Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


The rest of town (especially the bars) may be celebrating St. Patrick's feast day but today is special to me in a very different way. From 7000 miles apart, my dad and I sang with eachother. Being 7000 miles apart, we didn't sing very well together, but we tried.

We were able to videoconference using the high speed connection at a local hotel and my mom's laptop with webcam. And I told Dad that I'd really like to be able, when I get better, to play my banjo with him playing his guitar. So we sang "Red River Valley" together - and yet 7000 miles apart.

From this valley they say you are going
I shall miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For I know you are taking the sunshine
That has lightened my pathways awhile.

Come and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the one who has loved you so true.

Given the fact that we were talking by satellite connection, I'm sure that each of us heard the other coming from the bottom of a pickle jar, but, green and grainy though the pictures were, we could see one another and talk, even if part of the conversation was by typing. And of course, the time lag meant that we weren't even close to at the same time. But I got to see my dad. I got to talk to my dad. He gave us the video tour of his quarters, where we saw the countdown calendar and the big wool blanket.

As this deployment drags on, it's a real blessing to be able to talk to Dad, to hang out with Mom, to talk about the much-hoped-for day of Dad's return. It was wierd to have a virtual meal with him - he was having an after-dinner snack of chips and a non-alcoholic beer, while we had the end of our lunch. At one point, we sort of offered our juice to the camera, as he offered his soda over. And therein lies the difficulty of cameras for crossing that 7,000 miles.

One of the strong taboos that military families must deal with is the taboo on "whining" which seems to include any and all reference to how much deployment sucks, how hard it is for the families to cope with someone gone, or to stay connected. "Suck it up and soldier" Well, no. I won't. To Hell with that idea. I don't even believe in Hell, but I'm willing for that concept to die a firey and painful demise. It's stupid. I will get through the worry of having my dad deployed in a dangerous situation, far from his family, as best I can, and if my talking about it makes other people uncomfortable, well, it's a big Internet out there, and I'm sure you can get some sports scores or something else to help you ignore the real costs of this war.

I've heard a military wife who was looking ahead to a year's deployment for her husband apologize for "whining" when she noted that it would be hard for her to have a social life since she would be a single parent for the length of his deployment. To Hell with that. No, its not whining, and it is important. It is yet another of the uncounted costs of this war. The blankets that I am making and that friends of mine have made will never be counted as part of the war cost and yet they are. Why are our soldiers not being properly outfitted in the first place? Why aren't they being given properly warm equipment in cold areas?

Why are military families who actually need support and to have the safety to express their needs being silenced? Where is the courage of those who send our loved ones to fight to hear our words? Where is their courage to face our tears? I'm not a whiner, but I will say this: anyone who supports this war but doesn't have the cojones to hear me cry is a coward.


Blogger Kate said...

Oh, hun, I'm so glad you got to sing with your dad. :)

3/17/2007 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely image of you and your Dad dissolving the great distances with a song. That just seems perfect. So happy for your and may God speed his return to you all. And the same for all of those separated by this war.

3/18/2007 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an unexpected gift! My mother used to sing Red River Valley (off-key, but earnestly)on our frequent long car rides. I heard her voice again as I read the words, and was transported home for a moment, to a place that now exists only in memory. Shared songs dissolve not only distance, but time. Thank you--and your father.

3/18/2007 8:13 AM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

We also used to sing "Red River Valley" on road trips, along with other old-time and folk songs...

I just wish there were some way to pack a return ticket into his next care package. Which is going out tomorrow. One of the cool things I got to see in the video was that he was playing with a toy I'd sent him - shaped like a couple of maple "helicopter seeds" attached to a straw. You twirl the straw between the palms of your hand and the toy whirls away.

3/20/2007 7:54 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home