We eat together as a family on Sunday nights. I mean, we eat together most nights, but on Sunday nights, it’s real food. (PB&J or chips and salsa, while also real food, do not merit an acknowledgment.) I’m talking meat, veggies, etc. From scratch. Maybe even a recipe. Sometimes with a homemade dessert or we’ll go out for ice cream. FANCY. Sometimes, my children like to regale us with funny little stories, sing cutsey little songs, ask a million questions, or like last night, use the profanity** that they learned that day. Like I said, FANCY.
Last night my dinner included grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, and glazed carrots. And I’m standing in the kitchen, my kids at my feet being silly, and I’m peeling a couple of pounds of potatoes, cursing my vegetable peeler. I have a new one, and I hate it. I’m terrible at peeling potatoes.
I sort of laughed to myself, and remembered a story that my Pappy would tell me about being in the Navy. He didn’t talk about it much, but when he did, he would talk about the food. And he would tell us about how he learned to peel potatoes and how they were ONLY supposed to peel the skin. You weren’t allowed to waste any of the flesh, only the skin. And you used a knife. Now that I’m thinking about it, I actually don’t know if I ever saw him peel a potato…
I wish I had a picture of him to share, the one where he looked so handsome and cool in that uniform and coat. He let me wear his Navy pea coat when I was a teenager. And isn’t that bizarre? When he was 18, he was on a ship on his way to the South Pacific. When I was 18, I was driving around, going to football games, submitting my college applications, wearing his coat, trying to be cool. My grandmother still has his coat, with his name and number and rank sewn on the inside.
And aren’t we lucky that so many American men and women serve our country? And do so selflessly, leaving their families, working more hours than we do, in far worse conditions, for not-so-generous salaries… Integrity and honor, and all of the patriotism we sing about, in human form.
** to be discussed on a day when I’m not humiliated by her actions or sweating a call from daycare regarding her teaching other people’s children how to curse like a sailor. even though I’m getting the sailor connection.