A name, an identity, a mom and a son…

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fam303When my oldest olive shoot leapt in my womb, I loved thinking about his potential name. I very much like my first name and realized the great responsibility given a parent to pick just the right one. After all, it’s going to stick with them all his/her life, right?

The Hubs and I kicked around a lot of first names before finding the right one for him.

The one thing I knew for sure was that Nathan would have a distinctive last name.

A last name that was hyphenated.

This idea was not met with thunderous applause. In our extended family, my mother-in-law, (may she rest in peace) said some regrettable things about our decision. That only made the woodworm of pride dig deeper in me. Nothing and no one could thwart my resolve.

So on that treasured spring day, my baby entered the world. We signed the birth certificate, sent out birth announcements and we all settled into family life. Two brothers later, 4/5 of our family are known by our special last name. It rarely presented an issue.2013-07-04 07.36.20

But when Nate decided to go to West Point, he began to mention that people were perplexed about what to call him. His first last name? His second last name? The first year, (plebe year) at West Point, NO ONE calls you anything but your last name! This only compounded the issue. The last day of plebe year, there is even a special ceremony where the other cadets actually acknowledge that you even have a first name if you can imagine!

Throughout his time at West Point, Nate noticed that his name was longer on his uniform than others. Eventually he shortened it unofficially because according to him, even the clever-minded cadets just couldn’t figure it out and he was tired of the confusion.

So it wasn’t a surprise to me the day Nate mentioned he wanted to just have one last name. I gulped but understood when he announced that he was going to use only my husband’s/his dad’s last name from now on. Honestly it made sense and I could appreciate the reasons behind his decision.

2013-05-10 13.33.10My maturity about the whole thing has impressed me. As vehement as I was in insisting that he have both of his parents’ last names, I have remained compassionate and impartial. I completely respect his decision. He is a man of honor, integrity and character. He will be married in November. I cannot hold him down nor do I want to impede his life whatsoever.

But here comes the raw part – I’m going to admit something…a new emotion that has risen to the surface a little bit…

2013-05-10 17.14.52When I learned that my OS would be getting a new birth certificate, one with just one last name, it felt like a rope burn to my heart.

Ok, so now I’m crying while typing. There is NOTHING that will ever change my affection for my olive shoots.  Our connection extends far beyond a dumb hyphen. My boy’s decision wasn’t an offense to me as a mom. Still, when the Hubs called me upon returning from the court-house to facilitate Nate’s name change, wow, I suddenly had a hard time. I was fine with Nate changing his name from 2014 and onward but gosh, going backward in time and doing it??? OUCHY!

Thinking of him having a new birth certificate brought sadness. I harkened back to that day in the hospital when we declared his name.

There are lessons to learn through all this. Besides encouraging them to walk with the Lord, my boys deserve respect and support of their decisions. I can do even if it stings a little. Since he is an officer in the Army, Nate has endured endless background checks, mountains of paperwork, and clearances to make this happen. True to Nate’s personality, he has been diligent. It’s the least I can do even if it stings a little. Furthermore, my sweet boy has spoken with tenderness about wrestling with the decision. Maybe he felt like he was betraying the family and what we have stood for. Nate, if you’re reading this, I know you love me and I understand!

299311_10150412030338018_3766445_nHis name is Nathaniel – it means gift of God and though the last name is changing, I am blessed to always be able to call him my son. I can do even if it stings a little. Perhaps I even will get some monogrammed towels for him after deployment to celebrate his decision!

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Warmth – Brazilian style

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photo 5Temperatures plummet all around the country but we experienced a heat wave of sorts. A Brazilian blast of kindness warmed our family these past few weeks as we enjoyed spending time with Chico’s parents. I have loved ones in Qatar, Chicago, El Salvador and Brazil – we’re all over the map!

Since last May, the Lord opened the door for new people to enter our home. Most who entered as friends left as members of our family. Some through actual marriage proposals (Lu and Kelsie) but others through spending extended time in our home – they became W-H’s, an extension of our olive shoot branch.

And it’s interesting, the timing of it all. Disease and deception ushered a person out of our lives. Without a proper goodbye, a thank you, a warm embrace, nothing, nada, zilch, poof, he was gone. I don’t recommend it. So while recovering from the pangs of loss, these people have been a healing balm to our family. We haven’t forgotten this person but we have moved on in order to survive. He hasn’t been replaced but God has opened new chambers of our hearts. I know many people who have experienced a loss can empathize.

