26 May 2007

parties and partings

We are going to my nephew's birthday party this afternoon. I cannot believe he is turning 5. The party is going to be held at Chuck E. Cheese. Blue is beside herself with excitement. She was lying on our bed this morning with Daddy, wearing her jammies and some serious bedhead. I said, "Where are we going today, Blue?"

She wriggled into an upright position. "Chuck E. Cheeses! Let me put my shoes on!"

This will be our second serving of pizza and cake in two days. We had Kathy Davenport and her children over last night for some pizza and cake and Disney movies. My mom said, "She's bringing Sam back over after the way Blue treated him last time?" (In case you have forgotten, Blue hit him in the head with her toy teapot.)

Believe me, I watched her like a hawk. I felt kind of bad because at one point in the evening, all of the kids were having a grand/noisy time in the playroom, when little Sam started to cry. I ran in there and immediately asked Blue, "What did you do?"

Megan Davenport, the oldest, said, "She didn't do anything!" I felt like such a jerk, but considering Blue hit the Lion in the face just yesterday with her sippy cup, you can hardly blame me for assuming she had done something to make Sam cry.

Kathy's husband deployed this week. He will be gone for a year. I cannot, cannot imagine it. At one point last night, the kids were playing in the sandbox and little Erin Davenport turned to me (she's 5) and said quietly, "My Daddy is on a trip. A long trip."

"I know." I told her. I had no idea what else to say.

This Memorial Day seems more poignant to me than any before. How has such a sombre day become such a holiday--such a time of heavy traffic and Memorial Day Sales?

A guy I used to work with lost his brother in February. I heard about it, and I thought, My God, he is so young. He's younger than me, and he's lost his little brother. And then I felt cold all over. My mother lost her brother in Vietnam when she was the same age. My whole life it was just another fact about our family. Uncle George died in Vietnam. My mother always seemed so old during the time, in my little head, because when Uncle George was killed, she was married and she had a child and a second baby on the way. But now I know how very young she was. She was 22.

My uncle was her little brother, my grandparents' only son. His name was George William Pepe. He was a helicopter pilot. He was killed in September of 1969. My mother was pregnant. My brother, George William Roth, was born in January. His son, whose party is today, is also George William.

My mother never would watch anything on tv about Vietnam. She told me not to play my Beach Boys albums (which used to belong to Uncle George) when Grandma and Pop were visiting. Just last week, I took a set of jammies I was going to buy for the Lion out of my shopping cart in Wal-Mart because I realized they had a helicopter on them.

My whole life all I ever heard was how much my brother, George, was like our Uncle George. How eerie, how similar they were. I was always convinced that something awful would happen to my brother when he was 21. That he would die, too. There was talk of a draft, during the first Gulf War, and the timing would have been perfect.

I am the first woman in my family in three generations not to be separated from my loved one by war (knock on wood). My grandfather fought in World War 2. My father fought in the Vietnam War. I sat across from Kathy Davenport last night eating pizza and I thought, how is she coping? I imagine that for now it hasn't really sunk in. That she is so busy with the children that his absence isn't that big a deal. But that as the days stretch on, into a week, and then 2... It will get harder.

To everyone with a loved one away at war, to everyone with a loved one who will never come home, my heart goes out to you, this weekend, and every, every day.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, Erin. Happy memorial Day.


Anonymous said...

Amazing writing Erin. I am fighting back tears. You never get over it.....


Anonymous said...

Wow that was a really nice post, it is really nice to know that people are so grateful for the time that the members of our armed forces give up. My friend Shannon's husband is leaving in June and he will be gone for a year. It was hard going over my self but now that I see what she is going to have to go through for the next year I am starting to thing it is harder for the ones who have to stay home. Shannon is tough and she has a lot of family and friends around, I am sure she will be fine. My heart goes out to the families that have to hold everything together while there loved one is away.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this nice post. I'm sitting in the library with tears in my eyes. You write so nicely about someone you never knew.

Aunt D