Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, July 1, 2022

A For-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 post about my son, the soldier.

Heading overseas.
In his first career, our second son was a soldier.
Engineer.
Mine/explosives expert.
Not a career his mama chose for him, I should point out. But one that, because he loves his country, he was happy to take on.
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.
To him and all who serve with him, thank you.
Happy 155th Birthday!

8 comments:

  1. Happy 155th birthday to your home and native land, Diane. Your son showed true patriot love, and, perhaps, saw an indication that he should have become a surgeon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your son sounds like an amazing young man with incredible patience and fortitude! All the best to him...Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a very moving story. Hooray for being able to stand/walk/sit on the grass.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Perfect story. So glad he went, and that he came home. Happy Canada Day.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes, thank you, to him and all who serve. Wonderfully written and a lesson in gratitude.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Happy 155th birthday to Canada and to its citizens. I'm glad your son was able to return home safely to his family.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Happy Canada Day to you and your son, and the rest of your family. Great story.

    ReplyDelete

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