Because I am trying to keep all my Andy writings and readings in one place (here) I am going to post this note (term used generously...my father has never been the master of brevity) from my dad dated July 27, even tho it's out of the order of things.
I am sorry I missed an update yesterday. I know everyone is anxious for news. The computer room that I was using was locked when I got there. Walter Reed, we are discovering, becomes an entirely different place on weekends. They kind of "roll up the sidewalks" on the weekend. What is normally a very bustling place, looks more like a ghost town unless you are actually in a ward. There the business of healing goes on non-stop, 24-7. This is truly an amazing place. You really have to be here to comprehend the high level of professionalism, and yet everywhere there is compassion, consideration, and kindness. Even the housekeeping people, if they see you looking lost, which happens a lot in my case, stop what they are doing and either direct or take you to where you need to go.
Yesterday I went to another floor and another ward to check on one of Andy's friends. He was not in his room but a very pleasant young nurse met me as I came back through the door and offered to let them know that I came by. She seemed so very young. As I walked back down the long hall I realized that everyone here seems so very young: doctors, nurses, Army staff.
Finally I realized why I had been feeling so old. It is because I go for a grandfather among all these "kids." 40 years old is "old" in the Army. But, I also have begun to realize that I have underestimated the potential that young people have when they are directed and devoted to what they are doing. And I have now observed and remembered again the vast, I said the vast, amounts of energy that they bring to whatever they are doing. No wonder I feel like an antique. I am an antique when measured beside them on the energy meter.
As I write this, Andy is getting another CT Scan. Then they are going to roll him outside, literally, to a courtyard on the fifth floor for a while. He continues to cooperate with the healing process and, when he can get away with it, to direct it. He is still in and out a lot, but he is resting noticeably better. Thanks so much for your prayers for that.
He has some pancreatitus, but the doctors are right on top of it and they say that it should not impact his surgery on Tuesday. That is the next big milestone toward which we are moving. After that surgery and recovery process he will have much more freedom of moment without the temporary brace that he is now wearing.
His arms are becoming stronger by the day. Their movement is beginning to be more deliberate and look more normal.
We have discovered that Andy really played down, in his phone conversations with us over the last 15 months, the level of activity that he was engaged in. I remember what he said when I took him to the airport to return from his last leave, he said, "Don't worry about me Dad. I'm just going to work." I know that he wanted to spare us the worry, but I have now "read him the riot act" that he is never to do that again. It pains me now that I was not somehow engaged at the same emotional level that he was.
Andy is in 3rd platoon, c (Chosen) company, 2 Battalion of 503 Infantry (The 173rd Airborne Brigade ) We found out just today that Andy's unit "The Rock" has been awarded 6 Silver Stars, 48 Bronze Stars with valor, more than 140 Army Commendation Medals with valor, 98 Purple Hearts, more than 150 other awards have been submitted for approval, including 2 for Medals of Honor, 3 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 3 more for Silver Stars as of June 30th. Obviously not the stuff of business as usual.
Each member of our family seems to relate a little differently to what has happened to Andy. This new awareness of the level of his combat environment has stirred what I know to be, on some level, irrational questions in me. Really they are probably better described as instincts: "If I could just have been there." "Could better preparation have been made in their position?" "Did they choose the right defensive position?" "Were they careful in their planning?" "How could I have fixed this?" Those are really the same instincts that were practiced and expressed a thousand times when Andy was still at home and safe with us. But they were just all rolled in to one short sentence each time he went out the door: "Be careful, Andy."
I think our children never really understand the careful soul searching of the parents who watch for them. They don't know what it's like to be constantly watchful. They will, maybe, but they don't understand it as a child. They think life is a hoot. We see it as the great adversary. So, when they get in their cars to go off somewhere out of our sight we always say, with way more anxiety than they know, "Be careful." But within that simple admonition are all of the questions of "is everything all right?" "Is it safe?" "Have I covered all the bases?"
Somewhere along the way I became a "father" to all of my children. It didn't happen the day they were born to me. It happened later as I became aware of what I was supposed to do for them. Somewhere I came to know that I was supposed to protect them, to keep them safe, to provide what they needed, to be their first line of defense against the harshness of this world.
And somewhere along the way this fathering thing stopped being a thought process and started being an instinct.
It is always there.
It never sleeps.
And it comes to life and reacts instantly, and sometimes not very rationally, concerning the issues of my children.
So, that is going on now, in this place. It is certainly not unmanageable but I would appreciate your prayers as I sort through these issues in what represents a really tough situation for all of us who are used to being "their protection."
As I prayed this morning the Lord reminded me of the early verses of Psalm 40. There the psalmist said that he cried out to God and that God inclined his ear to him and heard him. He said that God lifted him from the pit and the miry clay and set his feet on a rock and put a new song in his mouth. We are today anticipating the time to sing again. Thank you all for waiting so faithfully with us. It is coming. God will make it so. Love in Christ, Larry, Donna, and Family
end Daddy's "note".