Friday, July 4, 2014

Farewell Yellow Ribbon

In 2007 our Memorial Day celebration changes though we celebrate just the same as we always do: two parades and a visit to the memory stone up on the hill.  It changes everything when you know your two middle children plan to go the next morning to sign on the dotted line to join the United States military. And sign they do. She leaves in September. Mama grieves. Daddy cannot understand because he is so proud he is busting his buttons until the day it dawns on him that she is actually leaving.  Christmas that year changes too. We have our traditional Christmas Brunch twice. He leaves for boot camp five days before she comes home for Christmas. Mama grieves. The first the yellow ribbon is on the mail box and more on the Christmas tree.

Oh, the places we go...
Road tripping to boot camp. Parade in Review. Mama's heart beats a proud cadence: "We are the Navy, the mighty, mighty Navy...". The next time we fly. Great Lakes in February is mighty, mighty cold.

A year in Monterey at the Presidio. Mama misses out but a special someone makes it there. A Sweet Sailor comes home to get married. Foregoing yellow we beribbon the church in blue and brown.  The Biker extends his annual bike ride south all the way to Pensacola to take a sailor to dinner. We celebrate a Hawaiian Christmas, a gift from sailor. Pearl Harbor. Hickam Field. Waikiki. Hanauma Bay.  All the family gathers in his unfurnished apartment at Mililani Manor. We decorate a pineapple with purple ribbon and watch ribbons of oil rise from the USS Arizona.

Hawaii again. This time Mama keeps the watch in a square chair at Tripler. Jaw surgery is brutal and it is successful.  The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Punchbowl Crater and the Foster Botanical Gardens, both in Honolulu. And the ribbons of light coming into Phoenix.

We have Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant in Virginia Beach and we visit a little house in Augusta, Georgia. There is a blue ribbon on the mailbox to welcome our little Georgia Peach.

There are many comings and goings. Sighs and tears. Surprise visits and anticipated homecomings. At some point a bright yellow bandana becomes the permanent yellow ribbon on the front door. It weathers and fades. Then, after six years, they come home. In August the Sweet Sailor finishes her enlistment. They pack up the little Georgia house, the little Georgia Peach and move home. Three months later the Super Sailor follows suit from Virginia Beach. He is home in time for Christmas. There are job offers coming in from all over. In January his life starts over again, this time in Houston.

There are still comings and goings and Texas is too far away. The yellow ribbon is no longer on the door. Today there is red, white and blue to celebrate our freedom. Freedom that they stood watch for away from home and family. We are proud and we thank you.

Keep a yellow ribbon tied around your heart for those still coming home from far away places and far too many kinds of battles. Wear red shoes for courage.

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