Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Marine Corps Him

My dad is a Marine. It's a central fact of his life, as much a part of describing him as saying he has black hair and hazel eyes. He taught me the Marine Corps hymn so early I have no memory of not knowing the lyrics and the tune. He taught me to count cadence before I could actually count and showed me how to do the Queen Anne salute with a stick as soon as I could hold one.

Marines are tough. I know this as surely as I know the sun rises on the halls of Montezuma and sets on the shores of Tripoli, as surely as I know the biscuits in the Army can kill you.

Yesterday Dad drove up just as I was leaving after coffee with Mom. I stopped and asked where he'd been.

"To the doctor," he said in a low, slow voice.

"You okay?" I asked.

"Yeah. Just needed her signature."

"On what?"

"An application for a handicapped parking permit."

The earth trembled on its axis. I did not know what to say that wouldn't bow his shoulders even more, would not drop his head a quarter-inch further. I concentrated on breathing. In and out. In and out.

"Cool. Can I ride with you?"

He laughed a little and rolled up the car window. I drove away quickly, before he could see the tears glistening in my eyes.


kario said...

Oh, Jerri. The fact that he was "man enough" to do this speaks volumes. My dad was also a Marine and each time he had to ask for help was a major blow. I can say that, at the end of his life, caring for him and helping him was one of the greatest joys I have ever had. If only because he let me and his gratitude was immense.

I know you will find a way to let your dad know that, no matter what, he will always be your strong, capable father.


Amber said...



Deb Shucka said...

Laughter and tears hold so much strength. So does love. Enfolding you in all three.

Carrie Link said...

Ditto, Amber.

luckyzmom said...

My daughter often teases that she wishes I would get a handicap sticker so we could park closer when I'm with her. I'm willing to wait til I'm actually handicapped!