I had a really great chat with my mom the other night.
We’re separated by a few continents so we make up for lacking physical closeness by burning up the telephone lines. I have a primo long distance plan so we chat at least once a week. Sometimes there’s not a whole lot to share. And other times we gossip our toochases off – no small feat considering our kin-folk’s proneness to generous backsides.
My mom got emotional when recalling the morning of the Twin Tower hits. She told me where she was when she got the news and described the impact of seeing the initial footage on television.
I shared what my reaction had been that morning and how I immediately phoned my brother with whom I consult on matters of grand scale international developments. He and I discussed the implications of the attack and who might be behind the carnage.
Then mom & I ventured backwards to Gulf War #1. We reminisced how at the time my parents were hand-picked to appear in a live interview on Cincinnati’s NBC affiliate immediately after the first Scud Missiles were fired into Israel.
It was my turn to get emotional. Because that night 17 years ago both my above-mentioned brother and I were living in Tel Aviv and my sister was living in Haifa. Missiles hit both cities simultaneously and initial network reports cited possible chemical or biological attacks in both locales.
My unfortunate parents, along with many other U.S. dwelling parents of children in Israel, were unable to get through the jammed phone lines to determine the fates or whereabouts of offspring in targeted cities.
In a state of fear and shock, however, my folks had agreed to be carted off to the local television station for an appearance as “Parents of three children living in Scudded cities who have yet to learn the fate of their kids…”
After the Gulf War ended, someone at the network sent me the tape. And I’m pretty sorry I viewed it. Because my father, always with a joke up his sleeve and a story to tell, sat ashen faced and terrified. He spoke softly and had difficulty concentrating. My mother sat listless and silent at his side in the harshly lit studio. She was clearly in a state of shock. During the war, wrapped up in work and my own fear, I hadn’t realized the impact to my parents.
“All I could think,” my mother shared via phone this week “was that I couldn’t lose three of my four children all at once. I couldn’t. And then later,” she confided, “when NBC sent flowers to the house to show gratitude for the fact that you were working for them despite the Scuds, I got really angry. Like flowers would make everything okay. It took me weeks to finally get past it and send them a thank-you note.”
Chuckle chuckle. She sent a thank-you note. But then, ma has always been fastidious when it comes to decorum.
Oh yeah. Now I remember. We got onto the subject by way of discussing Gaza. And the loss of children to war.