Our Pages

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If it were up to me, I would pick Bicycles

I've always supported the troops and every single man and woman who put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we hold dear and near to our hearts and serve our country.

The military has always been a part of my family and my life in one way or another, with only a few short years when I did not know someone serving.  My father was in the army during the Korean War (way before my time). My husband was an enlisted Marine during Vietnam.  He spent his time in Japan and for that I am grateful. His two best friends, the men who stood up at our wedding, both served in Vietnam.  My husband is older than I am and while he was wondering if he would receive orders into the war zone, I was playing with dolls.  At the same time, I had a cousin serving as a Marine in Vietnam. Sadly, he was killed in action before I was old enough to really get to know him.

I have a nephew who joined the Marines and another who is in the Air Force and is currently in Afghanistan.  I try not to think about the danger he is in and keep him in my prayers daily.  There have also been friends who joined after high school and served during my adulthood.  I simply try not to think about the danger, something that has become second nature to me (or so I thought).

I learned to file the danger away after marrying a cop because it was necessary.  The first years of our marriage we lived in one of the top ten cities for crimes against individuals.  During the second year of our marriage, we experienced what was referred to as "Black August" when 8 officers were killed in the line of duty in one month in the state.  I would tell my husband each day that I didn't care if it was 115 degrees out, he was wearing his vest. Of course, he would have worn it anyway, I just felt the need to remind him there were no options as far as I was concerned.

Later we moved to a calmer community, but that didn't mean he was any safer.  The wrong car stop or a volatile family fight and things could go very bad for any officer responding.  A case in point, he was off work 8 months for injuries after responding to a family fight and wrestling with a man who was on some serious drugs.  So, quiet community does not equal a safe job for a cop. But, I learned not to really think about what he was doing or what could happen.  If I did, I would go crazy with worry.  I am sure there are many things he didn't tell me, or he told me much later.

As a wife and aunt, I can accept the danger and put it from my mind.  But, can I do that as a mother?

My son met with a recruiter while I was at RT.  He and my husband sat down and discussed the pros and cons with this young woman without a word to me.  I know why they did it. They knew I would freak.  My son has always been interested in the military. He joined ROTC his freshman year of school and often talked of joining the Marines when he graduated.  I bit my tongue because he has to decide his own path but I wanted him to do something safe.  You know, like origami.  Then, over the past year he was thinking about going to school in Colorado. He wanted to study bicycle engineering.  This was a career path I was 100% behind. He would still mention the armed forces. but I would remind him that people need good bicycles.

After I got back from RT, we sat down and discussed what my son wanted to do.  Instead of the Marines. he has decided to join the Air National Guard.  I met with the same recruiter Monday evening so my questions could be answered. While I am not thrilled that my son wants to enlist, I know he needs to follow his own path. Thankfully, he still has a year of high school, which means I have a year to get used to my baby  going off to boot camp and come to terms with the possibility that he may one day be deployed.

Have you ever had, or do you have, a loved one serving our country? How do you deal with the worry of the danger?


16 comments:

  1. Jane, I'm living the cop's wife life right now. My husband was an Army Ranger when we met and is now a detective with Raleigh PD. He was on the line for a long time and, knowing how hard the long hours and flipping from night to day were on the body, I worried he wouldn't be alert enough or at his best if something went down. I expected to breathe a little easier with him becoming a detective but no, a cop is a cop. He just dresses nicer now. ;}
    I sincerely hope my children choose a different career path.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andris,

      The hours cops work are horrible. Sometimes I wondered how my husband functioned with shift changes and overtime.

      Delete
  2. Jane ~ I cannot even imagine the shock you must have had to find out they did this while you were gone! My son has always leaned a little towards the military and I have always made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he would break my heart into tiny pieces if he ever did that. You're very strong to let him have his space to make his own path...I'm not that strong, I'll use every ounce of motherly control (be it guilt, bribery, you name it) to keep my son from enlisting. He's my only child and I truly don't think I could take the stress of having him in harm's way.

    Am I a bad mother for doing so? Probably. But I can't seem to help myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ava,

      Of course you aren't a bad mother and I would use guilt and/or bribery if I thought it would work.