On Sunday, we said our goodbyes to Francisco and Leyla. We enjoyed going to church together and I was deeply touched to sit by Chico’s mom and to hear her singing the refrain “Hallelujah” in one of the songs. Tears streamed from both of our eyes as the music played. It’s safe to say that a year ago none of us had any notion how close we would feel to one another. I didn’t really personally know any Brazilian people until September. Now it’s like our family has grown exponentially just by adding one charming borrowed Brazilian olive shoot into our home.

After church, we went to a restaurant. As the meal was ending, Chico’s dad went out to his car to get something. When he returned, he approached the Hubs holding something small in his fingers. He then gently took the corner of the Hub’s jacket and carefully attached a small gold item to the collar. With a few emotional words in Portuguese, he embraced and kissed my husband and that’s when we saw this.

photo 4In some way, it re- minded me of when Nate was pinned as an officer at West Point. Our dear friend Colonel Eric Kail com missioned Nate. We will never forget that moment or that man.

It also reminded me of the kindred moment when Nate was tabbed by his brothers after completing Ranger School those memories flooded back to me.

I’m not sure Francisco understood the significance of his gesture but based on the tears that flowed afterward, perhaps we all did. Francisco’s gift to my husband was an acknowledgement of trust and connection. That pin proudly sits next to the Army pin on my husband’s coat. The cold weather allows him opportunity to display some of our dearest and deepest connections.2013-07-12 12.17.27

The  feeling of being deemed worthy and proven can warm a heart and that little pin of our two flags was a profound symbol between 2013-07-12 11.19.16men. When people enter our lives, they leave an impression. In this case, it was an enduring and deep connection neither family could have expected.

Remembering a Ranger – a message of wisdom and service – thank you, Colonel Kail, RLTW

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photoIn January, my son sought advice about Ranger School from a man he trusted who had been there, done that way back in 1998. (Massive understatement)*

At the time, Nathan had no idea how treasured this email would become only six months later.

On July 24, 2013, Colonel Eric G. Kail passed from this life into eternity with Jesus after a valiant fight with transitional cell carcinoma. Amidst tears of sadness, Nate, the Hubs and I were reminiscing about Eric’s impact on our lives. During that phone conversation, our son casually mentioned this email and began to read it to us.

With my (now) Ranger’s permission, today I share this email as a sort of eulogium to a great man. Even if you’re not in Ranger School, my hunch is you will appreciate the insightful words written by a man of great honor, Christian faith and wisdom. Eric would get a kick out of knowing he was featured again in my blog! He was always such an encourager.

Here’s the email…

Nate,

Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished so far, and for snagging a Ranger School slot. Thanks for asking, here’s my two cents.

1. Ranger school is not fair, nor are the people who run it. I don’t mean that negatively, but rather just as a fact. I saw far better soldiers than me not make it through the first week due to injury and some were even picked on and singled out until they quit.

2. Try to learn something about yourself everyday and acknowledge the work of your peers. No one likes an overt cheerleader who comes across as trying to get the squad to like them. However, quiet and man-friendly encouragement goes along way.

3. Consistency is key, especially when you are member of squad and not the patrol leader. Spotlighting is only working hard when you are in charge, and it is an ugly thing.

4. Remember the school is designed to get you to your worst point, and then deal with it. So, things like packing list changes and last-minute fragos are by design and not something you should ever let get the better of you.

5. You’ll have moments and days when staying at Ranger School is the last thing you want to do. Two things help. First, always find something (never someone else) to laugh about. Second, you’ll spend your entire army career helping soldiers over come hardship. So, learning how to pull yourself out of despair is a good skill to acquire.

6. Never feel sorry for yourself, although you may want to daily.
Keeping a journal of just a few comments or bullets each day will help you reflect on this when you are back in the real world.933882_621564467863032_1204880649_n

7. Enjoy becoming a dangerous and competent man, but not pridefully. Our society is too quick to put sweater vests and choir robes on Christian men and to domesticate them into mediocrity. We need strong warriors who understand unconditional love and possess the will to manage violence in our defense.

8. Most, if not all of the learning you will accomplish is about yourself and your failures while in Ranger School. You’ll learn some cool stuff, but more than anything you’ll learn the value of never quitting. I had to remain in the elevated push-up position for two hours one evening because some instructor wanted to get an LT to quit. Two hours seemed like an eternity then, but merely a blink of an eye now. Funny thing, I ran into that instructor years later and we had a good conversation on my terms. He was a small, angry man inside and out.

