What time is it?

I was talking to a woman who works with military personnel. She asked if I could schedule an event from 13:00 to 16:00 for her. Then she apologized for using military time. I laughed. I learned to tell time by military time.

When my first-grade class was learning to tell time, we were strictly analog. The teacher asked me what time it would be if the big hand was on 12 and the little hand was on one. I asked if it was daytime or nighttime. Mrs. Damon said, “Nighttime.” I told her it would be oh one hundred hours . So Mrs. Damon said, “And daytime?” I told her 13 hundred hours. She took me to the teacher’s lounge to show the other teachers what she was up against.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Now, my dad was not military. However, he worked on governmental contracts and field tested equipment, went on maneuvers, and traveled for long periods of time with the military. He had regularly scheduled meeting with the brass at the Pentagon and at various military installations across the country. We had military personnel at our dinner table from the time I was an infant. As a toddler, I had a little storybook that I would take to every one of those men, plop it on their lap, and say, “Read.” They all did! Mom tried to stop that practice, but neither the men nor I were interested.

When I would take the book to my mom or dad to read, they would try to skip pages. I’d say, “No, no, no,” and turn back to the page before the ones skipped. The service members had no problem reading every single page.

There was a trade-off. I learned military time and alphabet. My dad and the servicemen considered those my parlor tricks. I could tell them, across all branches of service, who outranked the others in the room; I could tell them what time it was in military time; I could say the alphabet using the military alphabet, and I knew the the military ranks on sight. In another year, I was able to properly use the term “need to know.”

Mom was not a fan of military culture bleeding over into civilian culture. A colonel called one day, asking for dad. Dad was not home, so mom said she would take a message. It did not end well for the colonel:

“Thank you, Mr. X, I will give him the message.”

“That’s Col. X!”

“Excuse me. Of course. The title “Mr.” is used for gentlemen. Goodbye.”

Col. X was especially polite to my mom from that point on, but I understand he changed his tone and behavior for the better to all civilians from that point forward.

By the time I hit my tweens, dad would come home after a month or more on maneuvers and say “I want you home by 18 hundred hours,” which raised my mom’s hackles, I would respond “In civilian time, please.” Mom would smile and dad would say, “You’re really going to start that now?” I’d nod to mom and dad would say, “6:00. That’s PM.”

This has been charlie, alpha, tango, papa, alpha. Out.

Dan and Mom in Space

Today, Wally Funk, 82, became the oldest person to fly in suborbital space. She trained as an astronaut in the 60s when women were not allowed to become astronauts. As I was watching, I couldn’t help but think of Dan and mom one Christmas.

Dan was fascinated with space exploration. He was going to be the first Chaffee in space. When Roger Chaffee was named as one of the crew members for Apollo One, Dan was both thrilled and disappointed. He wrote a letter to Astronaut Chaffee and, to his surprise and delight, Dan received a lovely letter in return.

Excitement turned to horror and grief on January 27, 1967. Dan never again spoke about becoming an astronaut. But that came later, after my story.

In this June 2021 image, our Sun’s glint beams off the Indian Ocean as the International Space Station orbited 269 miles above south of western Australia. NASA.GOV

My older brother Scott was in the army, stationed in Germany and away from home on Christmas. We were spending Christmas at my grandparents. Santa brought Dan a space helmet — the space capsule was awaiting him at home. Dan was also interested in becoming a newscaster as a fall back career, so as a present to Scott, Dan taped interviewed the first woman in space — Mom.

The only thing I remember from that interview Dan asking if the helmet was a problem. Mom said she didn’t wear a helmet because it mussed her hair. The look on Dan’s face and my mom’s efforts to keep from laughing were front-of-mind today when Wally Funk finally made it to space.

I’m sure Dan and Mom were watching.

Tadpole Crossing

Shopping with mom was always an adventure. She hated shopping from the time she was a little girl, she hated shopping. Her mother would take her to the store to buy a new bonnet and the sales people would oooh and aaah over the chubby baby. Mamie (mom’s mom) would set her up on the counter and mom would sweep all the bonnets onto the floor. She’d fuss as they tried to try things on her. From then on she was a terror at shopping.

On the other hand, she bought the best presents! Long before online shopping, there was mail order and mom rocked those catalogues: Montgomery Ward and Sears Christmas catalogues were the best! At holiday time she would get so many catalogues, the mailbox was overflowing every day. Russ Emenheiser, the postmaster of the local office, would have to put them aside and hand them off when mom went in to collect her mail. If the weather was bad or the number of catalogues was overwhelming, Russ would hand deliver. He and his family lived two doors down.

Sears Christmas Wish Book 1960
Sears Christmas Wish Book 1960
Continue reading “Tadpole Crossing”

A living memorial? Or a home?

Several months after mom’s death, I sorted through clothes and some personal items, but I never quite go around to going through the bulk of what was left behind. I moved into the bedroom and that was about it.

It was beginning to feel like a living memorial to mom. Not only is mom not coming back, now that she’s fully in her right mind again, she wouldn’t want to.

There are many things I want to do, but no money for anything major. No pulling up the carpet and laying a wood floor. No kitchen reno. So I’ve come up with ideas of things I can do on my tight budget.

I can paint the linoleum floor in the kitchen, the kitchen cabinets, and eventually get a new counter top and sink. The carpet — there’s nothing I can do but get it cleaned — eventually. Area rugs on top of that.

This past month I started digging in for reals.

Continue reading “A living memorial? Or a home?”

Last goodbye

I’ve always been one for symbolism, patterns and signs from the cosmos. When the stars align, everything feels “right.”

Of course, mom was there when I took my first breath. That I was there for her last and it was just the two of us at the end, felt right.

So, scattering mom’s ashes on my birthday felt logical, natural, symbolic, and “right.”  We said our first “hello” on the day of my birth; today, we said our last goodbye.

Mom has been set free, scattered where she requested. I kept my promise.

%d bloggers like this: