Tuesday, October 13, 2009
white woman jello-shot flashback
Good morning. Mathew, my big man/boy youngest son and I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Ohio. It was a Semper Fi kind of thing. Stoke just got himself hitched and we got to share in all the festivities and let me just warn you, there were jello shots involved. Completely harmless looking little things, really. It's like a rainbow of gooey jellied yum-yum treats, especially when they are all stacked up on one another. And then the floor, the surface of trust and solidness, just comes right up and smacks you when you least expect it and the little cuckoo birds turn a bright black and blue as they swirl around your head. Sounds like an acid trip somehow, not that I have ever taken one of those, that's just seventies talk I have heard from my older brother. Not where I really wanted to go at all this morning, on a jello-shot flashback...
We had a beautiful time, we drove for six hours, got lost in Indianapolis because that's a limbo like area, probably closer to hell than heaven- I even got called a white woman. Never been called that before, but I was not offended, oh no! The man who said that used it in a sentence like this:
"White women, look at me! Forget thees map and listen what I tell you, get out of here, you are not safe. Take right at stop light, take right again and keep on going unteel you get out...you understand me?!" "Do not look at thee effing map unteel you do what I say, just get out of here soon now!"
I had left the protective big 6' 2" man boy out in the engine-running-locked-truck while I approached this man, I found myself sprinting back, banging on the windows (now I'm sure I looked like a crazy white woman, drawing all kinds of attention to myself by banging and yelling- "wake up, let me in!") The young man does not wake easily or perhaps took this opportunity to make a joke, either way he wasn't much of a security guard. We did get out of there, I won't even go into how we got so turned around and ended up in a place where perhaps, because of our extreme Irish/Swedish glaring whiteness, we might not have been welcomed without an Uzi...
But as usual, that is not my story, this is-
Big Stoke- Marine made man from Ohio, St. Marys to be exact. Met my Marine(Beau) there in North Caroline-y several years back, fell in love like men sometimes do with a buddy- a brother from another mother. They were inseparable, went to war together, made plans to travel the wide world, or at least the extreme southern states after their tour- picking and grinning and driving the Stang, that's Mustang to you and me. Turbo charged and fortified with blow-out-the-windows-and-your-ear-drums stereo. (I'm behind the times there, most folks don't call it stereo anymore, but you get the gist...)
Well you know in this turbulent world, some things happen that no one for sees and lives and plans get rearranged, hearts get broken and journeys never get taken. Sometimes, even big old Marines lose their heart and drop their pack- for too long. And then one wondrous day, after going back, over and over the reasons of why and the question that never gets a good answer, a lovely lady enters in with a bigger heart than a big old Marine. And she looked inside of Stoke, went deeper than most I suspect, lifted that man's pack up higher than it had ever been before and he decided it was time to take a new trip. (Although incidentally, they still went south on their honeymoon...redneck!)
Ahhh...now I'm getting to the good part. Stoke is one tough hombre, but kind of soft in the middle, you know- like a good chocolate chip cookie. We met him at a time when no joy could be found, when packs dragged the ground and it really didn't matter after all- anything. Still, he was a Marine and was made to escort "Dirt's" family around the base before and after the memorial service. In a later telling, he said though it was heart wrenching, he was honored to aid us. He was so tender with my children,truly the first soul who treated them like they were not little pillars of strength, not made of stone- and so kind to them that we all kind of clung to him. We trusted his guidance and strength, really relied on this young man to see us through. The service was somber, ever been in a room full of Marines filling the pews, trying to act all Marine-like, trying to not cry, trying to brave it out? Silent whispering tears, that's what it was. But those are the kind that are heard and felt most of all, those are the kind that ache even after they've been wiped away. So there we sat, trying to live up to the examples being set all around us- honoring not my son, but a brother who served- a Marine.
As the service came to a slow salute conclusion, Stoke stood at the end of our pew and offered his arm as an escort. I was easily led, as were my children. Unbeknownst to us, we were not made to wade through the river of Marines- we were to exit via the parson's door, in full view of the congregation of military men and women. As these doors were opened, all eyes behind us were upon us. A large hall was presented, again open to all eyes and Stoke led us through, beyond the alter, through the doors and straight into... the parson's bathroom. I remember looking down to see a toilet just at my right knee, holy as that little place was, we had taken a wrong turn. Stoke was facing a wall, still extending his arm for me to be led. The kids and Beau's "K." followed right into the little room, actually burrowing right in there like a pack of gophers. Stoke simply turned an about face, shrugged his shoulders, took my arm and out we filed- to the actual exit.
Stoke, in the midst of all the sadness, on a day when no joy could be found- made us laugh and giggle and snort. Oh we cried, doubling over outside where the parson was waiting, wondering- just where had we gone?! To this day, we give Stoke all kinds of grief over that incident. Matter of fact- I was handed the mic at the reception there in Ohio, and told just that story. Jello shots make you do the darndest things...
(And am I the only one to notice how bathrooms and privies and um, well...toilets, have kind of brought about epiphanys as of late??!)