Around the Bluhmin’ Town: You never know when you’ll take ‘The Call’
After many hugs and a few tears, he got in his truck and drove east towards Norfolk. Military families know the emotional ups and downs of enlistment, deployment, hellos and goodbyes. They all swirl together with joy, pride, worry, sadness, relief and wonder. So it goes. My sailor grandson, Kevin, transferred from the Coronado Navy base to Norfolk, stopping in Arizona for a week. Virginia is a long way from home.
Soldier, where art thou? Sometimes we say, “What a small world.” Not exactly true if your loved one is serving in the military and goes to some distant land, so far off the beaten path that you cannot imagine it. A colleague’s son is stationed in South Korea, my daughter’s stepson is in the Airforce and going to Kuwait. A friend’s granddaughter is on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific and a neighbor’s son is serving in Afghanistan. They are too far from us!
My husband was in Vietnam, and one of the problems all Americans had with this awful war was that we knew so little about the country. Maybe nothing has changed. All these strange places of “conflict” are so remote from our own American soil that we might as well be sending a loved one to outer space. Perhaps we know more about the moon than we do Afghanistan!
Kevin was deployed on a Naval cruiser (protects an aircraft carrier) for ten months, going to the Middle East and Korea in tense waters. I worry, he doesn’t. I cry. He says, “I’ll be back soon.” (Hope) I wake up with anxiety. He says, “It’s all good.” (Faith) Norfolk is better than being in troubled waters, but we all know that duty calls. And that’s what military families must learn to accept. So we do.
For parents and grandparents, it is hard not to see the image of that little child you cannot forget, now all grown up and stepping into harm’s way. Of course, we are all proud. Still, it comes with an emotional price. Kevin is up for adventure and is happy with his “new assignment.” He loves the Navy. I guess I do too.
When the phone rings, we answer. Like so many military spouses and family members I know, we never have our cell phones out of reach. Not everyone who answers a call in a public place is being rude. It might be “The Call" from your soldier or sailor 10,000 miles away that will only last one minute. You cannot miss it! We live for this!
Politics does not define the armed forces. Our freedom does. It is the men and women who selflessly serve, report to duty and carry out dangerous missions. No questions asked. I told Kevin I don’t want him walking around on a rocking ship helping to land a helicopter. Man overboard! Too scary! He laughs and says, “It’s what I do.” I have more to say, but my phone is ringing. My sailor made it to Norfolk!
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a story of a comment? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.