What will you do with the gift?

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As headlines announce the withdrawal of troops in Iraq and as politicians tout victories won, let’s not forget that all across America there are families who are missing a loved one this Christmas.

 

Excerpt from AFTER THE FLAG HAS BEEN FOLDED:

The night before Daddy shipped out to Vietnam, I had been to a Christmas party at church. Our Sunday school teachers gave Frankie and me each a sack filled with peppermints, peanuts, an apple, an orange, malted milk balls, and, at the very bottom of the brown bag, two chocolate footballs wrapped in gold foil.

Running into the house, I found my father lying on the couch with his head in Mama’s lap. “Looky what I got!” I squealed, shoving the bag under his nose.

Taking the sack from me, Daddy began to pluck through the treasures. He took out the apple and placed it on his chest. Then, digging deeper, he found one of the foil-wrapped footballs. “Mmmm, this is the one I want,” he said, pinching the tiny football between his thumb and forefinger.

I studied the candy’s shiny foil and then looked into Daddy’s sky blue eyes. “Oh, no, sir!” I cried. “You can’t have that. That’s my favorite!”

Then, pulling the bag from him, I fished for a malted milk ball and offered that to him. “But you can have this one, sir.”

Shaking his head sideways, Daddy again clutched the bag and held up the shiny football.

“Nope. This is my favorite. This is the one I want.”

Frankie cozied up beside me. “You can have mine, sir,” he said, elbowing me aside.

Then, looking into my face, Daddy reached up and stroked the side of my head and said, “No, it’s okay. I was only teasing. I didn’t really want any candy. I would like the apple, though.”

Reaching into his pants pocket and whisking out his pocket-knife, Daddy began whittling away the apple’s skin. He always peeled his apples before eating them. He was pretty good at taking off all the skin in one long, red curl.

Placing the chocolate football in my open palm, Daddy grinned. I tore off the candy’s foil and popped it into my mouth. Mama smiled at the two of us.

If my father had come home from Vietnam alive, I probably never would have remembered any of this, but as a child I believed the reason Daddy died was because God was teaching me a lesson.

 

About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • Jcrabe56

    I only wish I had taken the time to get to know you better when your Daddy died, I am sure he would be so proud of who you have become and the good things you do for our world. I am so proud to call you my friend!!!

  • Greg

    And many of those returning bear both the physical and psychological scars that they and their families will be dealing with the rest of their lives.

  • http://twitter.com/AnnVoskamp Ann Voskamp

    This: “If my father had come home from Vietnam alive, I probably never would have remembered any of this, but as a child I believed the reason Daddy died was because God was teaching me a lesson.”

    Oh. Friend.
    I spent my childhood with so many whys too… trying to figure out the reason for deaths.

    Thank you for answering the call on your life.

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    categories Uncategorized | tags Arlington, Christmas, fallen, gifts, Gold Star, Iraq, military families, soldiers, veterans, Vietnam, war, Wreaths

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    Greg
    And many of those returning bear both the physical and psychological scars that they and their families will be dealing with the rest of their lives.
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    1 day ago
    Jcrabe56
    I only wish I had taken the time to get to know you better when your Daddy died, I am sure he would be so proud of who you have become and the good things you do for our world. I am so proud to call you my friend!!!
    Like
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    1 day ago

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    karenzach Got a phone call today from the last of the troops out of Iraq. Captain Moses called from Germany: n.pr/rslEHl #Thankful #NPR #CNN about 1 hour ago · reply · retweet · favorite
    karenzach profile

    karenzach Captain Moses just called from Germany. He is safely home with his family. Many blessings. 5 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite
    karenzach profile

    karenzach SILaw needs a place to bunk in Wenatchee winter doing his clinicals at hospital. If u know of a house to sit or room to rent, give a shout. 9 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite
    karenzach profile

    karenzach First coffee meeting of the day canceled. That gives me more time to do less. 9 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite
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    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Thank you, Ann. I understood that we shared that same line of questioning as children, the same how did I fail. I loved your book because of the way you wrangled through that. Appreciate you and your writings.


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