A Kiss for Daddy
By Jane Thornton –
The gray, metal battleship dominated the harbor. In our childish terms, it was humongous. Five, three, and two, my brother, sister, and I gave Daddy’s leg one last hug while he shared a final kiss with Mom.
“We’ll keep in touch.” He hiked his bag over his uniform-clad shoulder and headed for the gangplank.
“I’ll write every day.” Mom held our hands and bit her lip to stop the tears.
In 1965, keeping in touch meant letters. Handwritten, international snail mail. No e-mail. No instant messaging. No Skype. Long weeks between contacts. But we did have some high tech options—tape recorders. We could send cassettes back and forth, and we could hear Daddy’s voice and he could hear ours.
Mom pulled out the compact black box and set the tape rolling. We told Daddy we loved him and shared our daily sagas. We played the piano for him. I’m sure my rendition of Chopsticks brought moisture to his eyes:
Bling, bling, bling, bling, bling, bling,
Blang, blang, blang, blang, blang, blang,
Blamp, blamp, blamp, blamp, blamp, blamp,
BUMP, bump bump, BUMP!
“We got a tape from Daddy!” Mark would holler when he brought in the mail. Our feet would thunder and rattle across the wooden floor of our grandparents’ house, and then we’d skid to a stop by the machine, staring at the plastic strips of the speaker, waiting to hear that deep voice tell us he loved us and missed us.
When the tape ended, Mom pulled out a fresh cassette and plunked it in. We answered Daddy’s questions, asked our own, told him about boo-boos, and played the piano again.
One day, we were riding to the grocery store. Mom drove, and all three kids slid around on the front bench seat. Two-year-old Nanny announced, “I am going to give my daddy a kiss.” With great drama, she leaned down and smacked her lips against the horizontal stripes of plastic that covered the air-conditioning vent.
In Nan’s toddler mind, it made perfect sense that her father was a machine. When Daddy came home about a year later, she adjusted very well to a human man with arms to hug and lips to kiss. Over the years, the laughter over the story outweighed its poignancy, but the tale reminded us of the sacrifice on both sides—given freely for our country.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13 NIV).
Our soldiers not only risk their physical lives, but they give up so much of family life, and we take that for granted.
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10 NIV). Let us not forget either.
Comment Prompt: Do you have a soldier story to share?