Friday, February 23, 2007

Random connections

Today has been a day of connecting with people for me. I got up and Spence and I went to a Friday drop-in class at his preschool (which in Minnesota is called ECFE [Early Childhood and Family Education], but in Rochester is called PAIIR [Parents Are Important In Rochester]).

That Friday class was a lifesaver for me when I was stranded at home most of the week with 2 tiny kids. I lived for Friday and time with my friends in that classroom, laughing and crying and kvetching and learning that there are millions of ways to be a good parent.

Today the class isn't as necessary in my life, but I am nearing the end of the time when I can attend with a kid. I have joked about having another baby just so I can keep attending PAIIR. LOL

I met a young woman today from Egypt. She has been in class before but today I got to talk with her one-on-one and it turns out she is a lonely at-home mom married to a doctor, so she is pretty isolated and is using this class to meet people and give her kids some playtime with other kids. She looked as overwhelmed as I felt in those years when I was up to my elbows in dirty diapers and laundry. I tried to tell her it gets easier, and I look upon that conversation as a gift to me because I was reminded of how far I have come and how good my life really is.

And then. Wow. I was at the grocery store and had just finished loading my purchases into the car. I turned to walk my cart to the corral and a man said he would take it for me. (I think he heard me talking to Spencer in the car.) He had an NRA hat on. I notice these things because my dad is a lifetime NRA member, and frankly, as a liberal wacko, I am sometimes freaked out by people of that NRA conservative ilk. I said, "Thank you, sir" to him without thinking (a somewhat unconscious throwback to my military days, I think) and got in my van.

He came back to get into the pickup truck parked next to me. It had a back window plastered with stickers, most of which indicated to me that he and I would not be on the same side in most political discussions LOL, and a couple that said he was a veteran. SO I rolled down my window and said thanks from one veteran to another. He was in a chatty mood and said he was 64 years old today. I said, "Well, then you must be a Vietnam vet" and he said yes, then asked if I'd seen the movie "We Were Soldiers." I haven't seen the movie, but I am all too familiar with the story behind it. I highly recommend the book, We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young if you want to learn more about it. Turns out this guy was in (I think he said) the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry and called in the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry to come in and take care of the NVA he found there. Said he had no idea there were that many people there ... that for years he had felt terrible guilt about all of the men who lost their lives in one of the war's fiercest battles. Old soldiers know what to say to each other, so I told him he was just doing his job, just like all those other guys, and that I was sure they all knew that he would have traded places with them in an instant. Damn. Survivor guilt is a bitch.

He gave me his last name and the area town where he lives, and I said goodbye and happy birthday and what a pleasure it was to meet him, and I passed greeting along from my dad, another old soldier who I knew would be interested to hear about this chance encounter.

You may remember (if you are a news junkie like me) a CBS piece on the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. Jack Smith worked at CBS for years, and he was one of the guys who fought in that battle and walked away. He died a few years ago, but

this site has a speech he delivered that is worth reading.

This world gets smaller every day. Meeting people where they are is so important. Acknowledging sacrifices made is so important. Being grateful is so important.

I forget that sometimes. That life moves fast, that all of a sudden you don't have a drooling toddler in your arms but a 5 year old who can't wait to move to the next big accomplishment. That thank you is possibly the most important phrase in the English language.

To all who fought in the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley -- and to all they left behind.

3 comments:

  1. wow! what an encounter! It really makes your day when you have these chance encounters and their all the more important when we get the opporunity to reflect on them and share with others! Thank you.

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  2. Kristine10:34 AM

    Well said Georgina! I don't think I could have expressed it better. Friday was also a day of connections for me, as well as gratitude. It left me energized and bouyant. ...And another strange thing, my mother's name was Jorgina, she passed a year ago, but I have felt her presence strongly through these "connections" and coincidences recently :) Great post Jennifer!

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  3. I'm in the midst of something similar.... Going to try and write about it, but I know I can't do it as eloquently as you. (Mine will no doubt have tons of spelling errors too!)

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