My father spent a few years in the Army before he met my mother. He has a love of all-things-Army. Many years ago, while stationed in Texas, my husband and I had some single soldiers over to our home for Thanksgiving dinner. My father happened to be in town on this particular Thanksgiving, so he got to meet and hang out with the guys. The soldiers enjoyed listening to my dad's stories about the good ol' days and how, while in Germany during field exercises, anyone who captured Elvis would get a three-day pass (bet Elvis enjoyed being such a prized target).
Pat, one of the soldiers who was at the house, worked very closely with my husband and was widely respected, both personally and professionally. We became very close friends and my husband and I have stayed in touch with him throughout the years. In a roundabout way, that is.
After our tour in Texas ended, we parted ways with Pat and haven't had the fortune of being stationed near him in all these years. In fact, we haven't seen him since.
Pat is a wonderful man. A true mentor and role model for young soldiers. He used to give special, eclectic gifts to people. Once, he gave my parents each a pair of those MC Hammer pants. Yep, MC was all the rage back then....
They went into the bedroom, put them on and I must say, it was quite a sight to see them sporting a new wardrobe. Actually, it was rather disturbing. I was terrified my dad was going to say, "Hey Andi, put on some Vanilla Ice and let's raise the roof."
As for that mental image, trust me - You Can't Touch This....
My parents love Germany and travel there as often as they can. One such trip occurred when Pat was stationed in Germany. When he found out they would be in the neighborhood, he insisted on hosting them for a night. A funny thing happened. Pat went to work early one morning and my parent's woke up to find they they were locked in his apartment. Not sure of the specifics, but they could not get out for their day of planned sightseeing. Resigned to staying inside until Pat returned, they got hungry and scoured the empty cupboards of a single soldier. They feasted on sardines and saltines for breakfast and lunch. When an embarrassed Pat returned, they all had a good laugh about the botched day.
While we were home over Christmas, Mr. Andi asked for an update on Pat. I listened to my dad tell him about the last time they had contact. Pat pops up on email at the most unexpected times. It's not a constant daily or weekly or monthly communication, but he always keeps in touch. Mr. Andi told my dad, "well, tell him we said hello."
I smiled, amused at the fact that Pat was our friend and a fellow soldier, yet my family has seen him since we have and they know more about his movements and job assignments than we do. Occasionally, my husband and I will get an email from Pat. He'll pop up to let us know he's still alive, but he stays in closer contact with my dad.
This military life is a funny life, no?