She nudged her friend and smiled as she nodded toward her father. In itself, the backyard event was a mundane affair, the usual Father’s Day, with late June heat. As Joy hinted to her friend to watch her father with the meat wrapper, she whispered, “watch this”. Meanwhile, Joy’s mother went back inside and ignored the activity. She had organized the neighborhood BBQ almost every year, but since Jack came home, she wanted no part of it. His actions seemed unnecessary, and she felt embarrassed for him. Someone else could have run the grill.
Joy’s dad was an older father than most of the others in the neighborhood. He was an Army veteran and lost his right arm in a bombing incident. He received medals and should have been considered a hero. The dismemberment of his arm was replaced with a substantial hook. He was quite deftly unwrapping the hamburger patties with a backwards roll of his hook on the paper. It had taken a lot of training to be adept at everyday chores, but he was used to it now. His daughter was very proud of him and never missed a chance to brag about his skills.
Jack’s wife on the other hand was opposed to the idea. In some ways she seemed so disappointed in his survival, one might think she would rather have had a tricornered flag. She was tentative when she saw him in his initial wounded state. Her grief over the loss of his arm seemed paramount to the fact he was home and safe now. Perhaps the worrying many years he was overseas had taken control. It was almost as if she didn’t have spine enough to accept him as he was, alive, and slightly changed. She certainly never got used to him showing his dexterity with the arm’s partial replacement. She was embarrassed for some reason, known only to her.
Jack took a while to adapt to being home again. Often he would talk to his daughter and vent his feelings. She was much more receptive than his wife. He didn’t suffer from PTSD as so many of his military friends experienced. His wife’s disappointment was clear but the relationship would last until their daughter finished high school. Jack realized the situation was far from perfect, but he intended to be an example to his daughter.