The recent holiday weekend had a special meaning for us.
As we celebrated our country’s independence, we were also thinking about all of the soldiers who have fought for our country and defended us.
My father served in the U.S. Air Force and fought in the Korean War. My husband, Paul, also served in the Air Force before I met him. Now, our oldest son is in the Army.
As I write this, he likely is in the woods, on the gun range, or doing some other sort of training. He is about halfway through his 10-week boot camp and we can’t wait to see him at graduation in August.
I’ve never been a pen pal with one of our four children before, so these past five weeks have been interesting.
The Army told us the soldiers would have little “personal” time, so not to expect too many letters, but they encouraged us to write to our children.
I had a few letters penned before he even left. I also tried to write every day or every other day, of course not knowing when they would give him letters.
We didn’t hear from him for a week or so, and when we did it was in the form of a three-second phone call, letting us know he was OK.
He didn’t sound like himself, and I cringed thinking how some big drill sergeant was yelling at him. He may be 23 years old, but he’s still my baby.
When I got the first few letters from him, they were small (on little paper) and short. He had only a minute to write. He did manage to write how much he liked my letters. Awww!
That, of course, fueled my letter-writing campaign. Especially when he said he has no idea what was going on the in world, either in news or sports.
I didn’t need any more prompting and got busy writing a complete update on world news, laced of course with my own opinions about everything. I got Paul and our youngest son to write the sports update for him.
One of my friends asked me how long my letters were and I said at least four pages. “What can you possibly write about?” she asked.
Besides the news, I have been relaying memories of him as a little boy. One thing I shared was how I used to punish him when he did something particularly egregious, which was often.
I would send him to his room and have him write me a letter explaining what he did and why it wasn’t OK.
He was a stubborn little boy and would often say he was fine just staying in his room forever. Eventually though, he would relent and write me a letter.
Sometimes it was a little too sarcastic, and he would be sent back to his room for round two of repentance letter writing. Finally, I would release him and silently chuckle at his cute wording of his sometimes not-so apologyish letter.
I always jotted down the date and the circumstances of the punishment on the letter before stowing it away in a drawer marked for such “treasures.” I still cherish those letters.
In the letter I received from him today, he said so far, this has been the greatest experience of his life. Wow!
For someone who is a whitewater kayaker and who has been all over the country and to Ecuador experiencing his sport, that’s pretty amazing.
He was quick to say it is a different type of experience, but he is so glad he made the decision to enlist.
We have always been a patriotic family and tried to raise our children to respect the military and thank our servicemen and women whenever they can.
We could not be more proud of our son and will now be thanking him for his service. In the meantime, I will continue on my letter campaign.
I may even keep writing letters once he gets his cellphone back. It’s so much more personable than an email or text. Do you agree?
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.