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Find out now or worry til later? It’s a toss-up

Submitted by on Monday, 30 August 2010 No Comment

I’ve often wondered if my grandmother didn’t have it easier when my grandfather sailed off for World War II in the Pacific.

Back then, there were newsreels, newspapers and radio, but that was about it. Sure, the big news spread quickly – Pearl Harbor and D Day. But the daily battles and casualties – she wasn’t likely to know. She probably didn’t even know where her husband was half the time or more.

Sometimes I envy her that, though I can’t imagine what she went through in an era when telephone service still primarily was party line and letters could take months to arrive.

And I can’t imagine how she would react to today’s technology that sends, just hours after it happens, headlines such as 7 troops killed in Afghan bombing directly to my home. Headlines that immediately make my stomach drop down to my shoes.

Let’s see, when was the last time I heard from Dad? About two hours ago, wasn’t it? Whew. It was well after that attack had happened. He’s OK. I later opened the story to find out the attack was no where near his base, and I felt guilty at the same time I felt relief, because someone else’s husband or son or father or brother did die today.

That was in contrast to Friday, when I heard about the news first from Dad. “I’m OK. But it was horrible,” he panted. “I’m still shaking.” He hung up by saying what he always says in those situations – “I can’t talk about it. Just watch the news.”

I never have to watch the news because I have Google alerts set up for his forward operating base and his unit, as well as for The Army Times. Even if I hadn’t, I couldn’t have missed this one. “This weekend the big event was hard not to notice,” another blogger wrote. “Sometimes things just hit close to home so its hard not to see the smoke, so to speak. ”

And that’s the way it was all day Saturday, as friends called and messaged. Some were looking for word of Dad, others were offering me support, and I appreciated each and every one of them. They made me feel a little less alone.

Each new call, though, sparked a new round of questions from the guys, so I wound up retelling a sanitized version of the story:

The bad guys managed to get onto Dad’s base and attack. The bad guys lost badly. The U.S. Army did its job, and did it well. Big Guy seemed to like that story. Boots was oddly quiet.

By nightfall, I was simultaneously exhausted and restless from the retellings. I thought of my grandmother as I staggered to bed and decided that I shouldn’t envy her, because I prefer knowing to what I’m sure must have been months of gnawing uncertainty.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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