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Letter: Digging deep, I found a rock

By the end of the day my series of shovel-dug trenches – over two-foot-deep and some about that wide – will be all-told nearly 40 feet long, spider-webbing here and there as if I didn’t know what I was doing, which I don’t.

You’d think I was in the army.

My dad was.

But as he told me one time – as we heated Jell-O, our favorite drink in the backcountry, over an open campfire at the end of another day hiking and fishing our way through the Olympic wilderness – “I never would have made a career soldier.”

He had been drafted and did Basic in Georgia. 

During mail call one day, standing at attention in the pouring rain, his name was called.

Sergeant: “Pvt Anderson!”

Dad was to have double-timed to the front to receive his mail but evidently was not fast enough in the mud made sloppy from the rain to please the powers-that-be.

His mail was tossed to him.

Pvt Anderson missed it.

Pvt Anderson’s mail landed in the mud.

“Pick it up,” the Sergeant glared.

“Pick it up yourself,” Pvt Anderson glared back.  “You threw it there.”

A CO, watching the proceedings, quietly said, “Sergeant, pick up Pvt Anderson’s mail and hand it to him.”

Dad would pull extensive KP and in short order would put in for a transfer to Texas.

Eventually he would serve in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy but it was on the train that day in route to Texas that he would meet the southern gal who would be my mom.

Mom and dad of course are long since gone now but the just-so-happened love that began on the train that day, preceded by the just-so-happened incident in the mud that rainy morning in Georgia, is since then a legacy of three children, eight grandchildren, and 10 greatgrandchildren.

Dad had found what he was looking for.

So did I, a symbol of which I brought home from the trenches I’m digging deep and wide made muddy from this incessant rain.

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