Homecoming

I’ve got boots by the door and a truck in the drive. And while I know that sounds like the start of a bad country song, I’m happier than I’ve been in months.

My eldest, who my regular readers know headed to US Army basic training several months ago, is home. Not only home, but home with a plot twist. Due to a fractured knee, he has been medically (and honorably) discharged. I can’t thank you all enough for your kind wishes, prayers and words of encouragement. I am sure all that good juju helped the situation resolve itself.

For my newer readers, he left home, months ago, with a chip on his shoulder. Upset with me for my frank talk about the military. While I admire the men and women who serve, I have no illusions about glory and honor. They may come, but they come with a flipside that includes some ugly bits. No mother wants her child having to experience the ugly bits, from PTSD to loss of life and limb.

But just a week and a half ago, he was waiting for me when I arrived home on a cold Saturday, sitting on the family room sofa as if he’d never left. And let’s just say he was more amenable than usual to a prolonged hug. His first request was for comfort food—my homemade mac-and-cheese. And then, for four hours after that hug, he sat and talked. And talked. And talked. I heard the details of everything from urban assault training (“so cool, Mom”), to how he learned to shower in the 15 seconds allotted after standing in a line with nothing but a blob of soap on his head. And some much heavier bits—the things you don’t hear in base public relations missives—suicides, racism and more.

Thirty pounds lighter and a bit more worldly-wise, he is still my eldest child. The one who has always kept me hopping, the one I haven’t quite been able to tame. But I accept him where he is—and he seems to be doing the same for me, showing a maturity in that respect that must have been earned on base. The boy that left had no stomach for 5 a.m. workouts but the man that came back seems to. Workouts that he keeps insisting his mother should do with him. Oy. I’m all for aerobics, but boot camp workouts? Those are insanity. He texts: “Want to go work out?” Despite my protests that today was supposed to be my rest day, he’s firm: “No days off. Gotta’ make gains.” Who is this man?

He heads to college soon, but I’ve got a bit more time with him before that happens (Think of all the workouts we can squeeze in. Oh joy.). And after not being able to see or speak to him during the three months of basic training, seeing him off to college will be a cakewalk for this mother. Knowing I can talk to him anytime is a blessing I don’t think I’ll take for granted again. I’m not allowing myself to think about his talk of possibly rejoining a few years hence. A lot of life miles to travel before we have to cross that bridge.

A friend recently mentioned that maybe my son has a warrior spirit after watching his mama do it on her own the past six years. If so, that was not the lesson I was trying to teach him. I always thought I was a dove at heart. And then the last six years happened. I don’t enjoy a fight but I do not back away from one. I just do my thing–what I feel is right–and I fight for those I love, especially when they are too young to do it for themselves. I guess if that defines a warrior—then that’s not such a bad example to have.

I never in a million years thought I’d have combat boots by the door and a truck in the drive. I’m more European in my tastes, from coffee to cars. But this Christmas, the huge boots and truck are just about the best present I could have received. Wishing you your own equivalent this holiday. Let the merrymaking begin . . .

 

 

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52 Comments Add yours

  1. nimslake says:

    Ahh Kay!
    Pure bliss and happiness! To know your eldest is more mature and able to accept those hugs he last left off with as “not the thing to do”.
    Yes wait to see how the years change him regarding re-enlisting. It may come to pass but until then enjoy the man he has been shaped into most recently. 🙂

    My brother served his 4 years and spent a big chunk in “Desert Storm”. The stories he never shared, and I know that he did once with our Mom. She never said anything about that shared time. But the pain in her eyes was enough for me to know it was not “pretty”. War never is.

    I saw how that time changed him, I very rarely see the puckish grin he used to be so quick with in his youth. I rarely see a smiling man as he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders even now, so long after it.

    But the War changed my brother, he’s always driven and he lives in the moment day to day. It is like the Past’s dogs him to be always busy and always in the “now”. (I’m sure it’s because it’s the way due to drills and training, but also to the losses he experienced.)
    When I do get to see him and he’s had a drink in the evening to loosen him up, I get the lesson of talking to those I’ve not talked to, as tomorrow may never come. And about forgiveness…yeah (another long story).
    He feels the need to share those bits of wisdom as is his want to make peace with his path of just being, living and all.

