It is safe to go outside and bre- athe. Wher- ever you live in the con-tiguous United States, I imagine you have noticed how suddenly the air quality has improved. I know why, my friends. I know why.
My oldest OS took a shower. That putrid smell you have been inhaling is gone! After three days of extensive field training at Camp Buckner, my odious oliveshoot received a much-needed and merited blessed encounter with hot water, soap and shampoo. All is well! The fog has been lifted!
If Nate smelled anything like he did when we picked him up for Christmas break, that child certainly was ripe without a shower for three days. During Christmas break, Nate’s flight had been delayed and he came home a day late. He had to return to West Point and since it is fairly shut down during Christmas, he returned to WP unable to wash up. When we picked him up, I felt like I was hugging Pigpen…remember stinky Pigpen from the Snoopy cartoons? My boy was a handsome yet acrid mix of perspiration, bad cologne and an onion-like smell, ew.
This time at Camp Buckner, affectionately known as Camp Fun-Fun, my Soldier has not enjoyed slumber on a soft cot with a Green Girl each night. To the contrary. This week Nate had his first experience sleeping on a rock. I never thought about having a child who has slept (should I say, passed out!) on a rock. Hmmmm… He pulled security for two nights and maybe got only six hours of sleep in two days. He chomped on David’s Sunflower Seeds (it’s better than chew!) and kept vigil all night taking only small naps while his buddy kept watch. I have seen my OS grumpy from sleep deprivation so I pity anyone who had to endure his wrath. On the other hand, that might be something special Nate just saves for his mama… 😉
At one point, covered in muck and sweat, his Company did a six mile ruck (hike/march) up a mountain. Nate likened it to climbing up a very steep gravel road. Then his foot began to ache and he feared that somehow it was broken. He hobbled 15 minutes on his lame foot in order to get transported for medical attention. A smelly, overtired 19 year old with sharp foot pains must have been quite a sight. My own experience with a broken foot left me rejoicing when he told us that he just had tendonitis and merely needs to tape his foot and take some anti-inflammatory medicine.
I don’t know what to think when my son relays this information. Am I worried? Yes. Am I proud? Absolutely. Am I scared? Sometimes. I love hearing his stories and at once find it all terribly exciting tinged with some maternal anxiety, after all this is MY boy.
Before I became the mama of a Soldier, I was immune and ignorant to the sacrifice of our service people. The scales from my eyes have been lifted, as the Bible says, because I am learning firsthand all that we require and expect from our military. And how many of us don’t truly appreciate all that’s done for freedom.
They don’t get to sleep on comfy beds every night or enjoy time with their family when they are out on a mission. Instead they protect us.
I think of my OS with leaves stuffed all over his helmet, camo paint covering his face and ears, exhausted and reeking to high heavens and I experience a mixture of humility and gratitude. Whoa. There are so many servicemen and women out on the real battlefield doing the same, risking their lives for you and me and countless others. I have a cousin who is an Army Chaplain serving overseas, what a brave and selfless man!
Soldiers gobbling up those MREs, (meal, ready to eat) hobbling around on a wobbly leg, finding a grit within themselves most of us can’t imagine and we take it for granted.
So today as you enjoy the fresh summer air or as you are soaking in a tub or relishing the hot water flowing out of your shower, take a moment to lift up those in the military who didn’t have that luxury. Pray for them, their families, thank them in some way.
We can all breathe a lot easier because of our service people even if they haven’t bathed in days…