Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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All of My Friends

Monday, May 7, 2012

Not the Career His Mama Chose



Heading overseas.
Our second son, in his first career, was a soldier.
Engineer.
Mine/explosives expert.
Not a career his mama chose for him, I should point out.
He was slated several times to go overseas.
But only did so once.
I probably should explain . . .
There is a good deal of heavy training that goes into a call overseas.
Both physical and mental.
My son’s squad had received their notice.
They were slated to go to Nijmegen, Holland
And were preparing.
Picture men and women running. Climbing.
And lifting heavy objects.
Sitting at desks and puzzling over complicated logic problems.
Okay, that’s how I pictured it.
In reality, their short tour to Nijmegen was one of goodwill.
So their training consisted of marching.
And marching.
The day of departure grew closer.
They were representing Canada.
They needed to be properly outfitted.
They were issued new uniforms.
Including new boots.
Which they were instructed to wear.
While marching.
Now I don’t have to point out to you what the combination of new boots and 8 hours of marching can do.
Our son developed blisters.
Blisters on his blisters.
Which immediately became badly infected.
You’ve heard about a soldier only being as good as his feet?
It’s true.
He was put on the ‘injured’ list and sent back to base.
Somewhat disappointed and rather embarrassed.
But another tour was announced.
A real tour.
To Bosnia.
Real training this time.
Including the aforementioned (good word) running, climbing and lifting of things heavy.
Two days before they were ship out, my son was clearing some brush near the base.
Using a machete.
Which he had just sharpened.
His hand slipped. Slightly.
And he nicked his opposite thumb.
Barely.
A quarter of an inch.
But it was a surgically precise quarter of an inch.
He managed to sever the tendon in his left thumb.
The surgeon assigned to fish out the two tendon ends and put them back together said she’d never seen anything like it.
Is she hadn’t been an eye-witness, she never would have believed that anyone could manage such a delicate and accurate operation with a scalpel.
Let alone with a huge machete.
‘Injured’ list again.
Sigh.
Needless to say, by this time, he was getting quite discouraged.
But I must admit that his parents were secretly happy.
Don’t tell him . . .
His third call came to serve overseas.
He again responded.
Trained.
And this time - finally - succeeded.
For the better part of a year, he served as head of the mine cell on the base.
He did well.
And was commended.
Then came home to us.
I remember that first evening, after he stepped out of our van.
He immediately walked over and stood in the middle of the lawn.
We stared at him.
What had our son been learning overseas?
“I haven’t stood on grass for 10 months,” he said. “You don’t dare. Over there.”
Huh. Something we had never really thought about before.
We had assumed all of his sacrifices were made in the going.
We hadn’t realized the extent of what he was giving up while he was there.

16 comments:

  1. Wow...it must have felt so wonderful to not have to worry about what might have been underfoot...you did warn him about the "dog bombs" didn't you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nah. He was raised with 'dog bombs'. He's on his own . . .

      Delete
  2. Erik never told me that he couldn't step on grass over there... it is kinda sad

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of the things we take for granted, right?

      Delete
  3. Those tiny little pleasures that we don't even give a second through to are probably the ones loved ones miss the most when deployed.

    I'm sure your wonderful son has a new view of the world 'round him. Thank him for my for his service. We cannot thank our soldiers enough.

    God bless ya sweetie and have a magnificent week!!! :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love hearing from you, Nezzy! I will pass along your good wishes. You are right. Until it hits us in the face, we seldom think of the sacrifices made. We can't thank them enough!

      Delete
  4. I am so glad he is back and safe My family will experience our first deployment next year. I am not looking forward to it at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hold on to him tight while he's there. And keep praying for him when he's overseas. Those prayers are heard!!!

      Delete
  5. Wow. That really puts it into perspective doesn't it. I need to take a look around me and add even more of the little things to my gratitude list. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had never even thought about it. When you don't dare walk around for fear that the very ground around you will kill. It sure put things into perspective for us!

      Delete
  6. Wow. He has our love, honor and gratitude. And I also wish him a future with a lot of grass underfoot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Joanne. I will pass that along to him. I will especially mention the grass underfoot! It was something that didn't even occur to us living here in Canada . . .

      Delete
  7. Such a powerful story, it is so hard to let our children go to live the life they are meant to live, even if it is scary. I am glad he returned okay:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you, Launna! We kept him close in our prayers. I don't know how I would have survived otherwise.

      Delete
  8. My psychosympathy kicked in while I was reading the penultimate (my good word!!) call up - my thumb's still twitching!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for you psychosympathy! Here's to thumbs!

      Delete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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