    Yes, the bliss of your eldest being home, is a blessing. May he always be the shining light he now knows he’s capable of being.

    Nims

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I am so sorry that your brother carries such heavy things. My son still talks a lot about reenlisting in a couple of years. And I worry about those heavy things. There is no way for him to even begin to anticipate what he will witness and may have to do. I certainly do have a renewed respect for the Warriors among us.

  2. srbottch says:

    Maybe, Kristine, he’s a natural born warrior. There must be many to fill all the ranks. But Basic Training is a good experience for a young man. There should be a time in a young man’s life when he has nothing to say about nothing, just do as told. As for staying in shape, we all vow to keep exercising to stay in shape after our military training. It’s probably rare that anyone does. I wish your son ‘luck’ as he ‘keeps on truckin’.

    1. candidkay says:

      I think you’re right, Steve. He’s wired for it. Thanks for the good wishes!

  3. Karen Lang says:

    Just got to read this now! Beautiful home coming for you, so glad he is safe and well 💚💕

    1. candidkay says:

      Me too😉. Thank you!

  4. Welcome home to your kiddo – even in combat boots, they are still our kiddos. Love your perspective and strong sense of self. I’m also very happy he’s home.
    My youngest was always interested (and suited) to serve. Opportunities at college took him a different way, and, I’m happy that it all worked out.
    Congratulations on raising an awesome young man – I love it when our soldiers come home ❤️

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! It’s a Journey I don’t think you understand unless you’ve been through it. And it sounds like you have some experience :-). I am very happy that he is finding his way in college right now. And whatever he decides, he decides. We raise them to live their own lives, right?

      1. Sooo wise and true. Part of my quest to “stay still” has a lot to do with my kiddo. Once I stopped trying to manage and guide, he blossomed and made some awesome decisions. They’d cringe, but they are still our “little” boys ❤️

  5. I’m so happy for you, Kristine! i know I would feel the exact same way as you do. ❤

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! So happy to have him back and free.

  6. George says:

    I just love this post, for so many reasons. Mainly because your son is home and healthy and that his presence makes you complete again. I don’t know either of you but I get the feeling that the things that make him who he is….his determination to live life his way and on his terms, is a reflection of you and all that he’s witnessed in his life. Just me guess. What makes you proud, also makes you a bit crazy. It may be little like looking in the mirror at times So smile and enjoy. Have a great holiday season. Merry Christmas and God Bless.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, George. He definitely insists on living life on his own terms. Came home with pierced ears and a tattoo😨. Yes, crazymaking. But also my son and I do love him. Merry Christmas to you also! Hope you can gather everyone in one place and enjoy❤️

  7. Masha says:

    I’m happy for you and wishing you the best holiday.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Wishing you the same.

  8. Amy says:

    This is just the best news, Kristine… What a wonderful Christmas gift: togetherness. ❤ xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      It sure is, Amy. Wishing you and yours the same this year❤️🌲

  9. Roy McCarthy says:

    Happy for you Kristine. He’s not too upset over the discharge? Or at least he’s ready to accept it and move on?

    1. candidkay says:

      He’s been pretty philosophical about it, Roy. He made it to the very end of basic training–just couldn’t pass the running exam because you can’t run properly with a fractured knee:). I think his excitement over going to college–and having a plan–helps. Thanks for the kind thoughts. Hope you’re looking forward to a lovely Jersey Christmas!

  10. Well, this is the best damn thing I have read in a long time. Sorry about his knee, but just means that a new and better adventure awaits him. I hope you have a wonderful holiday together and that you enjoy every single second. Duh, I know you will. Hug the crap out of that boy, and don’t stop!! Very happy for you, Kay!! xo

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes! Hugs freely given here and willingly taken😀. Thank you for the kind thoughts. I’ll take this twist of fate, gladly.

  11. I’m happy to hear about the surprise homecoming, and that you’ve been able to talk through it all. That has to be a great gift for the holidays!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Andrea. He did the talking and I did the listening . . . but I think that’s what us moms do, right? We know when to zip it and listen, and when we can offer counsel.

  12. messagemaggie says:

    I love that you talked. And talked! Enjoy this time!

    1. candidkay says:

      Well, he talked. And I did a lot of listening. ❤️

  13. Su Leslie says:

    Sounds like a very good outcome – although I hope of course that his knee heals well. I can feel your relief.

