One month from today we will see him in Georgia. It is impossible to overstate how much I am looking forward to this. It's something I picture in my mind a lot - hugs, tears, laughs and food. I have so many questions, but in the end, I think the weekend will be filled with a lot of comfortable silence where we just relax and enjoy the fact that we are all together again.
Wow! Well it's not quite a phone call or text, but a fellow parent on GoArmyParents.com pointed us to a site with tons of pictures from OSUT and BCT at various Army bases. Lo and behold, after endless clicks of the mouse, I actually found three very clear pictures of my son. I cannot really express how much joy it gives me to see him, especially because in two of the pictures he is smiling. I will try to remember this day when I am feeling down again!
Today feels off for some reason. I think it's because this forced radio silence is so uncommon in today's world. Yes, people live far away from friends and family, but there really is no reason to be totally cut off. It seems like the phone should ring or an email should come through so that we can check in and just say hi. The letters are great and I feel like we get all of the great details about his daily life. What I'm missing is the natural exchanges that I usually have with friends and family via social media. "How's your day going?" "Pretty good, not a lot going on, how about you?"
We have hit an important milestone though. In one month we will be packing to leave for our family visiting weekend at Fort Benning. I can't wait for that weekend, for the chance to feel normal again, just sitting around on a Sunday doing nothing.
"DS Winn, who talks like the Easter Island head in Night at the Museum, saw the pic of my car and said 'Really? That's your pride and joy? An old Volvo?"
"I've heard through the private news network that we might get a phone call soon after white phase begins. I hope they are right."
"I forgive you for putting tofu in the spaghetti. I'd pay good money for a decent bowl of spaghetti. 'Army ketchup with noodles' is no exaggeration around here."
"You asked about the food. It's hard to explain. It's not good, but it's not bad. It's not too filling but not filling enough. If a high point is pudding and strawberries, you can guess towards the flavors in the average chow hall meal."
Regarding combat training, "Next thing I know, I have a bloody nose and a fat lip. I was told to go sit down until my nose stopped bleeding. This is where I'd love to tell you that as soon as my nose stopped bleeding, I got up and charged back into the ring. But what really happened is that I sat down and milked that bloody nose for all it was worth and didn't go up against the evil Rocky villain again."
After what seems like forever, he has received and now responded to our letters. We were away at our family camp, but thankfully our oldest was able to read us the letters over the phone. "Hey guys, I finally got your letters! Best morale boost I've had in weeks." Music to my ears for sure!
He continues to share lots of news in each letter. Thankfully he 'only' had to do 30 burpees for the packets of letters we sent. We were surprised to find out that 'thanks to the miracle of Tricare, I now have a new filling and the right side of my mouth is numb.' We were not surprised to find out that a lot of his colleagues had comments about our oldest daughter when they saw the family picture I sent. He said the most polite comment was 'beautiful' and that he would not mention the rest.
He has been very busy with grappling, combatives, marksmanship and rappelling and an obstacle course. I will list some highlights in a separate post. As hard as this is, I continue to be very relieved that his sense of humor comes through in each letter and that he sounds like he really is having fun. I guess that's a weird way to put it. More accurately, it sounds like it's what he had hoped for and he is enjoying the challenges.
This Tweet and pic seriously cracked me up. This type of thing reminds me that my son, and many of these kids, are really doing what they've dreamed of doing for a long time and even thought it's hard, it's not without it's good times.
Thank goodness we got a letter today. Seriously I may have been curled up in the fetal position if another day had gone by without hearing anything. Unfortunately, as of the time he wrote it, he had not gotten our letters, which really really makes me sad. But, I have to hope that he has gotten them by now and is really happy to find that the first letter actually had about five or six letters inside.
So, some highlights include that he has to do 25 push ups or burpees per envelope received. I really hope they don't find out that one letter contains so many inside. He is entering the third and final week of Red Phase. He said that last week they went to the range simulator, did land navigation - which he barely passed (no surprise to me) and as we know, went into the gas chamber. Then, "I maxed my PT test! Seventy-six push ups, 74 sit ups and 13:24 for a two mile run. Felt like a beast after that."
His description of the gas chamber really freaks me out - to say the least. It involves holding of breath and burning skin. Thank goodness he was the second one out. Apparently they used 6 gas tablets for this exercise and in the past they used to use 36. I can't even imagine how horrible that would be. He's getting paid soon and needless to say, he's happy about that. He's going to be a 'mortar man' apparently and still wondering if Ranger school would be a good path. I think the reality of how hard it will be, knowing how hard Basic is, is making him think twice. I am glad to hear it. If he wants to do it, then I fully support him, but I've watched enough Discovery Channel to know that if you have any doubts, you'll wash out and probably pretty quickly.
I am so proud of him. When I get his letters, I feel so many emotions. I miss him so much it hurts. It literally hurts. I love hearing about every detail and I'm so glad he likes to write. One of the most touching things in the latest letter was that he included a separate note to his brother. I didn't read the whole thing, but I did see the first line. "Hey, it's really weird not being home with all of you and I really do miss our gas station runs." Like most brothers, they had a love/hate type relationship. At one moment they would be laughing about a South Park episode and the next moment chasing each other around the house with intent to harm. Those days are gone for now and I'm not going to pretend I miss the fighting because it really stressed me out. But I cannot wait until October 5th, when hopefully they will make a gas station run together and then sit up late watching Quentin Tarantino movies. That will be the night I feel that all is right i the world again.
Uchee Creek Campground
Lodging for his graduation!
Last week we received 'the letter' from our son's commander giving us the dates for the family weekend and for his graduation. Between today and yesterday, I have booked hotels, flights and more hotels. I have filled out my requests for time off. These kinds of things make me feel good. It's not just busy work, but busy work with a really happy purpose. These days my friends and I are often reflecting on how fast time flies and I know enough not to wish it away. Having said that, Family Weekend cannot come soon enough. Even though it means summer will be over and another school year will begin, I DON'T CARE. Bring it on. I want to see him!!
A Soldier's Mom
This is a journal about my experiences as a soldier's Mom. My son gradated OSUT at Fort Benning in October 2013. He is currently stationed at Fort Carson, CO.