Today was a fall day. The sky was bright blue, but the air was crisp and there was just a general feeling of needing to be wrapped up in something comfy and staying on the couch all day long.
But, that was not the plan for today. Instead, hubby and I drove an hour and half to Columbia to visit the VA hospital for an appointment of his.
The morning started out wonderfully, we loved our drive down and spent the time munching on some fruit and sipping our coffee and tea and chatting about upcoming events.
And then… we arrived at the VA. We were an hour early and were thrilled, hoping we could get in sooner and leave sooner. We drove into the facility and immediately stopped, vehicles everywhere. We entered the first parking lot and immediately I was transported back in time. The years were 1982- 1985…. The time was the same, fall, bright blue skies and a nip in the air. The kind of cool that cuts through your sweater and settles into your bones. It only comes in sharp gusts and takes you by surprise each time it happens. During that time frame I was a mother of two young children. We were living in San Diego and I was in a parking lot like the one I was in today. I circled the parking lot several times, praying each time I entered into a new row, ‘please let there be an open space!’. None were ever available, and I would finally go into a pay parking area and fork out the $2.00 that was needed for my vehicle. The parking lot would be a quarter to a half mile from my destination… the pediatric care clinic of the Naval Hospital. Pushing my car into park, I would then unload my girls and proceed to carry them, sometimes both of them at a time to the clinic. I was usually exhausted by time I reached the clinic and it always made the bright days seem cloudy.
I haven’t thought of those times in years. I haven’t had to, they were neatly tucked away in my stored memory file. But, somehow, today, circling those parking lots, it all came flooding back to me. And, in that moment I was feeling the same weight I felt all those years ago.
Again, hubby and I did not find a parking place. A half hour after arriving, we finally found the overflow lot and proceeded to circle that lot, an unpaved, pot-hole strewn lot where a semi could get lost in a pot hole. Not one place was available. Finally, we backed into a grassy area and parked our car. We walked the quarter mile to the building we needed to be in while I tried my best not to find a place for my soap box which, unfortunately is always with me.
Why a soapbox? I find it reprehensible that our veterans have to spend a half hour trying to find a place to park in order to been seen by their physicians. These people who have pledged their allegiance to our country. These people who have given their youth, their energy, their best cannot easily use the facilities that are there for them.
So, as we walked to the clinic, I mentioned that I knew there was a blog post in all of this. I will now put away my soap box and sit and try to shove those memories back into storage. Those memories make a part of me want to sit and cry. Although so many of my memories of our time in the Navy are wonderful, there are some that just make me ache. The feelings that were resurrected today are some of the worst. Feeling helpless with sick children and knowing that the only way for them to be seen was to jump through the hoops that were present during that time. After being seen we then had to go to pick up prescriptions, which, at that time meant sitting on a group of metal bleachers outside in the elements with your sick children while your prescription was filled. That always added an hour to the ordeal.
Yes, I know things have greatly improved for military families, but, just one question remains for me… why can’t they pave a stupid parking lot for our veterans?
Thanks for reading my rant… Cathi (DAF)