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.

7 Responses to Rubberbands….

  1. A Soldier's Mother July 9, 2009 at 2:37 pm #

    That's such a beautiful memory…and memorial. Something so simple and so unique and so…human. I'm glad you wear one in his memory and that so many others do as well.

    How do you repay this act of kindness done for Micheal each week? The answer is you don't because he feels he is attempting to acknowledge and repay Micheal for a sacrifice that can never be repaid – no matter how many times he puts a rubberband there. His knowing that it means so much to you is a gift you give to him. He so much wants to do something meaningful. How special that he has found a way and that it helps rather than hurts. There is always the fear that others will cause more pain on top of what you have…so if this brings you comfort, you have more than repaid his efforts.

    Once again, as always, a beautiful post, a beautiful memory – of a very special young man. Thanks for sharing.

  2. David M July 10, 2009 at 8:49 am #

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/10/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  3. Becky July 10, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    That's an awesome memory and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing. I don't know if you can ever repay the Sgt that's doing that each Sunday. In life and death, good and bad, these guys always take care of each other, and they never, ever forget. This past year, my husband went back down to Fort Lee for some training. It was the first time he had been back there since 1998 – one of his battle buddies had attended school w/him back then and was later killed in Iraq. My husband knew going back to a place which was so loaded w/memories was going to be hard, but he said he took some time off and went to Busch Gardens and rode the same rollercoasters his buddy had loved and he did it to honor him – he said, "that's what *** would have wanted me to do". When he found old pictures from when they had done school together, he tracked down ***'s family so he could make sure they had them – your sons buddies (old and new) will never, ever forget him.

  4. joyce July 10, 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    wow. that brought tears to my eyes. Something so tangible.

  5. Dyanna July 10, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    My brother (Mac) had a rubberband on his wrist when he came home on his R&R and I asked him what it was for and he said "What this…'s for Pokey". Reading the story behind it is so special. What a wonderful thing to be able to cherish.

  6. jenniferw July 12, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    God bless you, Knottie, and thank you for your great sacrifice. I cannot imagine the pain you feel on a daily basis. I wish there were something I could do to help. I have prayed for you and your family today. Keep up the good work and know that your darling boy's life was not lost in vain. He is a great and true American hero. May he rest in peace.

  7. A Free Man Thinking Freely July 16, 2009 at 6:55 am #

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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