9. On your worst days, remember that your future soldiers and NCOs are counting on you to finish what you completed. Don’t worry if you get injured, that happens to the best of them. But when you show up with your tab, your soldiers and NCOs will know that at least you finish what you start.

10. Soldiers only want to know one thing about you. Will you take care of them or drive them like a rental car. Completing ranger school tells them up front that at least you know what it feels like to be driven like a rental car and are less likely to do it to them.

Hope this helps. I’m very proud of you Nate.

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img_2250* By the way, Colonel Eric Kail was Ranger certified in 1988. He also did some other awesome things like marry a wonderful woman, have two kids and other important things like get a Ph.D. and publish a series on leadership in the Harvard Business Review. Eric served for over 25 years as an Army Field Artillery Officer in both conventional and special operations units. He has several combat deployments, including Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. Among Eric’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device for Valor. While our family knew Eric as a close personal friend, Eric was most recently the course director for military leadership at West Point.

On behalf of my entire family, Eric, you will be missed but we mourn not as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). See you soon, Colonel Kail.

Other blog posts you might want to check out:

Colonel Kail is my friend, part two

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Eric and his family.

Eric and his family.

Lord willing, Colonel Kail will have a retirement ceremony on 31 May at West Point, then the packers will come three days later.

With the diagnosis of stage 4 transitional cell carcinoma, life began to drastically change for the Kail’s. The one thing that hasn’t wavered but remained steadfast is Eric’s optimism and faith.

Eric is an awesome dad and husband. He’s a Colonel in the United States Army and has also served for over 25 years as an Army Field Artillery Officer in both conventional and special operations units. He has several combat deployments, including Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. Eric also has a PhD in organizational psychology. His latest assignment was as the course director for military leadership at West Point.

Impressed? You should be!

Here’s where you come in. Would you be so kind as to pray for this man? Eric has a few medical procedures to complete prior to heading for Texas. A few new spots on the spine and sacrum causes weakness in his right leg and severe pain and stiffness in both legs.

Though he moves around like a 90-year-old man, Eric retains his wit and wisdom.

In return for your prayers, with Eric’s permission, I am sharing a recent experience he had at the airport.

Here’s the remarkable thing that happened to him at the airport.

I’m very prone to take matters into my own hands and to gut things out, get the mission done without complaining. I was beginning to feel like my ability to do certain things was dropping off and a book I was reading allowed me to spend time covering God’s instructions to Elijah.

Specifically, delivering bad news to Ahab then going to live in a cave during a drought.

God told Elijah that he would have birds bring him food; not the kind of delivery we think about for food these days. Now, I’m not by any means comparing myself to Elijah, but the lesson was clear.

God will provide every internal and external resource needed to do what He calls us to do.

Well, the day after I read this story I met a complete stranger in a crowded airport lounge.

He was an Indian man who is a missionary living in the U.S. and still tied to missions work in India aimed at reaching their remote tribal populations.

In fact, his son had died in his 20s while working as a missionary in a remote tribal village.

We began discussing what we did and he asked about what God has called me to do through my battle with cancer.

I shared with him that unless my health took a positive swing, that I may have to curtail my speaking engagements and such.

Then he asked me if I knew much about Elijah.

I laughed and shared with him about what I had read the day before.

As my son would say, "Colonel Kail is the man!"

As my son would say, “Colonel Kail is the man!”

So, we stopped what we were doing and he prayed for me right there in the middle of a very crowded airport lounge.

He prayed specifically that God would make clear his provisions for me and my family as we set out to do His work.

No way it was an accident that this man and I spent an hour together in a crowded public spot.

It gets better.

The next day, my devotional was from 1 Kings, specifically Elijah’s meeting the widow who had just enough flour and oil to make one last meal for her and her son before they died.

Elijah instructed her to make some bread for him too, and that God would provide for her until the drought was over. She did and her flour and oil never ran out.

However, her son did die while Elijah was staying as guest in her home. She asked if this was a curse from God. Elijah took the boy up to his bed, laid on top of him, and prayed three times for God to restore the boy’s spirit to his body. God did just that.

So, I get the message pretty clearly.

Our natural default is to look for our own strength and resources to do even what God has called us to do, when He will supply all we need.

This is hard to do when coordinating things like a final move, buying a home, arranging travel, conducting a retirement ceremony, and oh yes, battling cancer.

Just like meeting Eric and Gigi at Sunday School many years ago in Apex, North Carolina, God arranged for Eric and this man to bond in a crowded airport lounge. What were the chances of that? I love seeing God move in his people.

