My friend Juan has a knack for asking tough, philosophical questions so after reading my blog post about Officer D. and various comments he asked me what was it really about a man in uniform that did it for me.
I answered quite readily as though I had thought about this question over and over again, coming to some conclusion which had taken years to determine. It wasn’t until we were sitting on my porch and he asked that the answer quite simply came to me. A visual really, of black military boots and olive green BDUs, that’s Battle Dress Uniforms or fatigues, for you non-military folks.
My father was a military man. He served in the Army for several years then joined the Naval Reserve where he served with the Seabees (CB = Construction Battalion) for over 20 years.
As some of you may recall from my earliest days of blogging, life in the Peach house was not so good sometimes. My mother suffered from depression and she had a quite a few anger issues. When I look back, or rather feel back, I would pinpoint her emotion as resentment, especially as my father worked, went to college, and one weekend a month, played warrior.
I remember dreading those weekends. Although my father may have been absent a lot, he was still a buffer, meaning, when he did come home from work and school, whatever angers or resentments my mother was boiling over with was directed at him, instead of me. The weekends that he went away, that buffer was lost. I can’t remember any particular scene or incident that took place while he was away but I do remember the feelings. Anger, resentment, and pain, and it would build while he was away.
By Sunday afternoon, it had reached critical mass. My mom always made a nice dinner on Sundays, and invariably she would be standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes when my dad came home, his dinner still warming in the oven. My dad is a handsome man and he strikes quite a figure in uniform, even more so to a little girl who couldn’t wait for her Daddy to come home, even though it didn’t really make Mommy happy all of a sudden, like it made her.
Before the extra rooms were built onto our old house, the front door opened directly into the kitchen and I can remember waiting on that linoleum, my Dad coming in, his uniform starched and crisp, the little braided ties that held his pants legs the appropriate length, and drab green wool socks once he took off his boots. Dad eating dinner, pork chops or roast, and my Mom washing dishes at the sink, sullen.
My Dad was my savior. The cavalry has arrived! I didn’t understand the feelings I felt coming from my Mom but I did understand that once my Daddy came through that door, the heat was off of me. We passed the torch and trust me, my brother had no part of that torch. Not that my brother and I didn’t, at one time, commiserate in our misery, but he didn’t hold the torch. It was me, the one “just like” her “father.”
*Shrug* So, once again, rooted deep in my childhood, where all answers are deeply rooted, is the answer to Vince and Juan’s question.