Dreaming of the future we can almost see
Tantalizingly close. Not close enough to order the balloons or bake the cake, but near enough that we can see that it's not a mirage. Not close enough that we can get excited about Dad being here for such-and-such occasion, but near enough that vague promises offer the comfort of coming reality. "We don't know if Dad will be back for football and soccer," I tell the guys. "But he'll be back for baseball."
We still can't talk specifics. There's a reason the acronym MAC - Military Airlift Command - is jokingly translated to "maybe airplane come." You just never know. But we do know that the airplane will come sooner rather than later. There's a lot to catch up on once it does.
Dad's never seen Big Guy play baseball live even though he'll enter his third season this spring. He's never seen Boots play anything. He's seen all the action on video, but since the end of R&R those have been too painful for him to watch. "It just makes me miss them more."
He's missed a lot, no doubt. When he left, Boots was in preschool and barely knew the sounds that letters make. Now he's reading fluently. Big Guy was on his six-month sports ban after breaking a wrist when his father deployed, but now he's breaking wood in karate. He's diving off the high board, and he's hooking Rita up to his scooter and letting her pull him in a form of desert sled dogging. It'll all give Dad a heart attack.
Dad's never met Rita but he has a plan for winning her over. "We'll have to stop and get some doggy beef jerky on the way home," he says. Why not? That trick's worked before.
He also has plans for home improvements. "We need a wine rack. I'm going to start drinking wine when I get back," he says.
That one was a stunner. Not that Dad wouldn't drink wine if it were the only thing available, but he's always been more of a beer man. For months after he left, I'd run to the fridge while we were on Skype and retrieve the single remaining bottle of Bud Light so he could gaze longingly. I hope electronic depiction of alcohol doesn't violate any Afghani laws.
"It'll be great," he said. "We can put the kids to bed, open a bottle and sip some wine. I can't wait."
Me either. I haven't started shopping for a wine rack yet, but I have started to Google.
Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.