Let’s move spiritual mountains for Colonel Kail. Share this with others too.

Eric and Gigi

Eric and Gigi

Please pray specifically for the following:

– That scheduling for moving would fall into place
– That the nerve pain and limited mobility would not get any worse between now and beginning treatment
– That the MRI of his brain would show success of the procedure and no other tumors
– That there wouldn’t be any flare ups while in transit from NY to TX
– That he can physically able to do his retirement ceremony on 31 May

In addition, he has promised to commission FIVE cadets at West Point next weekend. He swore our son in last year and it was such a meaningful honor.

Let us pray without ceasing for this man who so freely gives to others. Bless you, Colonel Kail!

Here is the background story if you missed it.

Christmas ornaments for military moms – updated as of 12/16

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A group of West Point moms decided to do an ornament exchange this Christmas season. For a few months now, a special West Point moms facebook page has featured photos of ornaments received. Pangs of envy have pulsed through me as I observe the thought-fulness and creativity shared among friends. Mostly though, seeing pictures of the new foofaraw for the holidays is a blessing.  When I consider that many of these moms haven’t met each other in person, I’m deeply moved. These women simply share an unbreakable bond of being a military mom, specifically of the West Point/Army variety.

My intention is to update this post regularly and include as many of the ornament ideas as possible. Feel free to share this with your family and friends as a subtle hint that YOU want some new pretties for your tree. If you are a military parent, YOU deserve it! WE gotta represent!

I’m very fond of this one featured above, I just would need to change the last name so it’s my 2LT.

If you are a military mom, here’s an example of what one West Point mom did for another.

A WP mom created a collage of the ornaments she received from her Secret Elf.

A WP mom created a collage of the ornaments she received from her Secret Elf.

Foundations guardian angel of the military figurine from EnescoThen there’s this one a West Point mom ordered. The Guardian Angel of the Military is quite lovely!

Check out this onePersonalized Christmas Ornaments - American Flag Star - 11089

Another awesome one from Cafe Press, my cadet has worn that hat! Brings back a lot of memories…

This weekend, a group of West Point moms received a personalized ornament created by Megan at Pages. Here is the site. She has all kind of custom ones, but knows which ones made for the West Point moms. She also has custom military event paper that she will customize further for your Cadet and Year.

An adorable glass cadet ornament would look so pretty sparkling next to the lights on my tree. Here’s the link. (Update, crud, it’s sold out but you DIY folks might be able to replicate).

Although this one is made in Taiwan, it’s still lovely. Seriously, it won’t be the only non-US made ornament on your tree. For reals. Anyway, it’s embroidered which is different! Here’s the info

Continuing on the glass ornament theme, you might like these especially because of the unique way they are designed. The main image is on the INSIDE! The image is put on a clear backing which is almost invisible at first glance. The image is then placed inside the ornament and the outside is decorated with polka dots or other images.This gives the ornament a multi-dimensional look that really pops! The finishing touch is the addition of multi layers of korker ribbon to coordinate with your ornament choices.Click here for the talented lady’s website on etsy.

Floating American Flag Ornament - Personalized - Small

I thought Longaberger only made pretty baskets, I was wrong. I apologize! Check this out and note the special offer. Save $10! Veteran’s Day is Sunday, November 11th and these beautiful handcrafted ornaments are the perfect gift to honor our service men and women and you’ll receive them in time for Veteran’s Day! A perfect holiday gift at a perfect price — only $20 each! Available in Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Select a branch of service in the drop down menu to see each Ornament. A portion of the proceeds from each American Valor Ornament sold will go to the Longaberger Military Cares Program. You’ll also have the opportunity to make an additional donation to Military Cares at checkout. Longaberger’s Military Cares program combines the efforts of employees, sales field and customers to support America’s military troops and their families through numerous charitable programs and contributions. Click here for the deets. 
Offer good from 12 Noon EDT through 11:50 p.m. EDT (9 a.m. – 8:59 p.m. PDT) Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Price valid with online order only. Price does not include tax or shipping and handling.

Another WP mom didn’t wait for a Christmas tree to find a place for this ornament. How many of us have proudly displayed something like this in our homes year-round. Awaiting order info from a Secret Elf.

And when West Point moms get to-gether, it’s going to be a good time! There is an end-less supply of pride (the good kind) and stories!

We usually have our tiaras dis-cretely hidden but every now and then we gotta flash the bling. Such a fun bunch of ladies!

