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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Illiad & Me.

In 1995, I returned from an overseas deployment. It was short even by Clinton-Peace-Era standards, only ten weeks. I got off the boat in my whites, complete with my eagle-adorned cover, to hug and kiss my wife and ten month old son. It was my first such return, and I was as emotional as my wife.
Hector stretched his arms towards his child, but the boy cried and nestled in his nurse's bosom, scared at the sight of his father's armour, and at the horse-hair plume that nodded fiercely from his helmet.
Jimmy clutched his mom tightly and started to cry once he was in my arms. It was clear that he didn't recognize me. We tried to shrug it off, I think, and his mom took him back. But, once we got home, I took out the Dr. Seus book that I had read to him on a video tape--a video tape that he and his mother watched while I was away.
His father and mother laughed to see him, but Hector took the helmet from his head and laid it all gleaming upon the ground. Then he took his darling child, kissed him, and dandled him in his arms, praying over him the while to Jove and to all the gods. "Jove," he cried, "grant that this my child may be even as myself, chief among the Trojans; let him be not less excellent in strength, and let him rule Ilius with his might. Then may one say of him as he comes from battle, 'The son is far better than the father.' May he bring back the blood-stained spoils of him whom he has laid low, and let his mother's heart be glad.'"
Upon hearing my familiar voice and the familiar words, Jimmy recognized me, and I felt our bond as father and son was restored. I prayed a silent prayer of thanksgiving to be home and to be able to hold my son again. I suspect Pat did as well.
With this he laid the child again in the arms of his wife, who took him to her own soft bosom, smiling through her tears.
We still have those videos of me reading to Jimmy, who now goes by James, but since we can't even talk about them without choking up, we haven't ever watched them. Too soon.

I hope things turn out as well for Hecktor as they did for me. I'm only through Book VI.

4 comments:

BP said...

Thanks for sharing a poignant snapshot of the sacrifices military members and their families make.

Luke Gentry said...

Great post.

kle said...

A truly touching story. I see why James likes to write.

Josh Gentry said...

Love to see such a personal connection to stories.