Sunday, September 17, 2006
Family Photo, News
It is increasingly difficult to get our far-flung family all together. So you can imagine our pleasure on Sept 9-10 to have it happen. Here’s a shot of all of us.
From the left; son Nathan, 26, living and working in Portland, Oregon (who will graciously let me sleep on his couch when I’m there for the Marathon on Oct 1); son Matt, 18, a senior in High School, working hard on college applications right now; grandson Andrew, 2.5, desperately trying to get loose from this photo shoot; son David, 28, husband and father of three; granddaughter Berneice, 3 months old and conversant on theoretical subtleties of the space-time continuum; daughter-in-law Susan, Rutgers engineer and mother of these three; grandson Nathan, also 2.5, a very busy boy; and my wife Gretchen, who keeps everyone in touch.
Gretchen and I had such a wonderful time having everyone together for the weekend. At one point, we looked at each other and wondered aloud how two college kids who fell in love in the early 70s could have ended up with nine people now in the clan. Little did we know then. And we are in awe and grateful for it now.
The occasion for the get together was David’s deployment for his second 12-month stint in Iraq. He leaves here today, Sept 17, will meet up with his unit in Colorado for a couple weeks of final preparations and head to Baghdad via Kuwait in early October. He’s back to being Sgt Ely, Army medic, helping to keep our troops alive, in addition to dispensing a lot of medical treatment to regular Iraqis. Susan and the kids remain here in town.
It is an odd feeling to have your firstborn in harms way, in a very dangerous place. Not something I would have ever imagined or dreamed. Yet, it happened once and now we embark on it again. As you might imagine, news from Iraq has added punch for us. I feel a pit in my stomach when I hear of an American soldier killed there; some parent is receiving the word we most dread to hear. Yet me worrying will not keep David one iota safer. As a follower of Christ, I do believe my prayers make a difference. And I’m very glad for other soldiers’ sakes that he is near to them, a trained, experienced combat medic. He can save lives, literally, something few of us can say. So, we deal with it and hope the year goes quickly.
When I said good bye to David yesterday, he strongly suggested we say “see you later” rather than “good bye”; that is wise. Do your job well, my son. See ya later.
Persevere. David will. We all will.