The summer of August soon changed to the autumn of September and things were swiftly changing for me. My careless days were quickly coming to an end at Sister Theresa’s and, soon enough, by the middle of September, I was ordered back to the 4077th.
Despite moving a few times in the summer, coming upon friendly and enemy fire many times over and working with shortages, Henry and the gang were the same as ever and working harder than ever before. I could hardly wait to see everyone again (even Frank and Margaret), but dread about the future – mine, theirs and the baby’s – still hung onto my mind like a cloudy day. I needed them as they needed me soon enough.
Hell, being away from them would not help my cause apparently. There was no medical help for miles around the orphanage and the good Sisters depended upon me to help the children, as was originally suggested by Father Mulcahy. However, I was soon to give birth and I needed my own medical help, help that nobody there could give to me. The 4077th made sense, of course, and I was ordered back, bringing back words in Korean from the children, hope and faith and the faces of all of the children I could never see again.
However, ahead of me was the 4077th: Hawkeye, Trapper, Henry and the love I so desperately craved. I needed the love and support of others around me and not many little ones underfoot and asking me for this and that. Would I help them with their schoolwork? Did I find any food for lunch? Was Father Mulcahy coming to visit soon? When was I having the baby? Can they see the baby after he or she is born? Can they hold the baby?
So many questions and I had no time to answer them all!
I looked forward to seeing everybody back in Uijongbu again, even my brother, Dean, who I feared for, as he was fighting at the Front again. However, to see them again was to be torn away from the orphans, who gave me their own kind of love, even Hee Young. She helped me to understand her culture and language, helping me to appreciate it more. However, with it came sadness: her own country coming apart at the seams and her own life, like all of the others, coming apart along with it.
* * * *
“Oh, Jeanie, I am so glad to see you again!”
Henry greeted me when I came back into the camp a few days later, Father Mulcahy driving me to his tent personally after a long drive talking about everything. He comforted me in every way, of course, and I felt at ease finally. Father Mulcahy was a good guy, and meant well in every way, but to have comfort from a priest confused me, an agnostic in every way.
Was I changing? And is it for the good…or the bad?
I struggled to get out of the jeep and, slipping out carefully enough, waddled my poor, fattening behind to Henry, who stood with Hawkeye and Trapper. Father Mulcahy yelled that he would drop my bags back at the nurses’ tent and drove off, leaving a bubble of dust between me and the men who would held me together for so long now. My father, my love and my brother: they were all there, before my eyes, as I struggled to keep my eyes from tearing up and sobbing with happiness and joy.
“Hey, Love, I’ve missed you.” Hawkeye had his turn when Henry was done holding me and whispering about how much he still loved and missed me. “Petite Jeanie has turned into a hippo. What will Major Baby think?”
“She’s in Tokyo, thank God,” Trapper added, laughing.
“And Frank’s as obnoxious as ever before,” Hawkeye laughed as well.
“Men, men, men, we also have much work to do,” Henry tried to tell the two, but it went over their heads as they laughed harder. “After last night, I don’t think Frank wants to hear about you two, other than working on your shifts, which seemed to have been cancelled today.”
“What did you two do?” I asked, eager to have another laugh and be happy once more, despite my heavy load, breaking my back and my spirits sometimes. I was in fear sometimes, wishing for some female guidance, but knew that there was none. I had to be on my own.
“Jeanie, as you can see, the latrine is being shared by both male and female personnel, officer and enlisted men, in this camp alike, right over there,” Henry began in a lecture-like tone as I saw the long line on the other side of the camp. “As of last night, there will only be one latrine until the enlisted personnel manage to…to, umm, fix the other one.”
“Dropping the walls to the male one was worth it,” Trapper laughed again.
“With Frank Burns inside,” Hawkeye added with another twinkle in his eyes.
I stifled my giggles when I saw Frank coming up behind me immediately after the prank’s contents were revealed to me, trying to imagine the scene from the night before, as I’ve always done when being described yet another one, but images of the orphanage and the children giving me a farewell party came before them. Tears threatened me again, but I would not let them come down. I couldn’t afford it.
I could not! I have no regrets. I could never have them!
“Colonel Blake, this woman should not be here!” Frank saluted Henry.
Henry saluted back, ignoring Hawkeye and Trapper’s mirth and their pathetic attempts at saluting Frank, which were nonexistent.
“Captain Morrison has been ordered here, Frank,” Henry reminded him. “You know this. She can’t go home just yet, remember?”
“Still, Sir,” Frank whined back, “she should be anywhere but a war zone!”
“If you haven’t noticed, Frank, this whole country is a war zone,” I pointed out.
“Fi!” Frank yelled. “This is a little station outside of the country you can be, Captain. You’ve acted the –”
“Don’t you dare, Frank!” I screamed in anger and resentment, aware of what he was going to say, as almost everybody else in the camp as called me (save for Father Mulcahy, Henry, Hawkeye, Radar and Trapper). “I can’t leave this damned country on orders and it’s killing me already. Damn you and –”
“That’s fine and dandy now, Jeanie,” Henry interrupted me. “Frank, go to my office and we’ll talk it over. I have the paperwork somewhere. Just ask Radar for it and we can review it together to your satisfaction. Is that hunky dory for you now?”
“Yes, Sir,” Frank replied, humbled finally and saluting again. “Sir, and one more thing: it’s September twentieth, twelve hundred hours. Shouldn’t Pierce and McIntyre be on shift today?”
“We have two wounded soldiers in there, Frank, and we’re free.” Hawkeye smiled. “They’re going to Tokyo and then home soon enough. Would you like us to smother them?”
“Har, har, har,” I heard Frank say, suddenly walking away to Henry’s office with our gallant Commanding Officer right after him, jogging to keep up with the Major’s fast pace and yelling orders to us behind him.
What Henry said to us, I could not hear. I was keener on ignoring them. And what we didn’t hear, we can say we couldn’t follow through on.
I turned back to the Captains instead, smiling and not feeling flushed and angry anymore. “I take it that it’s been boring here?” I asked.
Trapper smiled. “Not with Frank around,” he replied, laughing once more.