Monday, May 30, 2011

Bootcamp Graduation

RembeRED prompt this week was to write about graduation.

The ending of a journey... graduation.  Some of these journeys are short and simple, others full of growth and span long lengths of time. As a mom I have experienced a few; preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, and military. I have had my own as well. Each a marked place in time, full of promise and hope ahead.
But there was a moment in one that took my breath away. That moment is photographed above.
Last summer my baby boy of 22 years old, Greg, had made a commitment and left for bootcamp. I remember the quiet ride home with his fiance, Samantha, his dad and myself. It is always hard letting go, and I had made this same trip a few years prior with my other son, who left for the Air Force. It is a mixture of emotions; sadness, pride and hope.
I remember that first call home, he sounded so scared, so worried...things had changed in his life since he signed on the dotted line. But he knew he had responsibilities, and he had to follow through.
So over the next months we mailed many cards and letters and ran for the mailbox to hear news from him. The letters always brought a smile. Samantha and I would share them with each other. Some weeks seemed to drag by slowly, like honey on the coldest winter day.
When we began to make the plans for the trip to his graduation, time suddenly buzzed with excitement. My oldest would meet us there with his family, and we would be meeting Samantha and her mother there as well. Reservations and flights were scheduled. I went in to prepare my classroom, because upon my return I would have my first day of teaching. The aniticipation continued to build.
My husband and I landed in Rockford, Chicago. The drive to the base was full of back country roads, rolling with hills and big fields. We called the other family on cell phones, everyone was headed to the same direction, coming from different spots on the map.
It was late when we arrived, and we all decided to meet in the morning. It was going to be early for the graduation, and we were to expect lines. Boys and girls from all over our country would be graduating that morning, and families were converging.
Early morning, sunshine just peeking up, we headed out to the parking lot to meet my oldest with his family. He stepped out in his uniform. The vision of him in uniform always makes my heart skip a beat. We have some quick greetings and hugs as we climb in the vehicles to caravan over.
As we arrive to the location we see the line starting to form and we pull in and join them. Identification ready, special pass on board...and yet as we pull up towards the gate we are pointed into a different direction from the line. My son behind us is sent in with the crowd. We are wondering and questioning in the car. A few young men in uniform ask us to get out of the car, open all doors, open the trunk and the hood and we are to stand seperate from the vehicle. We watch as they search our vehicle, not answering our quizzical looks. Later we can laugh, we were randomly selected as one of the vehicles to be inspected thoroughly.
Past the gate we meet up with all the family and wait in line some more. The expectation of the day continues to build as we look around, wondering where my baby is, how his life has been in the last couple months here. Ready for a hug. We find Samantha and her mom, she is shaken with elation, emotion to match mine.
Finally in the bleachers we take in the sights and sounds. Eyes on all the families, wondering about each of their stories.  We keep watch on all the setting up, watching the films of scenes from bootcamp days. The grandsons distract my attention some, lots of hugs and kisses, and listening to their stories of their road trip.
Finally...the drum begins the beat. The noise in the bleachers change. All eyes move to the door ahead. It is like an immense garage door. Around us men and woman stand at attention. The drum comes closer and closer. And suddenly, the door opens up and as it raises higher, we see the sight of their feet marching in precision to the beat. White legs emerge.Standing straight and tall, heads held high... there are our boysand girls! The lump in my chest moves to my throat. The tears that were hidden come from behind.  And as they march in with the sun behind them, you can feel all around me the pride and love we have for these young men and women. It is a moment when those doors open I could never explain. As I look forward I catch sight of my son. And I look beside me, my oldest at attention and saluting. Another amazing moment for a mom...
A beautiful ceremony continues and we swarm like bees when it is done. A sea of sailors to swim through to find the right one. But mine stands 6' 2" above the crowd. I wait as he greets his love first, and then it is Mom. My arms fold around my baby boy, now a man.


  1. I've always said it... you have such a gift... your biggest fan (your Mom) always bragged about it... you have a real and rare talent with words that paint a picture, and move the reader to feel. Am glad you are writing!!!

  2. That's the best "small moment" ever!


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