Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Real Canadian

Canada Day.
For those of us who think Canada is the greatest little corner of the earth, a time to reflect on our blessings.
And so, a re-post about my son, the soldier.

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. Your son is a hero no matter where he was. It is not easy being a soldier. I am grateful for all they do and appreciate everything they go through to keep us safe and free. I salute him. B

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Buttons! It definitely wasn't what I would have chosen for him. But I was grateful to him. And to his friends. One of whom didn't come home . . .

      Delete
  2. We will always be indebted to those who serve. Many thanks to Erik and those who continue to ensure our freedom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Words cannot express my appreciation . . .

      Delete
  3. Congratulations to your son for being a man of honor and dignity and integrity (besides being a little accident prone) and to you for raising him so (not the accident prone part, though).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was really starting to wonder if the heavens were aligned against him serving overseas. He has had NO injuries since! :) But he is nothing if not persistent!

      Delete
  4. A great post for Canada Day, and a fitting tribute to your son and all those who put their lives on the line for others. Thank you to them all. It must have been a tremendous relief when he returned safely from his tour of duty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think of them constantly. It was such a relief when I held him once more. One of his close friends didn't make it home. A roadside bomb ended his life and changed the life of three other friends forever.

      Delete
  5. What a beautiful post about your son. He is so brave to serve, and you are so brave to let him go (not that you have a choice, but you know what I mean). Congratulations to you on raising such a wonderful young man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so proud of him. Not what I would have chosen for him to do, but grateful that he chose to do it. And grateful to those who continue to do it.

      Delete
  6. "...stood in the middle of the lawn."
    And appreciated every single blade of grass I bet.
    It's good to hear of sons coming home safe and sound.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so happy that his service ended well. The next rotation didn't. One of his friends didn't make it home. And three others were changed forever.

      Delete
  7. God bless him.....I'm so glad he came back home safe and sound...so many do not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We were blessed to have him come home to us. The next rotation wasn't as blessed and I think of their families every day.

      Delete
  8. It's funny my son was the same way when he first got back from Afghanistan. He missed trees and grass.

    ReplyDelete

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