I seem to be stuck in time and am having trouble moving past chapter two of my book and into chapter three. When everything happened to General Stanley McChrystal I felt like I was swallowed into a time warp tossing me back to 1972.
After my mother lost my father it was some time before she brought someone else into her life in a romantic way. When she did, it was General McChrystal’s father who ended up being my stepfather. He had many children of his own already. I spent time knowing three of them, one which is now General McChrystal.
Of course at that time, he was attending West Point. I was allowed to visit West Point one time with my mother. I thought it was so very beautiful and clean and so big. It’s more than likely that every person and every place seemed big to someone who was 5 or 6 years old like I was at the time.
Stanley McChrystal was just a cool older person to me. He was serious when he was supposed to be. He took the military, and what being a part of the military meant very seriously. But he also was really nice. He had the best and warmest smile.
Of the three brothers that I knew and loved a bunch, ‘Stanley’ (he went by another name with his immediate family of which I leave private out of respect) was almost all the way grown up in my mind. He was at one of the coolest places I had heard of called, West Point. I was told it wasn’t easy getting in. But at the same time, when he was home, he was so gentle and kind and took life as it came his way. He didn’t ever seem to get too upset. And boy, was I the lucky one for this aspect of his personality.
You see, it was his birthday. So, I decided I would buy him something really awesome. I knew that he would love it because I loved it. I bought a huge bag of Skittles. I remember walking up and handing him his present. I can still hear the gentle way he said, ‘thank you.’ Looking back, my guess is that may not have been the best present for someone who was over 21. But as a little girl who thought there was never enough candy a person could have, it sure made sense to me.
Well, as I said, Stan is a gentle soul. But as it turns out, I had a sweet tooth back then. I’m talking about that king-sized sweet tooth that seems to pull you like a magnet to anything sugary sweet. So, it wasn’t too long after I gave Stan his bag of Skittles that my sweet tooth pulled me into his room and right to the bag of Skittles.
Yep. You guessed it. I ate every last one. I felt guilty. I knew he was going to find out. I knew he was going to want to eat some Skittles and when he searched for the bag of candy in his room, he wouldn’t find anything. I had to do it. I knew it had to be done. I had to tell ‘Stan’ that I ate his birthday present.
Slowly I walked up to him and got his attention. I don’t think I could look him in the eye. I might have been staring at his chin. But I did tell him that I ate the candy. And you know what that soon-to-be General Stanley McChrystal did? He laughed. He laughed a big laugh and looked down at me and into my pitiful eyes and said, ‘it’s okay.’
Sometimes you mess up. Sometimes you say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. But it’s how you handle it. And it’s also how people treat you that can make all the difference. That was one day I sure was glad that General (then Cadet) Stanley McChrystal was my step-brother. On that day, he was the best step-brother in the whole world!