Our Mother/Daughter Weekend, Gone Ugly Cry
Do You Know This (or That) Mom?

Tell Them About My Name

New-jersey-vietnam-war-memorial-glen-bates-2
My kids love hearing the stories behind their namesakes and each still pretty much like their given names, except for our youngest:  while playing a name game at a friend's baby shower, Hope insisted she wanted to be called Robin.

"How come my name doesn't start with a H, like the girls?"

For two reasons:  naming your children with the same letter sounds harmless enough, until you try hollering for one of them, and can't seem to remember their names, without sounding like an idiot...each and every blessed time...because, I'm smart like that.

There is also a pretty neat and totally goosebump-worthy story behind the reason why we chose to name our son, Glen.

One of my husband Garth's (not his real name) earliest childhood memories was from the summer when he was about 4 years-old:  he fell into a rose bush, ten times his size (as he remembers it) when a really big boy from the neighborhood ran over and, without hesitation reached in through the thorns, lifted him out, brushed him off and then walked him home.

The really big boy was a 19-year old, his name was Glen Bates -- a few months later, he was killed in Vietnam.

But wait, my story is about to get a whole lot goosebump-ier.

RV-show-at-pnc-bank-art-center
this was the entrance fee into the RV show and how awesome would it be if some of the beaches did this, right?!?

Flashing-forward 4 decades:  as a part of my husband's birthday weekend, Garth (not his real name) insisted on attending an RV show and, well, even though we don't have any plans on buying an RV...anytime soon...like, in never, EVER!...I figured, why not, must be a mid-life thing and it's worth at least one good chick-flick, right?!?

None of our girls seemed very excited about going (me, either) but, my son thought...meh, why not...AND...there might even be a food truck!!!

Long story, short (I know, too late, but well, you've come this far and the rest of it is pretty awesome, promise!) leaving the RV show, I remembered that this particular venue also happened to share a parking lot with the New Jersey Veteran's Vietnam Memorial.

"We should go and see if we can find Glen Bates."

I am embarrassed to admit that, although we drive past the exit thousands of times and have even been to the National Vietnam Memorial in D.C., my son mentions the fact that we have never been to the one here in Jersey...each and every one of those thousands of times...we've driven past the exit.

New-jersey-vietnam-war-memorial-museum

We were pleasantly surprised to find that there was also a museum, so while I was checking out the rest rooms (stupid pre-menopausal bladder) my husband and son chatted with the volunteer at the counter.

"Hey mom, guess what?  She actually knew Glen Bates!"

[cue goosebumps]

"Yes, I went to school with Glen."

Yep, the woman volunteering grew up in my husband's hometown and she seemed just as verklempt as we were -- especially, after hearing the story about how the boy who pulled my husband out of a rose bush is now our son's namesake -- and, well, even if you don't happen to believe in serendipity, what if I told you that she also attended Glen's funeral?!?

"He was SUCH a lovely boy."

We just stood there, staring at each other, trying to keep the goosebumps from mutliplying, neither of us knowing what to say next.

"You know, I don't usually work Saturdays..."

It was then when my husband turned to me in total disbelief.

"It's like he wanted us to come and find him."

New-jersey-vietnam-war-memorial-glen-bates
there are 366 panels, one for each day of the year (january 1 through december 31) including leap year

The volunteer tried to give us directions to the correct panel, but it was pretty obvious she was still a bit shaken by our collective connection to Glen Bates.

"It's okay, we'll find him."

I was taking pictures, admiring the absolutely beautiful spring day, and sort of lost sight of my husband and son.

New-jersey-vietnam-war-memorial-remembering-glen-bates
they happened to choose the set of stairs that led to Glen's name

It really did seem as if he wanted us to find him and, seeing as our oldest daughter is now 19, it broke our hearts to imagine what kind of a person (or father, for that matter) Glen Bates could have/would have been.

New-jersey-vietnam-war-memorial-war-dogs
my son spotted the rose on this sculpture, totally goosebump-worthy

Still, even after ALL these years, the image of Glen Bates as a kind and caring young man continues to live on and, well, I just can't help but feel that something special has indeed passed between him and my son.

Not just in a name, but in spirit -- thank you, Glen Bates.

(P.S. Responding to Melisa's comment below: I totally forgot to mention about "our" Glen's insisting that he was going to join the military...since he was about 4 years-old...be still, my heart!)

© 2003 - 2013 This Full House

New and improved with a fan page on Facebook and everything!

© This Full House 2003-2019. All rights reserved.
comments powered by Disqus