Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Dad

“Below is an essay my 16 year old wrote for school...”

CPT Joseph Pulvino - 1982nd FST FOB Shank Afghanistan

Some kids have parents that are police officers or firefighters. These are admirable jobs, but they don’t take their mother or father away for a year like my parents. Since the age of eight I have been dealing with one of my parents deploying overseas to support the war efforts in the Middle East. This past year was different than any other deployment. This is because I am older and more is expected of me. I was nervous when I learned my dad was leaving again, but he spent this past year preparing me for the many challenges ahead.

In November 2009 my dad received orders to go to Afghanistan in November 2010. At that point my family’s life changed. Everyone in the house was preparing for life without my father. My dad was preparing me to handle many of the tasks he normally does in our home. He was teaching me everything. He taught me how to cook, drive, manage the apartments, and make repairs around the house and our properties.

My dad felt it was very important to maintain our family traditions while he was gone. This included vacations and family meals. He showed me where all of the camping equipment was located. He taught me how to correctly pack and load vehicles this past year so I could help my mother during our trip to Alleghany State Park this upcoming summer.

My dad loved cooking so he wanted to make sure I could cook before he left. He is an Italian man and his favorite food is pasta. He enjoyed making his own homemade sauce. Before he left that was one of the many things he taught me how to prepare. My dad made sure I knew how to make our families favorite dinner. It was sliced chicken marinated in Stubbs’s Barb Q sauce. That’s our favorite meal. Dinner is a time when we have some our best family memories. My dad made sure that I would keep that going.

Learning how to manage our apartments we own was difficult. I needed to learn how much rent to collect and which tenant had to pay what amount. I learned how to keep track and write receipts for the renters. I make sure the tenants communicate and aren’t doing anything inappropriate in our houses. I always have to make sure the sidewalk is shoveled and the lawns are mowed so we don’t get a fine from the city.

My dad is very good with construction work. Prior to leaving he taught me as much as he could. I would assist him with every job that needed to be done in the apartments or in our house. I learned plumbing, carpeting, flooring, windows, and painting. The main job I learned was plumbing.In the apartments something always went wrong with plumbing. My dad also brought my uncle when we fixed things. My uncle and I are the managers of the apartments. When one of us is not available the other one will address any problems.

My father taught me how to drive. He wasn’t the best teacher even though he thinks he was. My dad said the only way to learn is to do it hands on. That’s how he taught me. My first time driving was in his truck on the highway. It was scary but I learned quickly even though we argued most of the time when driving together. By the time I finally received my license we stopped arguing and I was a descent driver. The day he left to Afghanistan is the day I successfully passed my road test.

My dad also made sure I was employed before he left. His best friend is Renato Sr.Passucci. They have been close friends since the 6th grade. Renato owns a construction company called E & R Construction. My father helped me get a job there and I work with my friend Nick Passucci. This job definitely teaches me the concept of hard work. I am trying to save money to buy my own car. It is also teaching me what my dad couldn’t before he left. I am also learning how to repair cars and welding. My good friend Nick is a great teacher, hard working, and very patient. I hope I can do as much as he can one day.

During our family vacations and hunting trips this past year my dad continued to teach and guide me. While camping he showed me where everything was at the site. He also taught me how to cook over the fire. When we went hunting he showed how to properly use a gun. He made sure I knew how to put the gun on safety, clean the weapon, and shoot properly.

At first I didn’t want all this responsibility. It was too overwhelming. I couldn’t handle all the pressure. Life was stressful. I tried to solve the stress in negative ways. One night I decided to drink with my buddies. One drink after another and I became intoxicated. It was not good. I told things to my mother I was trying to ignore and hide. I was upset and I finally told her how I felt about my dad leaving. The next morning my mom spoke to me about what had happened. She reminded me that I needed to talk to her about issues that were bothering me especially regarding my father leaving. I am more honest about how I feel about my dad’s deployment and know that my family and I have many friends and family members who will help us if we need it while my dad is gone.

My father finally left on November 12, 2010. The month prior to his departure was very busy with farewell ceremonies and family gatherings with not just our family but the other members of his unit. I could see my mother becoming sad at times and I tried hard to cheer her up. When he finally left it was a relief. His mission was starting and my family could begin doing all the things my dad taught us.

It has not been easy since he left. My mother is much busier and she has a very sick father and sister. Due to this I have even more responsibility with caring for my younger brother. Life is very busy for our family. Many of the family members from the unit depend on my mother for support.

I am proud of my dad. I am happy that he has confidence in me to take care of issues in our home. It is not easy but I know I can do it. We talk to him on the internet everyday and if I am not doing well in school, he knows. It is reassuring to know we have contact with him. Sometimes it feels like he is right in our kitchen; laughing and having a good time. He actually helped my mother cook Christmas dinner while he was on Skype.

I look forward to him coming home in 11 months but things will be different. I know I will be different and more independent. My mom told me that being away from home is difficult for soldiers. She explained to me that when she came home from overseas she felt distant and isolated. She reminded me that it will take my dad awhile to feel a part of the family again. When he comes home it will be my turn to prepare my dad just like he did it for me.

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