Sunday, March 20, 2011

Military Mom, Part Five

Note: This is the fifth in a series of sporadic posts about this military thing happening in our family (one son in the Army; one joining the Marines). How many Military Mom posts will there be? No idea. But more than five.

Dear Spencer,

So this is what two o'clock in the morning feels like on the day you leave for a year.  In four hours, I'll be waking you up.  In 6 hours, we will be headed for your send off ceremony.  In 8 hours, you will be gone.  Far away.  For a year.  A YEAR.

So much can happen in a year, as you well know.  Just a couple of days ago you listed off the important dates you'll miss in that year: family birthdays, a high school graduation, friends' birthdays, your birthday, etc.  And those are the things you know will happen.  What else will happen, unplanned, while you are away?  Will Duke still be around when you return?  Will friends fall in love?  Will OU's football season turn out as great as we think it will?

I'm afraid I haven't done enough to teach you what you need to know.  Dear friends and your dad have talked me down from that ledge, for the most part.  I mean, really, I've noticed from the laundry I've been doing that you remember to put on clean underwear on a daily basis.  My most recent get-you-ready-to-leave trip to Target revealed that you go through deodorant, razor blades, and toothpaste at a pretty good clip.  You haven't been kicked out of the Army nor did you get a ticket tonight when you were stopped by the police--both evidence that you speak respectfully to authority figures (alas, I haven't been able to impart wisdom about not speeding).

But what about God?  Do you know that you know that you know that He is who He says that He is, He will do what He says He will do, and that you are who He says you are?  Oh, son, please tell me you know these things.  Please take His hand on this journey and let Him lead you, sustain you, comfort you.  Let Him work all things in your life.  Trust that He loves you.

Your family loves you, too.  No matter what.  We always have.  We always will.

I have no doubt that we made some great memories in the last few weeks.  Having relatives here, specifically to see you off, proved to be just the thing, didn't it?  We had a great time laughing, talking, singing.  I watched as you talked Chinook physics, as you played the guitar, as you held adult conversations.  You are an amazing person, Spencer, and I'm awfully glad I've been allowed to be in your life.  I cherish our conversations, from the moment you started asking "why" (and you questioned way past the limits of my intelligence by the time you were two) to this evening when you were packing and we talked about the goodbyes you said today.  I will miss your sense of humor, your interaction with your brothers, your constant need for a new phone, your smile. 

For about a week, there's been background music in my head.  We've listened to it several times together, and it's been playing as a pretty constant loop, kind of an underscore for conversations we've had, my trips to Target to get you ready, as your dad and I had a conversation tonight about how you were born for this.

It is not possible for a parent to love a child any more than I love you.  Take every chance you dare, Spencer.  I'll still be there when you come back down.  But don't forget to Skype often.

I love you so. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Military Mom, Part Four

Note: This is the fourth is a series of sporadic posts about this military thing happening in our family (one son in the Army; one joining the Marines).  How many Military Mom posts will there be?  No idea.  But more than four.

My soldier has been away doing some training related to his upcoming deployment.  Following is a text conversation we had just a few days before his return.  But first, to fully understand the conversation, you need a bit of inside information:
1.  When Spencer was quite young, I would constantly tell him that "Spencer Duncan is Mommy's little pumpkin."
2.  While away at training, Spencer cut his hand on a knife that he was using to cut off a piece of salami they were eating in the barracks. He received one stitch. Twice. (It broke open while he was playing basketball.)
3.  During training, Spencer did very well in qualifying to use certain weapons.

[This conversation picks up right after he gave me the specifics of his gun quals. Pay attention to the spelling of the word stitch.]

Me: Awesome!  Do you have a new nickname like Deadeye Duncan or Sureshot Spence?
Spencer: My name is actually Spencer Stich Duncan, and that is what is going on my flight bag.
M: Stitch? Oh, son, can't you get them to change it to Pumpkin?
S: Haha. No, Stich may be a better one.
M: Please at least get them to spell it correctly.
S: How do you spell it?
M: Stitch.
S: Well, crud.
M: Is it a done deal already?
S: No, but they made me put it on my camelback.
M: That. Is. Hysterical.
S: Haha. Why?
M: Just job security for me, son.
S: What do you mean?
M: I proofread, Stitch.  Perhaps all future nicknames should be run past me first.
S: Perhaps you are correct.
M: How much does a new camelback cost?
S: I have two.  One isn't marked on yet. We can fix this. [This made me laugh out loud.] Plus, it's only in Sharpie--may be able to fix it anyway.
M: I'm sorry I'm finding this so amusing, but it is funny.
S: I don't see it in the same way, I guess. That or my sense of humor was one of the first things to go in this process.
M: Check. Did they make you turn it in at the gate?  Will they give it back to you when you leave?
S: I don't get it back.  It's considered contraband out here.
M: Well, good thing you have a lifetime of funny to pull out at a moment's notice.  And they don't take away everyone's sense of humor, or else your new nickname wouldn't be Stitch.  By the way, why didn't they name you Salami?
S: Well, we can't even spell Stitch.  How would we manage Salami?

[We then had a conversation about how his dog was doing and something I did that almost made her fall asleep, which is handy information to have with this dog.]
S: Wow.
M: Yes, I am the Dog Whisperer. But I will label my own stuff, thank you. I don't want you to make me the Dog Wiperer or anything like that.
S: Shut it.

I giggled for hours after that conversation, in part because it was just so good to communicate with him, and also because he doesn't like to misspell words or use words incorrectly. 

Now my soldier is home again, for a short time.  He had a big batch of the World's Best Chocolate Chip cookies waiting for him, he's been fed burgers and fries, his dog is thrilled to have him home, and his hand is healing quite nicely.  As I've thought about his new nickname, I've been surprised that he's okay with the name Stitch.  A fan of Top Gun, I expected him to want a really cool nickname, like Rifle or Cowboy.  And maybe he would.  But when it comes right down to it, I'm guessing he's thankful he got named Stitch before anyone in his unit found out about Pumpkin.

Spencer Duncan, you are still my little pumpkin, and I am proud of you.  God bless you, son, as you travel the path before you.  And don't forget to take a dictionary.