A debt of gratitude to all Veteran’s, and their families. Salute.
Yet another staggering, bleary-eyed, diaper change. The alarm level cry petered, grounded out to mere sputters, the point where his tiny lungs were nearly depleted of oxygen. His newborn son silent from a much too long inhale, now loosed a high-pitched wail, like an arrow aimed tightly at his brain. Amidst the blistering cries pelting his face he frantically triaged over the changing table, a baby shower gift, strangely aware that it was lit by a blue starfish nightlight. Searching for the source of a fresh round of shrieks while flailing at the wall with his free hand, he managed to slap the overhead light paddle switch, blasting away the darkness. The combination of light, and the adrenaline shock now rounded, he was able to visually assess the situation. Holding kicking limbs, while unsnapping the infant’s onesie, the contradictory cause of commotion was found, a safety pin.
Cloth diapers are properly secured with two safety pins. Waterproof diaper covers are added as an extra insurance policy against the inevitable. In this case, each had an oversized plastic endcap, a smiling bumblebee, to safely enclose the shrapnel sharp point. One of the smiling bumbles, perhaps aware of the irony, had sprung open, and was spearing three layers of cottony softness, and a tenderer layer of newborn skin. With one quick motion, the safety pin was out, and the baby up off the table. The infant’s cries, mixing with gentle shushes, quieted to soft racking hiccups, and eventual coos. The new father switched off the overhead, awakening the starfish once again to provide dim light, and witness to whispered promises, as the duo gently bounce stepped the room.
Several years short of a quarter century, most of the parental unknowns were now knowns. The safety pin from that night, long since named Stinger, was considered a badge of honor. Stinger, over the years, was presented, and present, amongst shiners, stitches, fractures, and most of life’s childhood milestones. The prior year, Stinger had been ceremoniously added to a metal emblem stamped Proud MARINE Dad; this new fob now kept, as if assigned overwatch duty, on a round wooden peg in the foyer of the tidy home.
At the time of the resolute knock, the home’s solid wood front door had withstood at least 52,560 openings and closings with varying degrees of rowdiness, and a near equal number of “I’m home” entrances, or “I love you” exits. A string of blue starfish lights looped about an Adirondack chair, dimly illuminated two ramrod straight figures standing on the porch, in military dress. The now older father’s hand grazed Stinger’s keychain, simultaneously opening the door while switching on the overhead light to blast away the darkness. His first cry ground out to mere sputters, the point where his lungs were nearly depleted of oxygen, and for a moment, he could still hear their life crushing words. The next wail, like an arrow aimed tightly at his brain, eliminated everything, including his promises.