You Betcha I'm a Proud Army Mom

Ramblings of an Army mom and probably some rants about the world at large. These are my ramblings and rants and no one else's. Just so you know...

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Location: California, United States

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

After Enlistment

I can't believe that it's been a year since my adventure as a Military Mom began.
So...D~ was actually enlisted - Whew! still takes my breath away when I think about that day. Well, we got through the Holidays. I remember looking at Devon Christmas morning and thinking this will all change ~ how many holidays will be spent without her from now on? Then promptly turning away from that thought and deciding to just enjoy every minute I had left with her. She spent the school break like any high school kid - going out with friends and working. Then it was back to the regular school schedule.
In January I got the phone call I was dreading but knew was coming. My sister in law called to tell my Dad had passed away. Just a few days before his 84th birthday. I was just so grateful he was able to stay in his own home and not be hooked up to machines in a hospital or sitting in the hallway of a nursing home, waiting to die. We were planning on visiting him in February, as we hadn't been able to get back east for over a year. I was so sad that he hadn't been able to see D~ one more time. She was the apple of his eye.
Well, being that it was January and being that my Dad lived in New England, we decided on a Spring memorial for him. See, the cemetary doesn't do winter burials there. Plus, the fact that a lot of the people that would come to his service were over 65, we thought it would be easier all the way around to wait until spring. It was easier in some ways but somewhat harder in the knowing that we had it still ahead of us.
So we went on with our daily lives, and planned to go back east in late April. Sundays were hardest - Dad and I would talk on the phone every Sunday. I still pick up the phone to call him, then I remember.
As time went by, D~ and I focused on planning for her Graduation, ordering her ring and invitations and cap and gown. I didn't spend much thought on her enlisting. I was just taking it one step at a time. It was as if I was in some strange limbo - mourning my Dad but not having the closure yet of his burial, knowing that D~ would be ending a huge stage in her life and embarking on another one that I just couldn't spend much time thinking about. I just kept hearing that tick, tick, ticking of "the clock".
Then D~ started thinking maybe she didn't want to go into the Army. Maybe college would be a better choice. And a whole other roller coaster ride began! We started to look at options, it being late in the college application process. I suggested she talk to her recruiter about ROTC. So we waited for him to find out information about that. It wasn't as easy as I had hoped. She was too late to get an Army scholarship for the Fall semester. She had found a college in Michigan that had a good Veterinarian program and was also ROTC. It also was very expensive, especially the first year as a non-resident. But I told her we would find a way, that we supported her no matter what direction she wanted to go in.
Then it was time to go back east for Dad's service. I was planning on staying a month to help my brother with the house. N~ and D~ stayed over a week but they had to get back to work and school. It was so strange to be in my childhood home all by myself - no Mom and Dad, no D~ or N~. Bless my brother and sister in law - they had me over for dinner every night. D~ was still unsure about the Army. She was getting really anxious about the future. I told her we'd take care of that when I got back home. Not to worry about it, to just finish up school and focus on graduating. I was getting anxious myself not knowing where she was going to be come Fall. If she continued with the Army, her ship date was going to be August 24. Most colleges would be starting around the same time. Tick tick tick...
I have to say I was relieved on one hand that she was rethinking the Army. I just couldn't bear the thought of her in Iraq, getting shot at or bombed. On the other hand, I thought the Army would be good for her. Give her focus and discipline. But what if she did go to Iraq and got hit with an IED...or was shot and got killed. How could I live with that? I had damn near lost her at her birth. And I'm determined to meet my grandkids, by God's grace.
Besides, this not knowing was drivy me crazy! I need time to be able to adjust. I do much better when I know what it is I have to adjust to. I tend to get real wingy otherwise.
I came home and we had a talk about it all, looking at her options and talking about what it was she wanted to do; not what she thought anyone else wanted her to do. I told her to go and think about it. She had time. If nothing else she could continue to work and go to the Junior College here and then transfer next year.
By her graduation, she had decided that she wanted to stay with the Army. She had several talks with her recruiter as did I. He never pressured her and looked into any option she thought of.
So began the countdown...the clock seemed to be ticking louder and I found myself crying at the drop of a hat. Standing in the cookie aisle at the grocery store, at the beach, or turning down a certain street. And I had the attention span of a gnat.
I hardly saw her after her graduation, between her job and her social life. She was my " blur child" - blurred in, blurred out. But I didn't care really. I wanted her to have the best summer ever. We had decided to have a shipping out party at the beach in August instead of a graduation party in June. That way she could see more people before everyone left for school.
June ended and we went through July. By August I was on auto-pilot. Then my husband's brother died and his Mom was diagnosed with throat cancer a week before D~'s party. N~ told me that we would of course have D~'s party. And his mother, having just watched her son die and finding out about her own illness, made the trek to the beach to be there for D~. And stayed the whole afternoon. Quite a spunky woman, she is. I'll always appreciate that special gesture from her.
It was a very good day. 10 days before D~ was to leave.

to be continued...