short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Mommy Wore Combat Boots

Mommy was a soldier and an Army officer when I was little. I do not remember a lot about what happened then, but I do remember Mommy's stories about the things that happened.

Mommy says that in those days the Army had a hang-up about gender differences. Officers, for the most part, were men, and mommies usually did not wear combat boots. In fact, she says that it was not even a nice to say to someone that "your mother wears combat boots." I do not see why it is not nice. It is a simply a fact. If your mother puts on those heavy but comfortable black things every morning, then your mother does wear combat books, right?

Anyway, Mommy says that she had to change genders, at least on paper, to become an officer. I know that is true because I saw the piece of paper. It says that Congress appointed my mother "an officer and gentleman in the U. S. Army." Wow! I think I will avoid going near Congress. They sound like an awfully powerful group of people!
Mommy said that another time, she had a meeting with a general. All the unit commanders had to meet with this general. He said, "Please be seated, gentlemen." Mommy did not sit down. She did not think that he was talking to her. (Guess she forgot about that piece of paper from Congress.) Another commander, who was her friend, pulled her down. He said that this was not the place to make a stand for women's lib. (I do not think that Mommy was making a stand for women's lib; I think she just forgot about Congress making her a gentleman.)

Yet another time, Mommy arrived at Fort Dix, New Jersey for a training exercise. There were lots of tents so that everyone who was there for training could have a place to sleep. There were seven tents for male soldiers, one tent for female soldiers, and one officer's tent. And then there was Mommy. Where to put the one female officer was a big, important question. Senior officers had to have a special meeting just to find Mommy a bed. They seemed to think that they had two choices: Put Mommy with the women or put Mommy with the officers. Finally, they decided. They put Mommy with the officers.

Mommy says that having kids can have a deleterious effect on one's ability to soldier. I am not sure what deleterious means, but maybe it has to do with getting weird looks. For example, Mommy got weird looks the day she had to report to her new commanding officer, after having taken my sister with her to the bank. It probably had something to do with what the commanding officer saw when Mommy turned around to leave. Stuck on the back of her green Army uniform skirt was a bright red lollipop, where my sister, after taking a few licks, had stored the treasure handed to her at the bank.

Mommy also got weird looks when she met another new commanding officer for the first time. She was signing in for summer reserve duty at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and I was with her. I was still a baby at the time and was walking around the upstairs in my walker where the sign-in was taking place when I discovered another whole world—a set of interesting rooms, separated from me only by a staircase. Bounce! Bounce! I was on my way to exploring the new world. Mommy's new commander was walking up the stairs, and I bounced right into his arms. At the end of her reserve duty, my Mommy got the "Bouncing Baby" award. I was so proud! I helped my Mommy get an award!

Another time, when my other sister was very little—I think the old word for my sister's age is "suckling"—Mommy was in officer training in Anniston, Alabama. Daddy would pick up Mommy after training every day, and Mommy would nurse my sister as they drove back to the apartment that Daddy and my sisters shared. (Mommy could not live there; she had to live on post.) Before Mommy left post with Daddy and my baby sister, she would change into civilian clothes in her barracks room. One day, the Military Police stopped Daddy and Mommy. The car had an officer's decal, and they were confused. Daddy did not look like an officer. He was overweight and had a beard. Mommy did not look like an officer. She had long hair and was nursing a baby. They said, there was a bet at the MP barracks about who the officer in the car was.
"So," they asked, "Who is the officer?"

Mommy and Daddy looked at each other and replied at the same time, "The baby!"

They were kidding. I think the MPs knew that. I wonder, though, who won the bet.

Americans are not the only ones who are not used to women officers. The Koreans have a problem, too. Once, years after she left military service, Mommy had a meeting with a colonel from the Korean Army. In the conversation, someone else at the meeting said that Mommy had been a U.S. Army officer. The Korean colonel was surprised. He was so surprised that he did not say anything for a long time. As it turned out, he was not only surprised, he was also embarrassed that someone would tell him this. Finally, looking down, he said quietly, "Yes, I understand. Women can be very good at getting secrets out of men."

Mommy did not like that much. She said he did not understand even though he said he did understand.

Conclusion Mommies who wear combat boots should be prepared for people who do not understand their attire.

This story is excerpted from a collection of vignettes that I helped Doah, my severely mentally challenged youngest son, to write and publish several years ago (copyright 2003). It was my attempt to help him understand literacy and the purpose of writing and reading.

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About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.