Check out this site for ordering info for this ornament because it’s pretty wonderful! American Hero ornaments deserve a significant place on our trees.

Once a West Point mom, always a WP mom. I have great admiration for the women standing alongside their cadets and Soldiers. There is an immensely talented WP mom who makes her own miniature watercolor paintings as ornaments. The ornaments are $18 each which includes S&H; contact at jacruick@yahoo.com to order!

A little watercolor painting as an ornament, what a treasure!

Elegant and lovely!

As the West Point ornament exchange 2012 winds down, I still learned of some great ideas.

Beautiful colors and detail

Beautiful colors and detail

This cross ornament can be found here.

My Soldier jumped out of airplane this week, maybe I need one of these?

My Soldier jumped out of airplane this week, maybe I need one of these?

If you have a military person in aviation, a West Point mom dis-covered this perfect gift for the tree! Click here for the link. Mine will be jumping out of helicopter soon so this might get on my shopping list.

And then there’s this one. I’m super excited to give this to my favorite Soldier and Scrabble buddy. This is a common Army exclamation. The creator of these ornaments appreciates the military and in an upcoming post I’m going to offer a give-away thanks to her generosity! You can find Lilly on facebook or on her etsy site. She can do any up to 9 letter word, btw.

If you are an Army person, you know what Hooah means! I can’t explain it, it’s a word and a feeling!

This is my ornament positioned right by a picture of the Hubs and I on our honeymoon in Spain.

This is my ornament positioned right by a picture of the Hubs and I on our honeymoon in Spain.

Please send me your pictures and links and I’ll post them here. Go Army!

When writers are moms – two fancy girls

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Check it out at momsguidetosurviving.com!

People with vision and dreams have my great admiration. I have many aspirations but feel that I miss many opportunities. I will now pause to feel badly about myself…just a sec….

Ok, all better! (sorta). When I align myself with the focussed and driven, that’s when I get inspired. Lisa Browne Joiner is someone whom I enjoy very much. She became a published author this year when she and her West Point buddy Deborah L.W. Roszel did something extraordinary in my book. They wrote a book! It’s called The Mom’s Guide to Surviving West Point.

Pretty awesome, Lisa and Debbie had a book signing at West Point!

I recently asked Lisa some questions to glean wisdom should I ever make this dream happen personally. In some very small measure, I was able to be a part of this book because I was a guest author for Chapter 26 “More than a Boo-Boo – when cadets need more than a sick call.” I shall now pause again to give you time to reflect upon my greatness…Ahem, allow me now also a moment to thank my son, Nate for tearing his ACL while at West Point for the second time in five years. Without you, Nate, it wouldn’t be possible, thanks so much Sugar Boy. Mama loves you. ❤

The only thing I wish is that Lisa and Debbie would have published this book when Nate was a new cadet and we were just starting at West Point. I would have been the first one in line and acted like a human barnacle to those ladies so it’s probably a good thing for them that it wasn’t possible. I was so desperate for understanding and reassurance. These ladies have other plans for their writing and I’m privileged to know them.

Ok, so now back to Lisa –

What made you write this book? The facebook group had been going for about 2.5-3 years…one day someone posted “someone ought to write this stuff down!” and I thought, “Yeah, someone should…hey! I could.” So I did.
How long did it take? About a year.
Why do you think no one else has written something like this before? No idea! We were the first group to really get the moms connected and talking. Prior to WP moms on facebook, the moms didn’t really have relationships outside of parent clubs.
What did you learn in the process? I learned that even though I am capable of writing a grammatically correct sentence on the first try, it isn’t necessarily a good sentence. Also, you don’t have to share everything you know. Some information is best discovered on your own…some info was left out of the book as it would cause hard feelings.
What did your son say about you writing a book? He has been very supportive from the get go.
How did you pick your co-author? I knew Debbie from our parent club. We got to know each other in fb chats. She mentioned she liked to write. We planned a beach trip and decided we’d give it a whirl and see how it went.

