Everyone has a habit that is a little different or strange. That little thing that they do that make people wonder why they do it. Pokey always wore a rubberband on his wrist. Not sure why or how it started. It was just something he had done since early high school. About the same time he became “Pokey”. He would say it was lucky and a handy weapon. He could be in a tux and have a rubberband on his wrist. The first box i sent him in Iraq I asked his brothers and sister if they wanted to add anything. Pokey’s youngest brother handed me a rubberband. “He needs his rubberband”. So I wrote on it.. ” from Tojo for luck” (Tojo is the nickname Pokey called his youngest brother) I look at videos and pictures of Pokey in Iraq and sure enough he has that rubberband on his wrist. In January he asked me to have Tojo send him another one cause the one he had was wearing out. So I bought a bag of rubberbands and decided to send him a bunch.. all with messages written on them from his friends and family. I remember the day he got them. Said they made him smile but he would only wear the one from Tojo.
When we heard the news one of the first things we did was put a rubberband on our wrists. All of us. Everyone that knew and loved him. No one had to explain it. When his friends came to see us they were wearing them. It was too soon to have the memorial bracelets to wear so instead we wore the rubberbands and checkerboard vans. Another of Pokeys “things” If he wasn’t wearing combat boots he was wearing checkerboard vans. I bought a pair for every member of the family to wear to the funeral. Anyway back to the rubberbands… We made sure a rubberband was placed on his wrist before he went to his final resting place. We also asked friends over the internet to wear one the day of his funeral in memory.. I got a lot of pictures of rubberbands on wrist. It was very comforting.
A few weeks after the funeral his things arrived from Iraq. In them was a baggie full of the rubberbands I had sent in January. Among them was the first one Tojo had sent.. stretched and dirty. He had kept it. and now I have it with his things.
To this day everyone in the family still wears a rubberband on our wrist along with the black memorial bracelets that bare his name. Every once in awhile someone will ask about it.
When they unveiled the Memorial at Ft. Campbell each family had the opportunity to place something at it in memory… you got it, I placed a rubberband. My escort, Sgt R, smiled and said ” He always wore a rubberband. I never knew what that was about.” And I told him about his habit and Tojo sending one for luck. I found out recently that every Sunday no matter what Sgt R makes sure there is a rubberband placed on that memorial at Ft. Campbell for me. One of his brothers told on him. What he doesn’t know is how much that small act means to me. He knows I can’t go and do it so he does it for me. And he remembers and honors Micheal with that small act once a week. How does a mother repay this act? It seems so small but it is so large. And because only those who truly knew my son would understand it, it means all the more that this young man thought enough of my son to go to this trouble… to place a rubberband for him once a week.
Funny how something so simple and common can hold so much meaning.