Today is February 20th. Just another cold mid-winter day here in the Northland. For many years, I have spent this day, and many days on either side of it, away from home. My usual wanderings had me spending this time of the year in New Mexico or other destinations in the American Southwest.
It’s not uncommon for Midwesterners to travel to the Southwest, Southern Texas, Florida and other warm temperature climates to find some sunshine and heat. Many folks call themselves “Snowbirds”. The locals in places like Tucson and Phoenix definitely call people that travel to these places only during the winter, Snowbirds.
It’s been a great excuse. No one questions the decision to get away from Wisconsin, Minnesota and other Northern climates to land in warmer places anything else but lucky and fortunate because they could afford to do so monetarily, or have the time off from work to get away from the cold chill of Winter.
I say excuse because I have always had another reason for making these treks this time of year. You see, I celebrate, and I use that word carelessly here, the anniversary date of the day I was sent to, and subsequently sent home from, Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 respectively.
Sure, it was a long time ago, but the mind has a way of kicking the seat of my pants to remind me what happened on this date so many years ago.
Sometimes it is a conscious fact and I recall vividly the details of my arrival, and departure, in the war zone. Sometimes I just feel like crap and wonder what the hell is going on? Why is my head so discombobulated? Then I see a calendar and remember this date.
February 20th isn’t the only date that does this to me. Seems like there are many anniversary dates of tragic happenings that plague me for one reason or another. Unfortunately for my middle daughter, February 20th is also her birthday, and I can count on one hand how many times I have been at home to celebrate a good and wonderful day. A real Happy Birthday celebration when a child was born, my own daughter, my own flesh and blood.
But home I am. And aware I am as well. Aware that this is an important date in the history of the lives of all my family. I will do all I can this day to celebrate my daughter’s life by cooking her favorite foods, singing Happy Birthday and eating cake and ice cream.
I pray that I can stay focused enough on the happiness of the present to forget about the past and wake up tomorrow in a different frame of mind. I am so blessed to have a family that surrounds me with love and I ask The Creator to help me see that love every minute of every day that I am alive.