An Army Brats Promise

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The fall colors don’t seem as bright as they were in years past.  The autumn sun, still feels warm on my face but I don’t seem to be warmed by it.  The cool balmy breeze still tells me that winter and the Holidays will soon be here.  My heart screams “My Daddy’s gone!!”  I know that he would say “come on Ah-gee be strong-life goes on, you know what you have to do.”  So I get up every morning, put on my  smile.  Jim Carson’s  daughter Alley, carries on.  I do what is right, like I always do and always will, even though I am not feeling it because he asked me too.   My Daddy is gone and this time he’s not coming back.  Then-I remember my promise.

An Army brats promise. ” Don’t worry Daddy.   I’ll take care of Mama and the other kids.  They’ll be safe with me, I promise.”

When one chooses to serve, their whole family serves.  Come hell or high water as my Daddy use to say.

When I was a little girl, my Father had to leave us a lot, to serve our country.  He would tell me what to do while he was away.  The list was always long and complex in many ways-which those who know my family can only understand.  I did not mind.  I loved my Daddy and he loved his country, the Army and us.  I am still not sure in what order.   Many times I use to wonder, what if Daddy did not come back.  It scared me so much that I would put it out of my mine and think instead of happy things- like what we would do when he got back.

I use to dream that I could put my arms out and the wind would pick me up and I could guide myself like one would a horse and I could go anywhere even where my Daddy was.  It felt so real, so wonderful but just a dream.

When I was eleven, I got childhood cancer.  Those were the days when cancer was a positive death sentence.  My Daddy would say now come on Ah-gee you hang in there you can beat this.  Toughen up.  So I fought the good fight, even though the Doctors said that I would not make it out of surgery let alone live long enough for the new radiation treatments.  I made it, just like my Daddy said I would and had asked me to.

When it came time for the radiation treatments, I was so weak that I was using a wheel chair.  The Radiation was flown in to Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Aurora , Colorado.  I watched the odd men in protective outfits bring it in.  I listen as the Doctor gave me instructions on what to do after my radiation treatment.   I would have to take an elevator to the tunnels underground, follow the arrows in the tunnel and then ride another elevator to my room.  Alone, because the amount of radiation I would receive was a danger to anyone else.  I did as instructed a couple of times and then one day in the middle of the tunnel, I could not breathe.  I was weak, sweating and I could not make my arms move the wheel chair forward anymore.  My eyes could not focus.  A voice came over the radio and asked “ Alley, where are you?”  I could only answer,  “I don’t know, I can’t go any more.”   I think I pasted out and I woke to hear the radio again.  I replied that I would try.  Then suddenly I heard my Daddy’s voice “Ah—gee, wait, I’ll push you the rest of the way.  I don’t remember much after that only that I thought I dreamt it, but I did not.  The nurses told me, my Daddy came into the tunnel when everyone else would not, to help me.

Daddy later told me that the Doctors told him if there was ever a radiation fall out, he would be one of the first to go as he had been over exposed to radiation.  He replied “ I got news for you Doc, if there is ever a national fall out we are all goners.”

I lived to have four children and three grandchildren, even though they said I would not.  I also lived to experience the rejection of fair employment, insurance, etc.. that cancer survivors experience their whole life’s.   I like to call it the punishment for beating the odds and cheating death.  You know- if you die of cancer you lose one battle however if you beat cancer you live to fight many battles because you survived and it seems our world prefers to punish us for it.  Instead they should say, “that a girl, you are a winner,  we are going to back you 100%.”    Another story for another day.

Three years ago at age 82 my Daddy was told he had Esophagus cancer.  In the last three years, he, my Mother, I and family fought as hard as we could to save him.  We lost this battle (it really felt more like a war) on 09-09-09 at 9:20 Pm.

I was there giving my Daddy his pain medicine when he could not bare the pain anymore.  I was there holding his hand, praying, and hoping that his pain would soon be over at the same time praying for another miracle.   When I heard his breathing change, I knew his time was near.  I knew he could hear me so I told him, that he was a great solider, good husband to Mama, the world’s best Daddy and that I would never want any Daddy but him.  I told him that I knew we would see each other again, and that I would take care of Mama and the other kids just like he always asked me to do, just as I always had promised.   Then he left, he was gone.

I believe God came into the tunnel to take my Daddy the rest of the way- like my Daddy did me those long years ago.

I remember and will keep my promise.  I hope America keeps its promise to all the families who choose to serve.

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