      Delete
  3. This post is insanely timely for me. My baby brother is leaving the US tomorrow for Afghanistan. He's in the Army National Guard and has been for about 7 years, I believe. This is his fourth tour overseas. The first three were all in Iraq. He's part of the infantry. He's been a driver of a Humvee (scary for those of us at home), the gunner of a Humvee (scarier still), and part of the general's personal guard unit (still dangerous and scary). We don't know what he's off to do this time. He wasn't allowed to tell us. And he's going to have less contact with us at home than he usually does when he's deployed, so that will give us more time to worry.

    So...yeah. I'm going to be an emotional wreck again for the next year while he's in Afghanistan.

    One thing I do while he's on a tour is I try to AVOID anything militaristic in the movies and TV. I usually love historical films that are about great battles, etc., but I can't even touch them when he's overseas. If Braveheart or Blackhawk Down comes on the TV, I'm flipping it faster than you can blink. I can't watch those things. Instead, I try to occupy myself with light and fluffy things, whether that is through watching time-tested favorite movies, or through writing something for myself that will steer my thoughts in another direction.

    If all else fails, remember: chocolate (and for you, wine). And keep your friends who understand what you're going through on speed-dial.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Catherine,

      That is the same reason I tended to avoid cop shows. Even though they are fictionalized, the reminders of what could happen are not wanted. Plus, those were the last things hubby wanted to watch when he had down time. I'll keep your brother in my thoughts for safe tour and return.

      Delete
  4. Love to you, Jane! Sometimes it is so hard being a mother! My brother in law has been in every major military hot spot since Desert Storm. He's a great guy. Now his son is following in his footsteps. My other brother in law is a state trooper. Yes, the hours are difficult, but so is seeing so much of the hard side of life.

    Blessings to the heroes of the world and even more blessing to their mothers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deb,

      I don't know if I could do any of those jobs (military or be a cop). Military because I am a wimp and the first big bang would find me jumping and I don't think my heart could take witnessing some of the things police officers do, or face the dangers. Not sure my nerves could handle it.

      Delete
  5. Hi Jane!

    My husband was in aviation ordance during Vietnam which meant his job was to load bombs on aircraft on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier during Vietnam. My oldest sister's husband was in the Marines at the time stationed in Vietnam flying A-4's so it was helpful to have someone to talk to who understood my worries and concerns.

    I think it helped that going back to the American Revolution and possibly even before that the men in our family had served their country during times of warfare. My Great-Uncle was captain of the ship that got hit by a German submarine off the coast of New Jersey during and managed to get his entire crew to shore without a life being lost and 3 of my Uncles all served during World War II as well.

    It's never easy when a loved one in serving during a time of war and or unrest but it's at times like this they we find our inner strength and resolve. It was also a time when we both grew to learn that to be strong together we also had to be strong on our own, not only for ourselves but for our children, family members, friends and relatives. Like Tim McGraw sings in my favorite song - "Live like you were dying". Live each day to it's fullest and enjoy every moment - enjoy the good times and learn and grow from the difficult times. You'll e a better spouse, parent and person for it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeanne,

      How fascinating that you have such a long line of heroes in your family. Excellent advice! Thank you.

      Delete
  6. My grandson just joined the Marines and will graduate from Boot Camp in a few weeks. My husband and I plan to drive up for the Family Day and graduation. It will be with great pride that I see him in this new role and with great worry when and if he is stationed someplace dangerous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Connie,

      I totally get the pride and worry. I am so very proud of my son that this is something he wants to do. At least I have a year to get used to him serving since he has a year of high school yet and he will only be training in the interim. He simply doesn't want to wait until he graduates to join.

      Delete
  7. I can't imagine the potent combination of pride, terror, respect, and worry a military parent must feel. I'm sure all will be well, Jane. No matter what, clearly you have raised a fine, upstanding young man :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Erin,

    You hit all my emotions. I can't imagine how parents feel with children in an actual war zone. I am so proud of my son that I can't even put it into words.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh Jane,

    You have so poignantly crafted this blog. I have never had a loved one serve in the military and by nature of his disability, my son will not serve. However, I can only imagine the struggle that you are dealing with as a parent; to support your child's dreams while making sure they are as safe as possible. As mother's we like to feel equipped with a strong amount of control--those things that we can't control, are terrifying to us...then when you throw our children's safety into the mix, well then, that is even more of a struggle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christi,

      You are so right - the things we can't control terrify us - especially when it comes to keeping our children safe. Though I have a year to prepare before he leaves, I am not sure I will ever be ready.

      Delete