Posted in Veterans, women trailblazers

Jesse Channels the Tuskegee Airmen

Jesse (dear hubby) is sitting at table in his usual routine, reading the paper. The morning is lovely, clear and sunny.  Rush hour is slowing down and we’re sipping the last bit of coffee, half regular, half decaf. We’re watching our caffeine intake. I’m done writing my morning pages and ready to get back to homework.

Suddenly he announces, “I think I’ll go down to the Marriott and see if I can volunteer.”

“For what?” I’m baffled.We’re already involved in two community organizations. Why does he want to add another? And why there?

I look at my husband searching for any telltale signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s or sarcastic humor which, trust me, is uncharacteristic.  We’ve been together going on 30 years. Jesse is a serious guy and joking around just isn’t his  style.

He rustles the paper, turning to the business section.

“Are they having a special program like AARP or something?” I’m trying to be nice,  …interested rather than irritated.

He stares at the newspaper.

“Let me approach this another way.You mean THE Marriott? The expensive Marriott down the street? I think people usually work there, honey. I don’t think they have volunteer opportunities. I could be wrong though.” Just to be friendly and supportive, I stand behind his shoulders with my hand on his back and peer into the newspaper searching for a notice for a special event. Jesse’s a good man, at times, brilliant. Mostly, he’s a plodder, devoted, and totally predictable. And he can be psychic.

“I just want to go down there. I can see if they need some extra help.” He’s looking at me as if I’m the goofy one. Why don’t I easily understand his urge, or is it an impulse?  Perfectly normal idea. Volunteer at one the most luxurious, over the top resort hotels in area. Silently I wonder who I can call.

Now I’m looking at his pupils to see if they are even. In first aid class we learned that if a person is having a stroke, they have uneven pupils and talk nonsense. I don’t see signs of stroke.

“Well…ok….I still don’t understand exactly what it is you are trying to do.” I’m cool with a measured response.

He’s getting impatient with me, almost pushy. “It doesn’t hurt to try. Maybe they would be interested in a woodcarving demonstration. I’m going down there.”

I sigh. Mom never warned me about how men age. I know my husband can be really stubborn, and I am also willful at times, but this? I decide to let it go.

“Whatever you want to do is fine with me. But right now I’m not interested. I really need to study for my final in community services and ethics.

My calm exterior is false. I do not understand men. He wants to go down to see if he can volunteer at an over $350 per night luxury grand hotel. Fine. The conversation repeats itself a few more times during the next few days. For a moment, I’m considering a trial separation. I decide to ignore it. Finally, he’s ready to  make an inquiry and drives the few miles to the hotel. He returns later grumbling about how huge the place is, and how the floors are too shiny. He walks with a cane, so the sheer size of the place deters him. I don’t ask too many questions.

Next day on Sunday, we make peace and venture down to Mimi’s Cafe, near the resort where they serve authentic Louisiana food such as gumbo and jambalaya, plus classic delicious pot roast, as well as fresh salads and veggie wraps.

We settle into our favorite booth, as the manager and casual acquaintance, Curtis, comes by the table.

“Hey you guys, how are you? Where have you been?”

Jesse and Curtis chat easily the way African-American  men may do.

“Did you hear that some of the  original Tuskegee Airmen were here a few days ago?” Curtis looks excited. He’s a really nice guy, hardworking, and honest.

Now it all clicks.

I’m almost shouting. “You’re kidding! Is that why all those limos were out on Tatum and Deer Valley? Jesse was driving me nuts talking about the Marriott.”  Jesse and I stare at each other.  I don’t want to acknowledge quite yet that my psychic husband was being pulled by ( channeling) some of the most important men in aviation history, American combat, and African-American legacy.

“Yes! They were here! Right across the street at the Marriott.”  Jesse glances at me in astonishment. He’s never smug. And damn it, wasn’t he right again? We both would have loved to attend the celebration. What an honor that would be. Alas, we’ve missed. Jesse certainly felt their presence.

Jesse and Sue 2013 copy.jpg possible blog post

The restaurant is slow in mid-afternoon so Curtis stays longer to chat. He explains to Jesse that the remaining living Tuskeegee Airmen did indeed have a program. Lots of high-end people were in town.

 Curtis goes on to say that an elderly lady had come into Mimi’s to eat. She  related that she herself  was a pilot and helped train the men. Another obscure fact shared is  that one of the airmen was a POW.

   We keep asking questions. Who was the mystery lady?

Could the mystery woman possibly have been Willa Beatrice Brown? No, she passed away in 1992. And she was African-American. Could Curtis have been mistaken?

Now I pay closer attention when Jesse gets in one of those “moods,” not that I concede each one is a true hit, but still…you never know who or what is close by…and who is pulling you to come and visit. Call it what you will, but sometimes the urge to check something out is sheer psi intuition.  Anyone can learn psychic intuition. Others are prone to it since childhood and before.

More on that later.

Love you readers, and thank you for taking the time to visit. Much obliged.

Posted in poetry, social commentary, Veterans, Writing for healing

The List

Amidst the pomp and ceremony
There whispers a voice from the ranks
To battle, to battle,
The hue and cry
Hush, hush, sweet secret
Speak not of lies.

We sent you off to war
For noble causes
To defend and serve
We trained and prodded and tested your nerve.
We championed your departure
Hearts ablaze, flags waving.

During your service we saluted
Blowing kisses, sending care packages
and prayers,
Proudly displaying our bumper stickers,
And talking over counters at grocery stores.
She’s coming home in August,
He’s just been sent overseas.

Yet you returned disheveled, swollen, amputated.
Your rages sneak out at night uncontrolled,
Your glazed eyes became unrecognizable.
Your name and number, once hailed proudly
Are an annoyance to our current financial plan.
And to the regulatory commission of suited bank-rollers
We stuff ourselves with your pain.
After all, your loss is our gain.

Somehow your names did not show up on the list
of people to be treated, You are not included.
We snuffed you out in our waiting-file film noir
Perhaps your info was shredded in some VA forgotten closet
for months and months, while recruiters
search for fresh bodies, fresh boots
To send out again and again,
While losing your secret files, dismissing your case,
Our motive is purely to win the race.

Posted in journal prompts, memoir, Veterans

Gratitude Post 11: Honor

Dad-portrait 2

    I am grateful for honor.

On Veteran’s Day I am grateful for the honor to acknowledge the men and women who serve our country.  My father (left) was in the Army.

Mother’s first husband and her beloved high school sweetheart did not survive. Photo and announcement below. He was killed in Belgium when his hospital got hit.

karl with cue stickNOTICE of Carl's death 2

The concept of honor is about distinction, service, dignity, prestige, cachet and so forth. A superior status or even a dignified stance is implied synonymously with the word “honor.” Honor implies integrity and has cultural value. Is the concept of honor relative to one’s background and geographic location only?

One of the most incredible stories and one that means much to people of the Southwest is the Navajo Code Talkers. If you don’t know their story, please take some time to honor them!

The famous statue of US soldiers on Iwo Jima featured Native American, Ira Hayes.

Personally I am a pacifist, but that is a topic for another time. Thank you, veterans!

Journal prompt: What does honor mean to you personally? How do you experience the concept of honor in your own life?

Copyright © 2013  by Susan E. Rowland