A Kiss for Daddy

July 28, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

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.

Mama cried.

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?

About Jane Thornton

Jane Thornton, English teacher, wife, and mom of two almost grown children, strives to break free of the automatic boring label attached to those roles. Her two suspense novels eagerly await a willing publisher, and her articles search for inspiration in the humor and tears of life.
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7 Responses to “A Kiss for Daddy”
  1. Beautiful, Jane. Thank you for sharing the sacrifice so many have made, and continue to make, for our country.

  2. Bud Reed says:

    Ahhh, my Janie Beth. Your love still shows through and I can just see Nanners kissin’ the machine. Beautiful memory. Thanks for sharing it with us

    Uncle Bud

  3. Earlene says:

    Thank you for the beautiful remembrance of your family and the sacrifices by all. You are a talented lady.

  4. Lee Carver says:

    It was 1973. We had a young son, and hoped to expand our family. Darrel left for a 4-month Naval aviation deployment, flying to Alaska, the Phillipines, and Midway Island. Had we gotten the deed done? I paced, counted the days, and waited. Beginning to believe that I really had conceived, I then became irritated that he hadn’t found a way to call back. I got a message through to him to call home. After giving him the good news, I asked why he hadn’t called to find out if I were pregnant. In his remarkably calm manner, he said, “Well, I figured you either were or you weren’t and I couldn’t do anything about it from here.”
    And yes, we did the taped messages. The trick was to keep baby Kelly from eating the microphone. (Slurp, slurp)

  5. Great story, Jane.
    My only military-related experience is when my son joined the Marines. The date he’d leave for boot camp changed several times, so we planned a beach trip to South Padre Island here in TX, thinking that if he was still here, we’d enjoy our last family vacation with him. But the morning that we had planned to leave Tor South Padre was the day they picked him up and took him down to the induction center. We followed him down and waited with him, until the last minute before we had to leave in order to keep our reservation. I was fine until I stood up to hug him. Suddenly, I was crying so hard I couldn’t get any words out. And then we had to walk past all the other mothers who were still waiting with their sons and I was leaving to go to the beach. Needless to say, it was a soggy ride to South Padre. It seemed so wrong for us to be enjoying the beach while he was enduring boot camp.

  6. Veronica Hobson says:

    Very nice story, Jane.

  7. Julie Marx says:

    Mmm. Good story, Jane. My father was a naval officer and I married an army officer. Whenever I get the chance, I tell a soldier “thank you” in person. I think one of the best ways to say, “Thank you. I remember your sacrifice” this year is to get out and vote.

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