from the world and not on our own for a while. It meant that I didn’t get writers cramp from all the letters I was forced to write. It meant that we had tangible proof on a daily basis that he was realy. He knew also that he had a whole bunch of little women that loved, adored and missed him when he was gone. He still has those letters, tucked neatly in the bottom of his sock drawer along with his other valuable mementos.
There was the occasional telephone call. Not like now where you have satellite hook ups and can talk almost daily. Ship to shore has a whole different meaning today than when daddy was out to sea. We could go months before we got to hear his voice or get that phone call from the ship to shore operator, “I have a ship to shore call for Mrs. Hoefle.” Then of course you’d hear my frustrated mom scream into the phone yes!!!!!!!! Over! If you were the one who answered the phone you had better run and find mom in a split second or else. Of course we didn’t have a cordless phone. We’d drag the 100’ of cord behind us all over the house till we’d reach her. She was always a nervous wreck excited and scared of who was on the other end of the line. We were always acutely aware that any one of these ship to shore calls could come with bad news. So we anxiously waited to see which type of crying would commence. If it was joy the bouncing would begin and we would wait anxiously for our turn to scream over into the telephone. Straining for the sound of his voice through the crackling on the phone line.
I know I’m rambling, but I wanted to show that I understand the life of a military child and thought that I had all the necessary tools to help these babies cope with there dad being gone to boot camp. Little did I know how wrong I would be! It seemed to me we always had the tools to be independent and cope with daddy’s being gone. Now I know I was wrong. It’s a whole different ball game with these babies. Each one has a totally different way to view there daddy going off to boot camp…
Yesterday was a very hard day for the DGS’s. Ok maybe not for Joey he has no idea what’s going on. As long as Elmo’s there, he’s warm and you just let him be himself, he’s fine and doesn’t miss daddy. Yes you come into a room and he’s smiling, but I don’t know if it’s because he recognizes you or that he just loves people. He lives in his own world and that’s ok for him. He hugs and kisses till he’s had enough of you then he’s off. Exploring his world anew and drooling on everything and everyone. He’s happy because he knows no better. He’s not afraid of the dark, doesn’t get upset that he doesn’t get his own way. He has no concept of time or war or bad things. He doesn’t get afraid of the dark or monsters. He has no concept about the world around him being different or changed at all. That’s the one thing that’s good about him being the way he is. Nothing gets to him or affects him.
Then there’s Eli, on the other hand. He cries almost every night. He has an old cell phone that he holds constantly to his ear talking to his dad. When he doesn’t get his way he starts screaming that he wants his daddy and of course I give him his way. Then there’s the constant phone calls from there father. Just when he seems to have accepted his circumstances there’s the call. I don’t know if it wasn’t easier when daddy couldn’t call all the time. It breaks my heart to see this little boy take his son (a stuffed bunny his dad gave him) and sit at the front storm door and wait. He’ll wait and wait for hours for his daddy to come home. He knows his daddy’s gone to the army and wants to know when he’ll be home. Some days are really good then others like yesterday are harder on him. On those days no amount of Nana cuddling will help. They say that war is hell but it’s a nightmare to the children of this generation. A nightmare they can’t even run away from. Nor can we protect them from the overt amount of information that’s constantly bombarding them. I know Elijah is just a little 4 year old boy, but he already wants to go off to the army like his dad. Military children and there parents have a bond that’s different from other children. They have to face on a day to day basis that there’s the real likely hood that they’ll be orphaned sooner rather than later. They both cling to and push there parents away in an attempt to cushion there hearts from the inevitable.
I know today’s blog is a little long and a little dark. Yesterday was very long and dark for us. I love my grandchildren and my children. I worry about all of them would do anything for them all. I guess the one lesson that I've learned from growing up in a military family is that you never know what tomorrow will bring and never say goodbye without saying I love you. Today has come and gone and tomorrow is just a promise. ……….
So today just sign me………..proud and thankful daughter, mom, and military Nana.... I love you still daddy………Chief Hoefle and my two army sons...............