by Frank Lazeski
I have a chair that sits in the middle of the garage looking out toward the road where I sit and do my resting and thinking between the activities of the day. I don’t start any project without consulting my “Thinking Chair.” Many a good idea for projects came from that seat. My “Thinking Chair” took me back to some fond memories of my Mom. I wrote this for the Marine Mothers Organization a few years ago. The essay was entitled, “Reflections of an Ex-Marine.” I would like to share a story about a Marine Mom…Mine. When I joined the Marines on January 1, 1964, she was beaming with pride…as was I.
My Mom was then a “young mid-forties.” She remained that way for the next year and a half as I continued my training. Knowing that I was in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare school didn’t bother her much. She was a proud Marine Mother. The six months I spent in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba concerned her a little. After all, it hadn’t been that long since the Bay of Pigs, but she remained young and proud.
Then I got my orders to be shipped off to “a far away place” called Vietnam. Neither of us knew much about this place except for what we heard on the news. The war (what war?) was escalating and they needed some young men to help defeat the “Communist Scourge.” I eagerly and proudly went. My Mom hesitantly but quietly watched me board the plane.
I was not her only son…I was just the one going off to war. She was still young.
The year past quickly. I wrote to her as often as possible, hoping she would not worry about me. I wrote to her about the humorous things…the lighthearted stories of the young men and women I was proud to serve with. Oh, what stories I could tell. I will not get into the “real stories” for they are not pleasant to write nor think about.
When I got my orders to return to “The World,” my first thoughts were of my Mom. I was eager to see her so she would know that her Marine Son was OK. I met a fine gentlemen on the plane who drove me to the factory where my parents worked. I arrived just before quitting time and found my Dad as he was punching out to go home. That was the only time I remember him hugging me. He introduced me to all of his coworkers as his Marine Son. He must have been a proud Marine Dad.
We walked out to the car where my Mom was waiting…unaware that I was there. I opened the passenger door and said “Move over lady.” She instantly had me in a bear hug repeating, “My son, my son,” and crying “The Cry of Relief” of a Marine Mother. That’s when I noticed something was different.
She had aged. In the year I had been away, she had gained “worry wrinkles” and gray hair. She was no longer young. She had watched every newscast and read every paper hoping (on one hand) to see her son’s face and fearing (on the other) that she might.
The wondering, the worrying, the sleepless nights, and the war had taken her youth. She was now old, but still a proud Marine Mom…A Marine Mom with amazing inner strength.
Cpl. Francis R. Lazeski, U.S.M.C 1964 – 1968