MY EYES ARE DEFINITELY NOT BLUE!

The November weather made their trip to Georgia more challenging than if they had departed in the spring when Chuck graduated from college. However, he had to await his orders for their departure.

With Jalene’s illness during her pregnancy, the commute from Oklahoma to Georgia was difficult for her. Chuck was frustrated with Jalene’s physician’s order to stop frequently during the commute. Because of the swelling in Jalene’s feet and legs, her doctor knew being able to walk around for a few minutes would lessen the discomfort for Jalene. Chuck complained this would cause them to spend more time on the road for their arrival to Georgia.

Jalene was confused,  as she didn’t understand Chuck’s rationale. They had both resigned from their jobs and fulfilling Chuck’s military obligation was now the only urgent requirement. Jalene noted if they required additional time for arrival to Georgia, they could depart Oklahoma earlier.

However, with her relentless nausea, pulling off the road for Jalene to become ill was routine during the trip to their new, temporary home. The most memorable “sick stop” was upon arrival at  Ft. Benning. No sooner had they entered the gate for the U.S. Army base than Jalene had to find a place to become ill. Chuck quickly pulled into a heavily wooded area with a long drive. Several days later, he realized Jalene had “left her mark” upon the commanding general’s lawn. Both Jalene and Chuck were humiliated to realize this was a private residence. However, when nature called, there was no time to decipher their locale.

Jalene assured Chuck that with the darkness of night, they were not seen and with the heavy rain which had been falling during the incident, no trace would remain. Jalene always snickered when Chuck complained of this memory.  As she noted, she didn’t become ill at their front door or even in their drive. The actual residence was a distance from the area of Jalene’s illness.

There were numerous emergency stops for Jalene over the next few months. When no public restrooms were close by, shoulders on the roadway, grassy paths in parks and numerous parking lots became her companion during her illness. Additionally, an emergency room visit while unable to breathe was just one more reminder that she was indeed a “mother to be.”

Because Chuck understood one of the very first mandates as a new officer to Ft. Benning would be a visit to the base barber, he had chosen to allow his fine hair to be much longer than his customary style. Jalene was embarrassed as his hair appeared unkempt for weeks as he refused to have it cut. Little did Jalene realize that Chuck’s defiance would remain for the duration of their marriage and beyond.

On the very same day, Chuck lost his battle with his long hair, he chose to bring Jalene one of the greatest sorrows of their marriage. Years later while sitting in the counselor’s office of the battered women’s shelter in Ft. Worth, TX she would realize abuse comes in many forms. This was a moment which is indelible for Jalene. She realized in November 1971, her husband had never seen her, had never looked into her eyes, had truly never known her as a person, nor desired to do so.  She then realized she was merely one of his assets; not a person.  Now she carried his child and what was she to do?

Chuck was commanded to complete volumes of paper work upon his entrance to Ft. Benning. This included information of his present and past life, as well as personal data about himself and Jalene.

Jalene had sat alone in the car while awaiting Chuck’s check in procedures.  As he handed her copies of the documents which he had signed, she noticed the personal information about herself.  As she continued to read the document, she began hyperventilating as she sobbed. Chuck cited her eyes were blue. What?

God had bestowed upon Jalene three traits which she viewed as assets during her dating years in high school and college. The boys had always complimented her on those assets; her natural blonde hair, her well-endowed, natural chest AND her lovely green Scottish eyes.

Jalene was proud of her Scottish heritage from her maternal grandfather; born in Scotland and arriving in the U.S. as a young boy. Her grandfather had died when her mother was a young child. Therefore, Jalene was saddened she never knew him, but was proud when people would comment on her bright, green eyes. She always said, “they are from my Grandpa McIntosh.” Now her husband of almost 3 years had chosen to insult her by stating her eyes were another color.

WHY-?? As Jalene queried him, he noted he just wanted to write down something different.  Her pleas for an understanding of his actions were received with harsh, bitter and angry words. He wanted her to have blue eyes, not green, so that is what he documented. Jalene had always accepted him for the person he was. Why could he not do the same for her? She cried for days when she thought of his actions.

There would NEVER be an apology. To Chuck, he had spoken and Jalene would just have to accept it was his desire. Even when Jalene queried him about lying, he noted, it was unimportant. The U.S. Army wasn’t concerned with the color of wife’s eyes.  He wanted them blue, so that is what he documented. Even now 45 years later, Jalene weeps at this memory.

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