Every time Barbara Brody goes to the post office to mail goodies to her soldier-son, her heart grows heavy.
"I do feel sad when I mail these things," Brody, 51, a social worker, said yesterday. "We're very worried."
On Tuesday, she had mailed two Christmas packages to her son, U.S. Army Lt. Stephen Brody, 23, who is stationed in Saudi Arabia. The parcels together weighed 70 pounds and contained "a huge jar of Now and Laters," Tootsie Rolls, cashews, pistachio nuts, marshmallow treats and peanuts among other things.
Yesterday, she and her husband, Ed Brody, 56, hurried to mail three more packages to their son in time to meet the Christmas deadline for packages for troops in the Middle East.
Barbara Brody said her son has lost 25 pounds, but never complains about his desert duty in his letters home.
Ten days ago, her husband, seeking an outlet for the worry that he and his wife share, decided to create a parent-support group for Baltimore parents of soldiers stationed in the Persian Gulf.
"We just want to develop a group and discuss our concerns," said Ed Brody, who is chief executive officer of Brody Truck Rental Inc. "It's not a political action group."
The couple said they are concerned about the danger that may await their son, who has been in Saudi Arabia since August, and they believe other parents have similar feelings.
With the help of Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., Ed Brody has contacted two other families who have children in Saudi Arabia. Like the Brodies, the other families want more information.
"The purpose of all this is to acquire names of other parents so we can communicate," said Ed Brody. "It's sort of like a roller-coaster ride with the news. You're up and down."
Last week, President Bush decided to nearly double the size of the American military force in the gulf, giving it the capability of attacking Iraqi forces. This has caused anxiety among many parents.
"Some people are more angry than others. Some are more worried," said his wife. "This is a good place to get together."
So far, Ed Brody said he has had difficulty gathering names of parents, because the Defense Department has refused to release names.
Once he does obtain names, he said, the support group will invite speakers from Washington, D.C., to discuss the gulf crisis.
Barbara Brody said the group could bring parents into touch with their feelings.
"Hopefully, they'll feel a lot better and be able to deal with their sadness effectively," she said.
Anyone interested in joining the support group can call 947-5800 or 338-1331.