Feature, KJ #72
"What’s amazing to me is that after a war — with
Japan, in Korea, Vietnam — we get all kinds of loving things:
we have 'war brides,' we have families adopting Chinese and Vietnamese
orphan girls, we have new family situations. First there’s exotic
countries, and then we have the war, then we have marriages…I
wonder, 'Can’t we just skip the middle part, the war, and get
on with the loving family and wonderful new foods and restaurants
Hong Kingston (from interview in KJ #72)
My Grandson the Marine
a typical grandmother, but I became a mother for the second time at
age fifty after my grandsons were left without a mother. My son’s
wife passed away and left him with two boys to raise. This might not
be a unique circumstance but it was certainly life-changing for all
I once read a statistic that said over fifty percent of the children
in America today live in non-parental households. The reasons are as
different as the people themselves. In my case it was from a death in
the family. My grandsons were ages two and five. I felt there was nothing
I could do but to help their father. I never wanted to take the place
of their natural mother but they became as close as if I had given birth
So I cooked pasta and listened to their hopes and dreams, helped with
homework and watched them grow into handsome young men. I like to think
that I had a hand in guiding them to be polite and courteous adults.
When the youngest grandson decided he wanted to join the Marines, I
got a lump in my throat I couldn’t swallow. I was so scared he
would have to go the Middle East. Of course that was what he wanted.
But I tried to be supportive of his decision. He was tall and strong
and would make a perfect poster boy for the military. He wrote from
boot camp and there were tears in my eyes as I read his letters. He
came home on his first leave and the pain eased a little seeing him.
He seemed to fit into the regimen of military life with no problem.
He had funny stories to tell of his roommates and of course the food.
I believe it’s a soldier’s right —no, duty —
to grumble about the food. But when he came home on his first leave
he was happy to get home cooked meals and I was happy to cook them for
When my grandson left to go back to camp he was supposed to go into
further schooling to learn the job he had signed up for, and it was
then that I learned that he probably would not go into a fighting zone.
I was so relieved to hear that his job description was something that
didn’t require him to go to the front lines. I know this is selfish
of me but I don’t care.
We kept in touch by telephone and e-mail so I could relate all the latest
gossip of his hometown.
The next transfer, overseas, was to Japan. Here was a young man that
had never been away from home, now going to a foreign country. To say
the least I was nervous about him being in a place where he didn’t
even talk the language. I understand that the military takes good care
of their men and will teach them everything they need to know about
a new assignment.
I sent him some of his favorite cookies, books and other mementos from
home. I still missed him but he was a grown man according to the Marines,
though not to me. To me he was still my baby boy.
We still kept in touch but he had never been much of a letter writer.
So once again I depended on e-mail and the telephone. That was how I
found out he had met a local girl. He talked about her all the time
and sent pictures. She appeared to be really cute.
One day he called and said he was being transferred back to the States
and would also get leave in a couple of months, after he got back.
Than the big call came: he said his girl was also coming to the States
and would come home with him when he came on leave. Now I was really
on edge. He said she wanted a big holiday dinner with something like
turkey and dressing and all the trimmings.
I was rather intimidated by the thought of trying to make a good impression
on her. After all, she was important to him and so I wanted her to like
and approve of me.
On the day they were supposed to arrive I cooked all day. He told me
she liked chocolate, so I made fudge and brownies. She tasted everything
I made. She didn’t like all of it but she tried it. She had never
eaten black-eyed peas but she tasted them and didn’t like them.
She had never eaten popcorn made the old-fashioned way with a popcorn
popper instead of the microwave.
She took pictures of everything. She wanted to preserve the memory.
They went to the grocery store and bought specialty items so she could
cook us Japanese food, dishes I had never heard of or tasted. But then
I am a small Southern town person.
When we were alone my grandson asked what I thought about her.
I said, “As long as she treats you right, that is all I care about.”
“You have no idea how well she treats me,” he answered.
It turned out I had nothing to worry about. I can truly say she is one
of the nicest people I have ever met. She was friendly, polite and sweet.
We went antique shopping so she could get souvenirs to take back to
her family. And then we went shopping again. She had never seen so many
junk shops. It was so much fun showing an outsider our small hometown.
We went to the lake and saw a beaver splashing in the water. We showed
her an ivory-billed woodpecker in the front yard and explained that
they were thought be extinct a few years ago. We saw a bald eagle and
told her that it was the symbol of our country. She loved all things
American including my grandson.
I am so happy to have met her and if she does become a member of the
family I will welcome her with open arms. Although I’m not sure
he’s old enough for a serious relationship. Maybe when he’s
Vigil Platt has gone kicking and screaming from writing on cave walls
to the electronic age. Yet she has finally achieved her life long dream
of becoming a published author. She has been published both on line
and in magazines such as Fate, Range, Cup of Comfort and Demon
Minds to name a few. Her novel Pair a Dice can be found
at all major book stores. Since this true-life story was written, her
grandson and his fiancee have gotten married – "So now I
have a wonderful new granddaughter!"
held by the author
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