Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do You Have Half A Minute?

If someone you love disappears and you never find out what happened to him there is no peace about it. Losing someone to death is hard enough, but missing is not dead. It is just missing.

For decades more than 8,000 men have been missing from the Korean War. My father is one of them. Amidst sightings and intelligence reports and a whole host of other evidence that many of these men were taken to the Soviet Union and never returned, the United States Government did nothing for a very long time. Over the past twenty years there has been an effort in place to gain an accounting. Progress has waxed and waned. Politics get in the way. So do budgets. So does apathy, I’m sorry to say.

People not touched by such a loss likely wonder how and why families would continue to suffer so many years later. My best analogy is a wound that runs deep—one that has been covered over by nothing more than time. Without something to heal the injury, it festers from within.

The Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs has drafted an electronic petition asking President Obama to make good on his promise to find out what happened to the men who disappeared while fighting in Korea on behalf of the rest of us. Each time someone signs the petition an email is sent to the White House. I have included a link to the petition below. It takes about thirty seconds to sign and send. Thirty seconds. The missing men and their families have been waiting for sixty years.

Every day this country sends its servicemen and women into battle, asking them to be ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. Behind their willingness to go forward is the expectation that, if they are captured or if they fall or if they simply disappear, their country will do everything in its power to bring them home, or at least find out what happened to them.

I hope you will join me in asking our government to do what it should have done a long time ago for men who had that same expectation. Men who were let down. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mother of the Bride

Our daughter, Kirstyn, is four years out of college. Little by some her friends have settled into relationships and started to get married. Last year Kirstyn told us she and her boyfriend, Dave, were going to live together. Funny how once upon a time that notion was frowned upon. These days, especially being a divorce attorney, my feelings were of relief. Better to know the little quirks and rough edges before you say I Do.

Around Valentine’s Day Kirstyn announced she and Dave were going ring shopping. I guess that’s how they do it these days. No more surprising the girl with a little black velvet box while on bended knee. She goes and shows him what she wants then sits back and waits for him to put it all together. From then on she is hoping he hurries up, now that they’ve set things in motion and she must keep her nails done every day just in case.

I picture ring shopping as a spontaneous, shoot from the hip thing whereby you go into a jewelry shop and say “Ooooh, I like that one, and that one over there.” And you try them on. Kirstyn and Dave however did research. Location of shops; price comparisons; size, shape and cut and which give you the most diamond for your money? Before they headed out they had a spread sheet and scientific analysis. Hmmm, I thought, not very romantic.

But then the phone rang a few weeks ago. It was Dave. He was asking for Kirstyn’s hand in marriage. How sweet! Despite the new ways of today’s youth in the marriage business, Dave indulged himself, and us, in a touch of tradition. After that we had this luscious secret and I was about to burst so he couldn’t get to it fast enough for me.

The phone rang a couple weeks after that. I was in a restaurant. It was Kirstyn and Dave wanting to ‘Face Time’ me on my iPhone so we could see each other. I got excited. And, sure enough, there they both were, all dressed up with a beautiful ring on Kirstyn’s finger. I felt gypped that I had to behave myself, being in public and all. I wanted to whoop and holler.

Come to find out it wasn’t all businesslike after all. Dave found a way to make it special. He’d employed several of Kirstyn’s friends who led her one at a time, by surprise, from one fond memory for her and Dave to another. At each location there was another friend and another note from Dave. Eventually the scavenger hunt led her back to their apartment where Dave waited, dressed in a suit, and where he got down on bended knee and presented her with a black velvet box. Then there was a special dinner out, just the two of them.

Nice work, Dave!

Since then no conversation has been had in my family that doesn’t include talk of the wedding. I’ve always been a proponent of “buy a house or go on a trip or something, but don’t spend exorbitant amounts of money on a wedding. It’s a party. One day and it’s over.” But their crowd is doing it the old fashioned way. Funny, at first I was crabbing because they were too practical about it all and then I was crabbing because they want to do it with romance and ceremony. Make up your mind, Donna!

So now there are more spreadsheets. And, though it’s still a year away, they’re already racing to secure everything before other engaged couples get there first. They’re looking at venues, and caterers, someone to play music. They’ve got to find a bartender pretty soon or they might have to bring in a hobo off the street for lack of a bona fide twelve months from now.

My mom talks of her wedding, which was sixty six years ago yesterday. It cost $250. After the ceremony, a room divider was pushed aside and everyone walked into the other space to have cake and ice cream. No band, no dinner, no liquor. No fancy center pieces and no wedding coordinator. The honeymoon cabin cost seven dollars.   

Kirstyn and Dave have a different vision for the day they become man and wife. I’ve gotten over my ‘what a waste’ frame of mind and have joined the frenzy. Of course, first thing I have to do is lose ten pounds. (I’d need to do that if I weighed 80…it’s just one of those things the Mother of the Bride must do.) And I’ll need to start working out more so everything will be toned, unless I want to wear long sleeves and a turtle neck in July. Already I’m wondering how far in advance l will need to get my hair cut so it doesn’t look too chopped but hasn’t yet grown out. Maybe I should schedule an appointment now so my hairdresser isn’t booked up.

Kirstyn’s coming home to Roanoke at the end of the month so we can shop for her wedding dress. “Already?” I thought. Of course. What an idiot. Everyone knows it takes ten months to order the dress, get it altered and have it in hand ready to go. I can only imagine what it will cost. I’m going to have booze in my purse so I can take a swig and dampen my reaction when they tell us.

I expect this next year is going to bring many different challenges and lots of surprises. Whatever they might be, I have now stood back and looked at the gift before us. Our baby girl has grown up. She got a fabulous education and her career has taken off. She has found a wonderful young man and they are happy together. A year from now they are going to celebrate the hell out of all that and the promise of much more to come. I will be there with trim waist, muscular arms and a mid-cycle hair cut. And my heart will be bursting with joy. I can’t wait.