When you’re the grandparent of a military family, you learn to savor those summer and Christmas vacations. We always packed so much fun into those weeks, trips to the beach and boardwalk, fishing derbies, scavenger hunts, McRaces, camping trips, you name it. The problem with these visits was that they were always hectic and hurried. One on one alone time with any of them was brief, if at all.
It’s taken years, but now my son, Adam, and his family finally live in my time zone. My four grandkids have grown up in Texas, Alabama, Washington State, Germany, and for four years in S. Korea. They are now in Savannah, Georgia, a not-so-quick 11 hour drive, and I can pick up the phone without calculating the time difference first.
Adam is now in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment without the family. The kids are 18, 16, 12, and 10. The younger two don’t remember him deploying the first three times.
Today, their oldest is at Texas A&M with her mom for a college visit. Lily wants to be an Aggie and is in ROTC. It tickles me to be able to stay with the younger kids while Lily pursues her dream. Dream big or don’t bother.
I’m thrilled to be able to do the every day things with the three younger kids this week. Things like playing taxi driver before and after school, making Christmas cookies. cooking dinner, and just hanging out. The bad part for them is that Grandy-Mom (Grandy is my preferred grandmother name) could be forced to make an appearance if they do something they shouldn’t. So far, Grandy-Mom has been invisible, thanks to Emma, the sixteen year old mother hen who takes that pressure off for me.
Lily was about seven or so and we were visiting them in Texas, riding in the car. Adam was reminiscing about getting in trouble when he was a kid and said that I had been “yelling at him.”
“Grandy wouldn’t yell!” Lily said and Emma emphatically agreed. We all busted out laughing. They’d never met Grandy-Mom.
Adam was in Iraq when Jack was two years old and we went to Texas to meet Lucy, the new born. I mentioned Daddy to Jack. The little tike turned and pointed to the desktop computer, “Daddy!” It was obvious he thought Adam lived in that little box called a computer. It was back in the day when Skype was brand new. Now, we can Face Time with him every day on our phones. Say what you want about social media and the evils of technology, but for military families, it’s a life line.
This morning, I went into now ten year old Lucy’s room to wake her for school. She was sleeping with what looked like her iPad next to her. Feeling like a bad Grandy-Mom who allowed that to happen, I reached over and picked it up, but found that instead of her iPad, it was a photo of her Blackhawk pilot daddy. And just when I thought my tears had dried up…
So tonight, I slept in Lucy’s room and she moved to her mom’s bed. Before I fell asleep, she came running back in, grabbed Adam’s photo to take to bed with her, gave me a kiss, and headed back downstairs.
Next week, I have a grandson that will be graduating infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Here we go again. Hooah! That’s military-ese for the Army’s battle cry that means “anything and everything, except no.” Yep, we’ve got this drill down pat.