The Postcard

I came across your postcard again today.
I am always drawn to it as I open my box of memories.
It is simply signed, "To Jerry & Mother, with all my love."
I wonder, what was it like on Christmas, 1943,
and being away from your wife
and three-month-old baby son?
What was it like to wonder if you would
ever hold them close again?
What was it like for your own mother who had
both sons and grandsons serving in W.W.II?
Everything must have seemed so normal and routine
in your world until December 7, 1941,
then suddenly everything changed
because there was the attack on  Pearl Harbor,
and the word "war" was spoken.
After that, life was never quite the same for you.

I looked further into my box of memories
and there I saw your honorable discharge papers
and the medals that you had received.
Yes, you were one of the fortunate ones
who came home after the war.
Yet, when you came back you no longer had a job.
It had been given to someone else and you had to start
over with nothing. Your little boy, who was two years old
when you came home from the war,
didn't remember you.
You didn't get to see him when he learned to
laugh, crawl, and began toddling around the room.
You didn't get to hear his first words
and enjoy being called "Da-Da" for the first time.
 How do you get back those years that you missed?

You worked hard and made a new life
for yourself and your family.
A few years later, a little blonde haired,
blue-eyed girl came into your life.
You had a baby daughter and that was me.
Mom used to say,
"She has you twisted around her little finger",
because you spoiled me a little as you enjoyed that
period of time with me that you had
missed with my brother.
You also tried to make up the lost time with him
and you spent lots of time with both of us.

Later in life, you became a Veteran's Service Officer,
a job that you loved because you were able
to help other veterans and their families.

I remember the first time I ever saw you cry.
It was in 1966, and you were standing in the kitchen.
My brother had just left for overseas because
there was another war, this time in Viet Nam,
and it was more than you could stand
as you broke down and cried.

I started to put the postcard back
into my box of memories,
but then my eyes fell on one last memory in the box.
Tears began to form and as I closed my eyes,
my mind flashed back to that rainy day.
Once again I heard the sound of the rifle salute
and the bugle playing "Taps" .
Just as I remembered my mother doing that day when
they placed that same flag in her hands,
I reached into my box of memories and
I embraced the folded flag.

Pamela R. Blaine
copyright, May 2001