Blogs by jeanne rene watson
New Year Ruminations
1/2/2010 11:30:02 AM
Thoughts upon our New Year... a U.S. Marine Mom reflections
Outside my window I can hear the shouts and merry-making of New Year's revelers, my good friends and neighbors. I smile … somewhat… at their enthusiasm. My poor pup, Rosie, has just hurried into the bedroom to hide underneath my chair, the firecrackers, shouts and banging upon pots and pans with stainless steal drumsticks, much more racket than she can handle. She'll remain under my chair until I move from the computer screen, but in the meantime I'll reach down every now and again to give her a reassuring scratch under her chin. Rosie loves those reassuring pats and scratches.
It is officially a new year in San Jose, California. Out doors the weather is pleasant, a bit cold, but no rain at the moment. I’ve just googled for a weather link and searched for the current conditions in Afghanistan round about the area(my best guess anyway) in which my son, Johnny, put on his boots this morning and kicked up some sand. To my surprise the temperatures “over there” aren’t bad at all for the 1st day of January, 2010; sunny during the day although much cooler tonight. I’m happy that the weather is pleasant today in Afghanistan and I’d like to imagine our brave young men and women looking up into the sunshine, feeling its warmth on their face.
It’s 12:13AM and some jubilant neighbor continues to pound heartily on a sturdy pot. It’s 12:13AM and I sit here seeking my own reassurance within the memories of past New Years’ midnight heraldry when my two boys joined in chorus with the other young scamps beating the bottom of moms’ skillets and shiny pans on damp front lawns or in the middle of the street until called from the front porch. "That's enough now boys, come on in." Ahhh nuts … the foolery was over ... such a shame. I smile as I remember how in their innocent ways they were happy to celebrate the future.
And so, 2010 has arrived. An overwhelming amount of history has occurred with the passing of these last 10 years and being a lover of history, cultures and politics I can converse, argue and examine for hours on end any number of topics. I miss my father at these times … we were always at opposite ends of the pole, but that made the discussions/arguments all the more stimulating and the comradely between father and daughter a cherished one. My father was a Navy Seabee and WWII Vet … all in all serving 30 years in the military, 10 years active and 20 years in the reserves. (Within those 30 years is a 4 year stint in the Army …lol… go figure. I guess he was just curious.) Johnny is so much like my father, quiet, unassuming, loyal and stubborn as hell.
These last few months of 2009 have probably been the most reflective and contemplative of my entire life, more so than even the passing of my father and father-in-law. In both cases, I knew what to expect with their illnesses, it was pretty much mapped out, a transparent perspective of what was to come next with each succeeding day. But, this emotional road map, the one that is immediately downloaded internally when your son or daughter walks out the door for boot camp isn’t so clear. You’ve now taken the position of walking behind your Marine, you are blind-folded trying to trace his footsteps, and you forge on, trust remaining in your heart … trust in his decisions and trust in the leadership that holds him steady on his chosen road. You go about your day, talking to coworkers, raising other children, laughing with friends, consoling a loved one who needs an extra hug, but always stirring right at the surface of your consciousness, your daily waking and sleeping, are visions of your Marine. Sunday through Saturday, you keep your head above the flood of thoughts and imagined images so you can breathe.
Sorry I’m so long winded … lol … I’ve just been thinking overtime.
For the last four months of 2009 much of my rumination has been centered around what it means to have a child serving in the military, and how it is my heart and mind can equally embrace my tears and my pride. My reflection has been a profound realization of what it actually means to be an American citizen, and a discovery of definition concerning courage and sacrifice and service.
As far as background to my own son’s decision, it was not a surprise to anyone in our family that Johnny chose to enlist in the military. I could go so far as to say that all the signs were there from very early childhood. My son had two main passions from toddler to adulthood, cars and anything military. First, starting with plastic vehicles of any kind, my husband and I, would watch Johnny as a toddler, neatly line up the his cars and trucks in row after row. As he grew older matchbox vehicles were soon overtaking the floor space in his bedroom and creeping into the hall way and living room (He still has all his matchbox cars). The matchbox contingency was soon overshadowed by mini tanks and armored cars, airplanes and helicopters and little green and tan soldiers, and full scale battles were fought (with sound effects) on multileveled terrains across the floor, over shelves, dressers and twin beds. It was a hoot to watch the energy put into setting up battlefields or to ease drop on spontaneous stratagems barked by little olive green Lieutenants and Generals. The toy soldiers and tanks were gradually replaced with wartime and military movies and books. Even as a young boy when on camping trips where we’d often go into town (Jackson CA) to browse through the antique shops, you’d find Johnny searching the rows of old books looking for anything that had to do with military history … U.S. or otherwise. Truth be known, it was actually earlier today, this afternoon, that I went into my son’s room to dust and looking at his bookshelf and titles . . .
