Friday, December 17, 2010

Minefields of the Heart: A Mother’s Stories of a Son at War by Sue Diaz.

Sue Diaz’s “Minefields of the Heart: A Mother’s Stories of a Son at War” is a remarkable book.  She gives us a unique point of view of the current war the USA is fighting in the Middle East – the point of view of a parent. The book caused me to do a lot of personal reflection. I remembered my own father deploying for a year tour of duty to Vietnam in 1963-1964. I was ten years old and remember the year vividly. I remember the anxiety. I remember the trips to the post office. I remember wondering what it would be like when he returned and if he would remember me. Then I thought of my own active duty as a US Army officer and wondered what my parents thought of my years of active duty.

No, I am not writing to reflect on me. I am pointing how the book made me think and reflect. Sue Diaz is a gifted writer. You experience the emotional difficulties as you see how she and her husband deal with choices her son makes about not going directly to college. You see how they handle finding out he has joined the army and the infantry. You see how meaningful the simplest contacts are with their  soldier. I loved her taking us through the “box” as a way of telling the story. I was interested when she said Roman had gotten a tattoo how she would handle it – it made me think of my daughter getting a tattoo and my son getting an ear pierced. I didn’t like their choice, but it was their choice. She shows us the unconditional love of a parent.

The sacrifices a family makes to accommodate a military family member shine through when we see her daughter’s wedding date changed. The stories of her going to the target practice with her son and the time between his deployments paint a picture many share.

I loved his arrival at Fort Campbell after the second deployment and how the simple saying of "Mom" was enough.

In many ways, I felt like the book shared the story of how parents handled both the unfilled dreams they have for a child and the social stigma many middle class feel when their child opts for the service instead of college. It is a story that will grab and hold your attention.

It would make an excellent discussion book for support groups. It would be good for recruiters to give to the mothers of recruits. It shows you will survive. It would also be a great addition to any community library. I would love to see her do a follow-up book where Roman reflects on his military service and she weaves her home front experiences with his deployment experiences. Well done.