    1. candidkay says:

      Me too! Praying it heals to be even stronger than it was previously. I guess only time will tell.

      1. Su Leslie says:

        Good physiotherapy will help, and he sounds motivated to exercise and take care of himself.

  14. bone&silver says:

    I would HATE it if my
    son joined the army… so I can share your relief that he’s home and hopefully out for good hey? 🙏🏼

    1. candidkay says:

      We’ll see. One thing I’ve learned as a parent is that we think we mold them, but we don’t really. We really just try to shepherd a very strong personality that came into this world with its own wants and wishes :-).

  15. Bryce Warden says:

    What relief you must feel.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh yes. To the moon and back 🌝

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! It feels good. Normal. Happy☺️

  16. stolzyblog says:

    what a pleasant outcome, and one I suspect will lead to new unexpected things. glad for you 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I hope so! As long as they’re good unexpected things.

  17. Glad he’s home. Glad he is in one piece (mostly, at least, that knee doing a bit of a jiggle at the moment, and the lbs he’d lost that a goodly amount of mamma’s cookin’ might put back on his ribs). Glad he’s talking … Military service has a way to change some notions of hardship and priorities in a hurry.
    SOOOO glad he’s home.
    Did I say I’m glad he’s home?
    May all these pairs of big boots (and trucks, if necessary, and I’ll suspend judgment about 5am workouts! Yikes!) come home with both feet and all the moving living loving bits and brains and souls and spirits that belong to them intact.
    Amen.
    Na’ama

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! And welcome to my blog. So glad you stopped by. I pray that same prayer for all soldiers now—that they come home with both feet and all their bits intact, inside and out. I so appreciate your kind words🙏🏻

      1. 🙂 My pleasure. I’d stalked Dale over to your blog a couple days ago and I’m glad I had — great writing, good stuff.
        And … as someone who has people in her family who’d come back from war, and some who hadn’t, or who hadn’t come back whole (in one way or another), I can appreciate the depth of relief and awe (and remaining tinge of worry over what had been experienced) in having him home and hopefully out of harm’s way.
        May they all come home intact, inside and out and in all the ways that matter.
        Take excellent care and have a lovely (Mac & Cheese filled) holiday season! 🙂 Na’ama

      2. candidkay says:

        Oh, I’m so sorry about the ones that didn’t come back or came back less than whole. I really had no idea until my son enlisted how very difficult it is for military families. Your loved one just kind of goes into a black hole we are communication is tough. And knowing that their job is to one day fight people who want to kill them, well it just breaks my heart. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season surrounded by those you love :-). And Dale? Well, I just love her💕.

  18. mydangblog says:

    So blessed–what a great Christmas gift (hope his knee is OK!)

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Supposedly his knee will be OK. I guess we’re going to live on into that one. He is walking just fine without crutches :-).

  19. How nice to have your son home safe and sound with a deeper bond and acceptance between the two of you.

    1. candidkay says:

      It truly is nice to have him here.😀 Thanks!

  20. From comfort food to long hugs, coffee and trucks to early morning workouts, savor all that you have around you now that this special young man has returned for a while. Love all that you’ve shared with this post. We all grow in so many ways throughout life, warm and wondrous ways when we’re lucky. Embrace it all.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I’m savoring:). A lot. It’s nice to have a full house again! Thanks, Kathy, for the kind wishes.

  21. Dale says:

    Though I am sorry your son fractured his knee, I am happy for you to have him home in one piece and not all “weirded out” as some do become once they join the army. And if one of my sons asked me to work out with him, you can bet your booty I’d do my best!

    What a fantabulous Christmas present you have received, Warrior Mama! (Yes, wear that badge with pride. You can be a dove when necessary… 😉 )

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Dale! I did see a change in him at first–was a bit worried. But I think it was the shock of coming back to civilian life. And even in the 10 days he has been home, I see him more his old self. Wish me luck at the gym–sore from yesterday but I better keep up, eh? 🙂

      1. Dale says:

        Of course there has to be some change – but at least he didn’t get to that effed-up stage (a friend of mine dated a guy who entered the military and he came back a total wacko – was the end of their relationship).
        As for the workouts – can’t hurt you none – unless you overdo it, of course!

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