A friend shared her firstborn son's four-month baby photo story at Facebook this morning and improved Monday measurably! Thanksomuch, Jessica ! Mother and child are a gift to life itself! It reminded me of our own son's baby days! May this post help do my part for veterans and all loving parents.
The story: My new husband and Corps of Engineers Lieutenant liked my Red Cross work as he prepared for deployment with work as Assistant Brigade Adjutant at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Partners in it all, and now parenthood too! Our new marriage was getting really good! So he obtained an extension on his departure date so he could be there for the birth and the early christening, and then off to war, when our son was 22 days old. But we had run along with our cameras as sweethearts and newlywed, and promised to let photos continue to help us stay close.
I'd plan the photo shoot and get busy - back and forth as photographer and with a drafted helper, then, into the photo myself for my mommy role. Then the editing: I’d assemble the stories with captions and send them on to his Daddy in Viet Nam.
With his degree in Chemistry and hatred for Chemical warfare, he was proud to be with His USACE Special Ops group, "Black Diamonds", bridge-building and getting rid of Agent Orange. To be sure to get that job, my late husband took on Construction work as a summer job and was required to enlist before his draft notice arrived. They would be sent at birthdays, and his was in July, so not much graduate partying in June, but running to Army Recruiting to get in on time.
I don't know what sort of mass hypnosis we use to make it bearable, but war is "like, dangerous" and they were not showing enough John Wayne movies! His job was not especially combat of any sort, but they all took their turn at duties with guns. I was twenty-one and in love; I pretended it was just “post partum” stuff when I swooned from horror at the dangers he faced...he and friends and neighbors' sons and soon, my Brother. The wonderful new Playtex baby nurser with super safe disposable bags was fun. But an innovation called "body bags" was not. I never stopped getting sick at the idea of bagging people. They needed a much more respectful term for it, and insistence use of that term. Both soldiers and newscasters were awful in their deliberate disrespect when they used the term.
Unable to cry, desperate to do something to help, all I could do, was find the good perfumed stationery and send the photo stories and pray a lot, and " not make waves" . There was no SKYPE and no digital imaging, but now the photo stories for my lieutenant got serious in their mission. Keeping up morale when those who were supposed to do and say supportive things were NOT. And what if my pathetic efforts got lost in the famously-horrible mail? The popcorn and cookies I sent NEVER got there. Once his letters did not get to me for weeks and once mine did not reach him and the letters back were full of his concern as were mine to him, by the time they arrived, it was frustration to read them, since the issue had passed.
Young and low-budget or not, there was money for at least two copies of the photo essays. Head and heart in the production to keep it light and helpful for all the best fun. The christening and the bath time stories remain my favorite - wiggly before, splashing during, full of delight. And after? One he'd love with happy, sleepy, clean and dry baby and happily wet and messy Mommy. His Father's letters in reply were full of love and praise for the joy the stories brought in the middle of a war. The highchair mealtimes, the fun in the stroller and other photo stories - easy! How good to know that they helped!
And, thanks to the extension on the deployment, Daddy was home in time for his son's first haircut and baby's first Christmas - Father and Son together "all ten fingers - all ten toes" - my favorite baby picture story of all!