Sunday, May 25, 2008

This Memorial Day - I Give You PERFECTION

OK, I'm biased, and I'm opinionated....he's perfect to me.

As another year goes by and I've had time to think about what my son really means to me, I am blessed and overwhelmed by the joyful and often shocking pictures my son sends to me. He wants to memorialize his duty time in the best possible why he can. He wants to remember the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, and well - the crazy out-of-this-world whacked out times as well. You try sitting in the barracks for days on end with negative 50 degrees below zero! Sooner or later someone is going to suggest a sledding adventure, gun or no guns, there's going to be a party in the snow!

Last Fourth of July, when the troops were up more than 24 hours because they had leave but the sun never went down, Reuben and his buddies were buying firecrackers just after midnight and somewhere around the 4:00 a.m. point one or the other of the soldiers noticed that the morning bugler was getting out of bed and getting dressed. What a concept, they realized the 5th was upon them and they were about to P.T. after blowing up toys with black cats and cheery bombs....boys are boys are boys are boys.

Sometime around Labor Day my son broken another ankle, then a wrist after that, and just after Christmas, after he had left my house in November, he put a knife through his hand. He called me to let me know he was OK - how do you do that? How do you put a knife through your hand and have the wherewithal to call your mom who wasn't worried (but now she is) and you tell her you're driving yourself to the hospital to have the knife removed. It wasn't his first trip to the E.R. They called him by his name - again. At least he had clean underwear on I'm told, but why would he need to show them off if he was just getting his hand stitched? I try not to ask.

I guess what I'm getting at is that somewhere between the fun, the games, the physical therapy, the rucking and the Meals-Ready-to-Eat recipes my son learned how to drive, navigate, rotate and maneuver more than 5 tank type vehicles. He can read radar screens, give a life-saving tracheotomy if necessary, he can shoot the proverbial fly off the rock over a mile away - of course the rock won't fare well either with the cannon he's using, but he can certainly hone in on the fly if need be. Somewhere in between the mountain climbing, sledding, snowball fights, and required field training my son learned to be what he always knew he would be - a United States Army soldier.

When I was pregnant with Reuben and knew he would be a boy I knew that he would join. I fought it of course, I used to come up behind him in school when the recruiters were looking at him and I'd push him away - move along son, move along. I remember a face-to-face confrontation with a particularly brazen recruiter who just wouldn't stop dogging my son. "He's not joining! Leave him alone", I remember telling the man - and when my son turned me around, took me by the shoulders and said "Mom, I am joining, and I'm joining to protect you and my sisters from everything out there that you need to be protected from." It hit me. I wasn't looking down at a little boy, I was looking up at a man.

Letting go was the hardest thing I had to do - and I do wait and count the days that my Baby Boy has to be away, but in the deepest part of my heart I know he is doing exactly what he is suppose to do, he is doing exactly what he wants to do, and he's doing it his way for the most part. Having played football for 11 years helped my son to take orders. Calling his Commanding Officers "Coach" sometimes gets him into trouble, but you get the picture. That face, that heart, that smile...this Memorial Day I give you: Perfection!

To my darling Baby Boy, Private First Class Reuben Stringfellow - Thank you. I love you.

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