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Life Arts

Jerry and Candy - Family of War

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opednews.com Headlined to H4 10/28/09

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Jerry, Candy...and Jason


JERRY and CANDY hadn't understood why JASON wanted to join the military in the first place. True, his education fund hadn't grown as they'd expected so the GI Bill would help" add to that signing bonus the recruiter promised.... More than anything, though, Jason was thrilled to be part of, as he put it, "something bigger than myself, working for the good of the country and all its people, they'll know that we did our best to keep them safe here at home..."
Neither Jerry nor Candy could argue with that. Isn't that what so many of us want after all, to feel we've contributed something positive and left the world a better place?

All of that is beside the point now. Jason's injuries are such that it is hard even to picture him in a regular job. It really takes it out of a family when a child - an only son - is injured like Jason.

He has many surgeries ahead --just reconstructing the muscles around the hole that used to be his mouth will takes months. Jerry fell apart just once and that was the night Jason's friend, Frank, was found floating in his family's swimming pool. Frank had swallowed all his pain killers -- god knows the military is not shy when it comes to handing out medications --downed a few beers, knocked himself out by diving into the shallow part of the pool, and drowned.

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Frank's father found his son's note apologizing for taking "the easy way out" but that he "couldn't stand being a freak -- and no woman would ever love him again." That night Candy awoke with Jerry sobbing in bed. Then it all poured out of him: how he'd not protected his only son; how he'd failed as a father, a husband, a man. He felt he'd failed as a citizen and betrayed his kid in the process.

Candy knew Jerry was terrified Jason might kill himself too. Frank and Jason had been in the same IED explosion. Frank's face had also been burned but he'd lost his vision - at least Jason could still see using those awful glasses. The boys had comforted each other throughout the skin grafts, the reconstruction surgeries, the physical therapy, and the rap sessions.

When Jason learned of Frank's suicide he'd just nodded his head and stared off into space -- but now he refuses to come out of his bedroom. Jason is only 22 years old--what will he do with the rest of his life?

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As for Candy, well, each time she tries to understand her own feelings her heart squeezes and pain radiates over her body. She's afraid she'll faint or start screaming and never stop. Her friends are so careful with her now, as if they're afraid they'll say the wrong thing. She's sorry that she only has fears and worries to share now but isn't that what friends are for? Support? Understanding? How could this have happened to her? To her son? To her family?

How will they ever recover?

Author/artist Statement

I create pieces for this Family of War Series as I find that art and images are an effective way to express and communicate with those who don't read much or are overwhelmed by what they read. Here, my sculptures use the human face to encounter the horror faced by families of those injured in war. And holding that the suffering of Iraqis and Afghans- and so many others - are not yet receiving much attention.

Feel free to comment on the symbols used here.
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www.motherspeak.org
Susan Galleymore is the author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror, sharing the stories of people in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and U.S. [Pluto Press 2009]. She is also host and producer of Raising Sand Radio (more...)
 

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