AND THEN AGAIN……by Tamara Pettit

…….The military banners hung in New Cumberland are awesome.   I wasn’t prepared for the emotional reaction I would have when I saw my Dad’s  banner hung on the corner of Pearl and Chester Street right where his office used to be.  So many thanks go to George & Milli Hines, Tammy Jenkins and Chickie Skinner who took the project from a concept to reality and in between dealt with the devil that was in the details.  There were 84  veterans whose photos and records had to be kept straight and as I drove through town (braking at each banner) I am amazed at how banners are placed near the veterans’ home or business.   Thanks also to the volunteers who hung the banners. 

……I have no memory of my Dad in the sailor suit.  That time in his life occurred before I was even born.  My sister, Marsha,  was born prior to WW II  and  was only two when he departed to serve in the Pacific.  She was too young to really remember what he looked like and my Mom would always tell her that was her Daddy in that picture.   My Mom told a story about taking Marsha on a bus to Steubenville once and Marsha spotted a sailor on the bus.  She went up to him and asked “are you my Daddy?”    Anytime, Marsha spied a sailor from then on in,  Mom had to let her know that person was not her Daddy.  We were one of the lucky families because Dad came home and life resumed.  As I drive past each banner  I think “They served so that we could be here in the town that was their hometown, too.”

…….I will always remember the telegram the late John Kuzio showed me that he sent to his parents when he was discharged.  It simply said “I’m coming home!”

…….Which makes it all the more important to vote.  Tomorrow (Saturday) is the last day to early vote.  I’m a great proponent of early voting.  You never know what could happen on Election Day:  a car accident, appendicitis, a family emergency.    So do like I do.  Vote early and ensure your vote is counted.  Remember, those veterans gave a part of their time on earth to make sure you have the right to have a say in our Nation, State’s and County’s future.

…….Mother’s Day.   Always feel like I should get my kids a present for raising me.   I was 19 when I had Doug, 22 when I had Shannon and  If ever there was  a job for which I was unprepared, it was that of being a mother.  I had no younger brothers and sisters or little cousins to take care of growing up,  so babies were an unknown specie to me.     I didn’t go the route of baby sitting to make spending money.   I viewed my sister’s kids, all five of them, as a  motley  crew  best to be observed from a safe distance lest they throw up on my new outfit or worse yet, require me to do something with them.   I only took them on once when I watched them so my sister could go to a wedding.   I spent an entire meal buttering bread for them,  cutting their food and squashing their squabbles.  I had the temerity to turn off the TV before Batman was over to announce it was time to eat.   Tamera, the oldest,  ran away from home to my Dad’s who lived next door.    There are some things you just don’t do, I was told.  Turning off Batman was one of those things.  A repeat performance was not requested.

…..All in all,  I was not impressed with the job description for motherhood and  I knew I didn’t begin to possess even the most elementary skills.   How babies got diapered, burped and fed was better left to those whose calling in life included kids.    I did not play with baby dolls and spent my formative years  curled up with books.  I had  aspirations of writing books that made the Hardy Boys look like wimps.   But, worst, of all, I had no common sense.   I think common sense is the most important factor in raising a child and I was bereft of it.

……But, Motherhood is really the only job in which “love conquers all.”       I had no clue when I held my first born in my arms and took his little hand in mine that a bond with tentacles as strong as steel was threading its way into my heart and my brain.   Within a nanosecond  the molecules in my brain had altered and yes, my heart expanded in a way I had not thought possible.      Suddenly my  focus became those two little humans whose ability to survive the world  seemed contingent on my ability to keep them out of harm’s way.   I worked hard to fulfill my responsibility…sometimes too hard.

…….My kids don’t know about that bond … they stretched it as they tried to claim their independence.    What neither of them ever realized was  that the bond had become like a plaster of  Paris mold  and despite their efforts to assert themselves they would turn around….and there I was with an enduring, unequivocal,  illogical love that withstood the test of time and defied circumstance.      That love  hung in there when they revealed they were picking  their noses and depositing  the contents on the arm of the only chair in my living room that wasn’t second hand.  It’s a love wasn’t  shaken when the same two kids played ring around the rosy with a rope; tied the babysitter up in a chair; climbed  out the window to play; and returned only in time to untie her before I arrived home.  It’s a love that continues to take my breathe away as they matured into adults and then morphed  into wonderful parents.    

…..Had I known more at 19, I would have been terrified of the tremendous responsibility I held in my arms.  Had my kids had any knowledge of how clueless their mom was in the skills of motherhood, they would have yelled foul and tried to trade me in for an older more stable model.   Isn’t it wonderful that we didn’t know better?      I got the two most wonderful gifts in the world and they got a work in progress.  Happy Mother’s Day!