Lisa and Debbie

What’s next? Debbie is working on a devotional book and a children’s book. I have a few children’s book ideas. The next collaboration book will take some research, so we’re taking a breather before jumping in. The next book is The Mom’s Guide to Surviving the Naval Academy. Estimating 2 years down the road.
What kind of feedback have you received about the book? Only positive. It’s making us so happy to see so many moms say we’ve helped.
Coolest part of the process? From the get go, we felt this was a God press. I’ve always heard you know it’s time to write a book when you cannot NOT write the book…and this book basically wrote itself. We just did the editing.
Advice for moms with hopes and dreams? You don’t know what you can do til you try! Go for it!
Advice for writers who feel like they have something to share but don’t know how? You have to sit down and write. There were times I was so frustrated that we weren’t done yet…then I realized sometimes I went days and weeks without writing a word. You have to write regularly to get anything accomplished.
Who has helped you along the way? Angele and Deb were the biggest help…and the moms on the fb page who told us what they wanted to know about.
What would you do differently? In hindsight, I kind of wish we’d written a book that had each chapter by a different author/mom. That might have been cool.
Any plans for regular updates? A blog? Speaking? I would love to do speaking…would love to travel to parents’ clubs and speak to new moms who are scared…but the moms that are there know as much as I do! Debbie and I just wrote it all down.

If you are a West Point mom and don’t know about this book, I highly recommend it. Congratulations to these fine ladies for persevering and helping moms on the Long Grey Line. Click here to learn more about The Mom’s Guide to Surviving West Point.

Sorting and savoring, two graduations, 10 days apart

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Stand up and take a bow. Curtain closes on another chapter.

It’s that let-down feeling you have after everything is said and done.

Your busy plans are complete,

bags are emptied,

things are sort of back in place

and despite a moment of rest,

you are still utterly exhausted and drained.

Your company has left and life is back to normal – that is until your husband has meniscus surgery this Wednesday.

And looking at you and your sassy pink-haired self, no one would know all that’s been going on because you appear to be coping.

But the fact is you are struggling and you (in this case me) wrestle with conflicting emotions.

Clear as mud, huh?

Without getting too personal because blogs like that make me uncomfortable, this is how I’m feeling.

In some strange way, it seems as if nothing happened because so much happened and it’s just too hard to process. It’s postpartum depression minus the baby. I scarce can take it all in.

Two graduations in nine days in two different states is not for the faint of heart.

Of all the stressful things I have done in my life, having those two events so close to each other is wayyyy high up there on the things I wouldn’t choose to repeat.

Both moments were so significant and emotional, there wasn’t time to absorb one without quickly being distracted by the other.

As a result, I’m stunned.

What did we just do?

Where did we just go and come back from (and I don’t even care about the questionable grammar)?

How much money did we spend?

Why am I both full of emotion yet in empty despair?

The denouement of Aaron’s high school graduation and Nate’s graduation from the United States Military Academy needed their own proper time. Kind of like my arthritic right knee, there wasn’t and isn’t any cushion.

After a graduation celebration with some of Nate’s friends and their families, the Hubs and I were driving on Bear Mountain Bridge.

Nate and I after the graduation parade. I really loved that shining brass buckle. Very shiny.

Our tummies were full of delicious food from Foodies and it was early evening.

The United States Military Academy, an outline of the stately concrete structures were off in the distance.

The view called out to my mama’s heart.

Amber lights sparkled from the windows, the Hudson River sat tranquil and tears streamed from my eyes.

Tears are currently streaming from my eyes as I type this, thank you very much.

Cadets are still in these rooms, I thought to myself.

They are busy doing things, I mused, but strangely, my boy is no longer there.

How could that be???  His (and thusly my) 47 month journey had ended just hours before and everyone had seemingly moved on.

Ring Weekend was such a beautiful night! Now it’s all done!

Nate was ready.

I guess I was not.

As the Hubs kept his eyes on the road, I couldn’t help but reach out and grab that little West Point with my fingers.

Between my thumb and my pointer finger, I held West Point there as long as I could before we passed it by.

I can never grasp what this place has meant to my OS or to me.

I can find reasons to return to West Point but none will be for my boy as a plebe, yuk, cow or firstie.

The pangs of this reality sting and confuse.

He loved that place.

He hated it.

It was so far away.

I loved coming there.

What tumult of spirit!

No sooner had Nate graduated from USMA, then he bolted from Michie Stadium along with nearly 1000 other newly commissioned officers and finished turning in all their stuff.

There wasn’t any sentiment in the departure and it reminded me of the 90 second goodbye we had been issued on R-Day, that never to be forgotten day.

No built-in cushion there that’s for sure.

Pride, humility, loss, gain, and so much more jumble inside.

I expect to be working through these experiences and emotions for quite some time because that’s what a mama does, right?

My boy, that uniform, what memories

I’d love to hear from you if you can relate. West Point mom or not, you might empathize. Thanks for listening…

My boy, that uniform, what memories