Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My John

 18th birthday, almost a year ago.
I folded a few of John's T shirts early this morning -- Joe Cool, Colonel Sanders, and Iron Man. He won't be needing them for two months because he left in the middle of the night for Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for basic training. I cried while folding of course. I'll add them to Rees' pile and hope he puts them away nicely for his brother. Both of the big boys and Ken don't really like it when I fold their clothes. Don't do that, Mom; we can. Don't do that, Honey; they should. And I know; I know. But folding clothes in the very early morning with a cup of (now) decaf is an odd pleasure of mine. It gets something tangible done while I'm able to think about whatever my mind wants. The only interruptions are from my own brain's thoughts flitting here and there and I like it.

About 18 months, always with Rees

This morning I thought about John. About how cute he was and how handsome he is. About how ready he is for this tough adventure and good plan. About how old and strong he looked last night saying goodbye to his little brothers and sisters and about how I noticed a flicker of nervousness while he explained to Ken about how the airport in San Antonio has an Air Force desk because there are so many recruits passing through and he'll just need to get to that desk and they'll put him on a bus.

When I hugged him goodbye, I told him that I wasn't worried about his "making it" ~ he's been itching to go since February ~ but that I would miss him terribly. We gave him a replica of a WW1 Rosary, the kind handed out to Catholics by the US government back then (Imagine that!), and the Combat Prayer Book, a tiny book, easily slipped into one of the many arm pockets. But not during boot camp, he tells me. That's OK. Someday he'll want it and he'll have it.

About 12; shot a grouse.
It's bearable because he'll be back in mid-July (Until they send him away again for Tech school, but I won't think about that yet.). Ken warns me that he will be changed when he returns. Just typing that sentence makes me drip tears on my keyboard. It's good, though. I'm happy for him. He needs to do something that is Just John. He has always been with Rees, making what breaks he could. Doesn't like hiking; doesn't like country music; doesn't like to read. I imagine they will miss each other terribly, anyway.

 He tells me to wait two weeks, then call a number on a paper he gave me (Good Lord, I'm awful about keeping track of papers.) and they will tell me where to send letters. He also tells me that he may not get to read them or write back if he gets in trouble. Lovely. So I will busy myself with writing to him and helping Clare pick out a Million Degrees Hot Texas wardrobe, for she and Ken will fly to San Antonio for his graduation. She's never been out of Alaska; never even been on an airplane. It's a trip of a lifetime and I will love picking out clothes with her!

So my John is gone. But he's all right. And I suppose I am.
St. Michael, the archangel, pray for him please.