Honoring Our Veterans

My Dad

Tomorrow, November 11, is Veteran’s Day. Since it falls the day before my birthday, I’ve never forgotten this holiday. Kids tend to notice when they don’t get their birthday cards on the birthday thanks to a holiday they don’t understand.

Of course, now I understand the importance of this day and urge you to honor our veterans. Below is my traditional post honoring my father’s service.

Blessed Legs

I thought all men’s legs looked like that—harsh crevices outlining the muscles, puckering around the edges. Long gashes ran down his thighs, the shape of a huge eye to my youthful imagination.

I stared at them, not because they were unusual, but because they were at eye level.

Dad stood at the bathroom sink every morning, the scrape, scrape of his razor rasping away his overnight beard growth. Water trickled in the sink, swishing when he rinsed.

I sat on the floor or on the cool edge of the tub and watched the foamy white cream disappear behind each stroke.

His legs were not my focus, but children see what’s at eye level, soaking it in. I saw Dad’s legs.

I accepted those legs as sculpted and muscular. Not the ravaged remains of skin grafts after a bomb in France blew up beside a young soldier. War warranted a brief mention in my childhood years, the reason behind Dad’s missing finger. I imagined his finger shot off while he peered over the edge of a dirt embankment. I was much older before I learned the truth. That my father, six months into his stint in the war, experienced the unfortunate luck of a bomb exploding next to him as he escorted prisoners to their holding place. I can still see the look of wonder on his face when he told me that those same German prisoners carried him to safety after the explosion.

Dad was nineteen. He spent the rest of his life missing a finger, living with tinnitus, carrying shrapnel around in his shoulders, and standing on the most beautiful legs I ever knew a man to have.

Later, when I noticed other men’s legs, I knew the difference. I realized the beauty of the surgeon’s renderings saved my father’s life, grafting skin where he needed it most.

To me his legs represented normal, and with my growing awareness of their true meaning, beautiful. I don’t know if Dad ever realized how I saw his legs, but the daughter in me hopes that somehow he felt my innocent acceptance as a blessing.

Today, please take a moment to acknowledge our veterans and those who gave everything in service to our country.

This post originally appeared in print in The Petigru Review, Vol. 7. Editor Tibby Plants.
South Carolina Writers’ Workshop, 2013, 125-126.
It, also, won an Honorable Mention in the
80th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.

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Keep Your Eyes On the Groom

Courtesy of pixabay.com

 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
 Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
 Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.”  Revelations 19:6-8

I’ve never seen a bride who wasn’t radiant. Dress her in the raiments of her wedding, and she glows with a joy we all want to capture.

This past weekend, our youngest son married his bride. As I’ve done for years, instead of looking first at the bride, I watched the groom, our son, as she first appeared at the end of the aisle. If you’ve never done that, then try it next time. The bride will remain radiant, don’t worry, you won’t miss a thing. But the groom only catches his first glimpse once. Make sure you see it.

We’ve had three of our children marry, so far. With each one, I watched the groom first.

Our son Chris had a nervous smile on his face that turned to consternation as his bride took longer than expected to step out of the limo that delivered her to their garden wedding. The moment she alighted, his face transformed with relief, joy, and happiness. I’ve never seen his smile as big as I did that day.

When our daughter Terri approached her husband-to-be, I watched tears cloud his eyes. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. When she came close enough, he couldn’t help himself. “Wow,” he whispered as he drank in the sight of her.

This past weekend Nathan stood stiffly at the front of the church, waiting. When they opened the doors to reveal his bride, he grinned, his gaze focused solely on her. I waited. This son is more reserved than the others and I sensed him holding back. Then I saw it, a great big gulp, his Adam’s apple wobbling with the emotion he couldn’t contain.

Each of these lovely daughters of mine caught a glimpse of what awaits us on the day when Christ receives his bride, the church. A wedding is the perfect time to get a hint of the joy we’ll experience on that day, when we are presented in fine linen, bright and clean. I can’t begin to imagine our joy. But I believe the joy on Christ’s face will outshine our joy like the sun blocks out the stars.

Come To Serve, Not Be Served

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

This week I flew to Orlando. No, I didn’t go in search of the fun most people think of when they think of Orlando, Florida: no Disney World, no Universal Studios.

Instead, I went to serve.

One of the truths of serving others is we gain more than if we’d gone in search of being served.

My class was fantastic. They were fun. They listened, engaged with me, and embraced the training I provided.

I haven’t had much opportunity to travel in the past two years. Being the guardian of two young children tends to rein in the ability to leave town for several days week after week.

My grandchildren’s counselor got excited when I told her I had been away for three days. “Did you read? Did you relax? Did you get some peace and quiet?”

Nope. I got less sleep than I would at home. I worked right up until bedtime preparing for the next day. I spent as much time as I could with the other trainers when I wasn’t in the classroom.

But I found joy in this.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus found times of peace and solitude, but he came to serve, not to be served. And in so doing, I believe he found joy. If he’d grumped around tired and worn out, no one would have followed him. Just a few verses later, Paul alludes to this:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16

So serving is where it’s at.  I served and through that service I received:

  • Time with old friends
  • A new friend whom I hope will become a great friend
  • Conversations with people about what matters to them and seeing their eyes light up
  • Laughter, lots of it
  • Heartfelt thanks for helping people do their jobs well
  • The camaraderie of 45 trainees I will probably never see again, but who touched my life in a very positive way
  • A change of pace for a few days
  • Service from those hired to make sure I had everything I needed to do my job well, including:
    • Waiters who brought me non-dairy milk
    • Food servers who replenished the buffet just as I reached the empty dishes
    • Meeting event people who made sure I had everything I needed and did so without complaint
    • Trainers who jumped in with tips and tricks
    • Several assistant “trainers” who made sure my classroom kept moving forward
    • Managers (internal and external) who checked with me on time and needs
  • Safe trips there and back
  • A husband who stepped up to care for the grandchildren by himself while I was gone (I know how hard this is)

Where do you serve?