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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Periscope of Time

Daddy served in the Pacific theatre during World War II on a submarine that was more like a prize in a cereal box than the sleek, nuclear vessels of today. When I was a kid I thought he was a great adventurer, having seen both oceans during his travels. It never occurred to me there might be more to see; more water than two oceans could hold.

My boundaries were limited by the amount of space I could imagine, and I was already pushing the envelope when I went the distance to the dime store downtown. Dad would laugh and shake his head at my excitement when he talked about being stationed on Hawaii or seeing Mount Fuji through the periscope.

“Did you ever see the Hollywood sign?” I asked once, my voice filled with wide-eyed wonder.

He grinned. “If I had, I’d have been going the wrong direction.”

When I was older, he sent for a copy of a Reader’s Digest book that showed all sorts of wonderful places to visit. That book visited more exotic getaways on the way to my mailbox than I've seen to this day. I’m not sure I believed it was real.

One year after I was grown and somewhat of an Authority on The Way Things Are, Son One conducted an interview with his Papa for a school report. He didn’t ask the same questions I’d gone on about as a kid, “Where did you go?” and “Did you bring anything back in case you ever had a little girl that needed a surprise?”

He asked about torpedo tubes, leaky oxygen bottles, depth charges, and assorted unpleasant ideas that made the war seem uncomfortably close and noisy. It finally seeped into my me-generation brain that if the folks causing the unpleasantness on top of the water had taken a page from Luke “Stay on Target” Skywalker’s book, I wouldn’t be around today to tell clever stories about other people’s adventures.

For the first time, I realized that tour of duty didn’t mean tour of luxury vacation spots. It meant that he did indeed bring something back from his travels. Memories.

My memories come from sitting in the comfort of Daddy’s lap and listening to tales of a faraway war that was already won. His memories come from standing in the face of danger and showing his heart.

His memories are of men who gave their lives so that I could look at pictures in a book and have hopes of traveling to them one day. Of men and women that knew what it meant to serve with mind and body and make whatever sacrifice it took to preserve the minds and bodies back home.

My heartfelt thanks go out to all of these men and women. And to you, Dad.

On Memorial Day and every day.

9 comments:

Abby said...

What a lovely post. Happy Memorial's Day!

the Bag Lady said...

Great post, Amy!
My dad served in the Canadian Navy during the war, but he was on a corvette rather than a submarine.

Happy Memorial Day.

Anonymous said...

My Daddy was a bombardier for the US Army Air Corps in the Pacific. Glad he made it home.

Happy Memorial Day

MaryL

Anonymous said...

Aw, Amy, beautiful post.
Nita

Chatty Lady said...

I can't help laughing at the goat, too funny Amy, at any age. Love your post, so many heros in this country of ours. Bless their hearts.
Chatty

colbymarshall said...

Beautiful post. I'm celebrating super big today because my cuz just got home from a nine months duty on aircraft carrier...and he's home now! Happy Memorian Day to you!

gypsyscarlett said...

Beautiful post, Amy!

Amy Mullis said...

Thanks so much to everyone for your wonderful comments, both here and privately through e-mail. It shows that no matter who we are or where we're from, we stand united in love and appreciation for those who give, and have given, their all for our peace and peace of mind.

Nancy said...

Aww, Amy, that was nice!

My Dad was in the South Pacific during WWII, too.