Exploring the Bismarck
The Day Fort Sumter Was Fired On
Nam, A Photo History
Desert War in North Africa
Guadalcanal, The First Offensive
Air War, against Hitler’s Germany
History of Japan
The Long road to Gettysburg
Omaha to Okinawa
Give Me Liberty, An American History
Prelude to War, WWII
The Korean War
The United States in WWI
Military Uniforms 1686-1918
Baghdad, Without a Map
Band of Brothers
. . . I felt compelled to sit down and write. Evidence enough as to his interests … lol…
There is a U.S. Marine poster at the foot of his desk. It pictures an AH-1 Super Cobra and reads “Marine Aviation-Sustaining the Force” and of course “The Marines, the few, the proud.” That poster has been push-pinned into the wall since he was in middle school. I recently discovered a picture of Johnny sitting at his desk laughing, he looks to be about 12 years-old and the poster is in full view in the snapshot.
Johnny wanted to join the Marines right after high school, but I asked him to wait, to continue school for a while. High School was not my son’s favorite place. Matter of fact I was thrilled when high school was over. My son disliked it so much he refused to show up at graduation. He never was one to get into the “high school scene” and that worried me some, but he was a good and bright boy. At my request he did try community college for a while … and was lost. He went to WyoTech, an automotive trade school and was found. He worked successfully for some time as an auto mechanic in a local San Jose business…. but was not fulfilled … his soul, his core sought something more. He told my husband, “I see myself walking up the driveway as a Marine.” My husband simple told him to follow his dream. He did so, came home from the recruiting office and hugged me and said, “I‘ve enlisted.”
“I know. I‘ve been waiting. I love you.” That was all that needed to be said.
So today I can say my youngest son, Johnathan, has traveled quiet naturally, in the direction of his early passions. He is a certified auto mechanic (remember those matchbox cars) and warrior … a Untied States Marine in the 3rd MAW (well … that poster had been trying to speak to me too for all these years).
And, now I am a Marine mom, sitting here at my computer, typing away and trying to comprehend all that I feel inside. I guess you could call this my New Year’s resolution … a commitment to my soul searching, an understanding of my calling as an military mom and a statement of my pride.
Returning home form Camp Pendleton this last September driving along I-5 provided miles of uninterrupted time to reflect upon my son’s upcoming deployment. Much of the time however, I was not thinking about Johnny or any immediate fears, but rather upon my heritage and the fact that for whatever purpose fate or God may have, I am an American, born American and bred American from two distinctly different backgrounds. On my maternal side I am only a second generation American, my immigrant grandparents having successfully pursued the American dream and all its potential. On my paternal side my ancestors are harder to trace, but I know of their crossing through the plains and of service during the Civil War and I know their roots were firmly planted in our history long before I came into being. I’m sure many share a background similar to mine.
I am grateful that fate placed me on the soil of the U. S. A. and I believe it is a blessing to be born here. I am not naive to our imperfections, but I believe we, as a nation have an indelible aspiration to right the wrongs, to protect and to serve mankind. I do not believe that God loves us any more than any other nation on earth, but let it suffice to say that I do believe he has a purpose drawn out for us.
And, as I drive along Interstate 5 … as one thought leads to another, tumbles into a litany of noble cause and purpose, of speculation upon our American history and our American future, I know deep-seeded within my bosom beats a red, white and blue heart. I understand completely the oft quoted adage “Freedom is never free.” It never will be and we should count our blessings that our all-volunteer armed services are there to protect and sacrifice. I realize and understand the full meaning of my son’s service.
I am gripping the steering wheel, looking in to the horizon and I understand my grandmother’s tears 50 years ago when I asked her why the lady across the street had a gold star in the living room window. I understand why my father, weak and frail, in silence slipped off his Navy ring, placed it in my hand and wrapped my fingers around it. I cannot understand why, but know that I must always give a special embrace to my husband, knowing of his pain felt coming home unwelcomed and unsung after the Vietnam War. I understand, that as the mother of a U.S. Marine, my tears nourish my pride, my pride tenders my strength and my strength holds steadfast to my faith.
12:57AM Friday January 1st, 2010: Rosie sleeps peacefully under my chair. It’s quiet outside. It’s quiet inside, except for the tapping of the keyboard. Afghanistan is so far away.
God is ever near.
Happy New Year U.S. of A. … may our Lord guide you into time unknown.
Happy New Year to each and every man and woman serving in our Armed Forces abroad and at home …
An extra Happy New Year shout to the U.S. Marine Corps …
Happy New Year, LCpl. Johnny. I love you, son.
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More Blogs by jeanne rene watson
New Year Ruminations - Saturday, January 02, 2010
Thoughts from a Marine Mom.... - Thursday, April 09, 2009
Dr. Martin Luther King ... #1 - Monday, January 19, 2009