Alaska e-Post online
Dear Mrs. Eckhart,
I am 9 years old. I have two sisters and a baby brother. My Dad is a Soldier with the Army National Guard who is deployed to Iraq and will be home in the next few weeks. My Dad will get a parade for coming home; could you please write my mom Mrs. William Pulcastro a thank you note?
Wappingers Falls, New York
Sometimes I open my e-mail and I am overcome by it.
While I’d be delighted to write a thank-you note to any military family, I read this and wondered how a note from a stranger could possibly equal the feeling that a 9-year-old puts into a letter like this?
Nine years old is the third grade. Nine years old keeps track of who has pierced ears in your class and who doesn’t.
Nine years old accepts the all-encompassing power of Mommy as if it were oxygen and clean water and money pouring forth from the ATM.
And here is this lovely 9-year-old who bears witness to a mother who has risen to the occasion.
Because when I wrote to Kathryn to find out more about her mom, she told me that’s what her mom was all about.
“My mom’s favorite saying is ‘Rise to every occasion, and overcome the challenge.’”
The things Mrs. Pulcastro has done might not seem like a big deal to you. Her daughter says that her mom had never mowed a lawn in her life and had to learn how to do it.
She learned how to tile the kitchen floor from the man at the store.
“Our mom doesn’t do ‘distance driving,’ it was something Dad always had done because it made Mom nervous,” Kathryn wrote.
The woman now drives more than an hour to her family readiness group meetings and has even volunteered to help other families in the unit.
I think that’s pretty good stuff — the kind of action so many military spouses do simply because they must.
But Kathryn’s mom is something more. She has an image to uphold, a trust with her children about the kind of mom she would be.
Kathryn tells a story about how one night the three sisters were supposed to have a sleepover with one friend each, but the water pipes froze and no plumber could be found.
Most moms would cancel the sleepover and offer a secret thanks for freezing weather – whether dad was deployed or not.
At first Mrs. Pulcastro dreamed up the idea that the girls could have a Polar Bear party and could go sledding with friends and have hot cocoa, but no sleepover.
Then she thought of trying to get the house hot enough to thaw the pipes. Evidently, the house was really, really, hot.
“She came to us and said, ‘OK, scratch the polar bear party. What about a tropical party and a sleepover?’ “ Kathryn said. “We had lots of fun with leftover decorations from a summer party.”
A mom wins a lot of loyalty from a kid with that kind of behavior. A wife wins a lot of praise.
A fellow citizen who does not buckle under during times of crisis deserves a lot of gratitude from the rest of us.
So thank you, Mrs. Pulcastro.
Thank you for being the kind of military spouse who does so much more than just survive a deployment.
You thrive. That’s impressive.
But most of all, thank you for being the kind of mother who puts a child like Kathryn into the world. By your behavior, you and your husband have shaped your children’s expectations of how adults are supposed to act during times of crisis.
You probably thought you were invisible to the world during this deployment, one of thousands.
Yet you were visible to the most important people in the world, the people who will go forth and keep the rest of us company. You’ve set them a pattern that they will not be able to ignore. Rise to every occasion and overcome the challenge.
(Editor’s note: A 19-year military spouse, Jacey Eckhart is a nationally syndicated columnist with CinCHouse.com.)