Tonight was something new for me and rather special. My political opponents might be a bit surprised, but tonight I had the privilege of dining with and then cheering as my 18-year-old godson went off to Marine boot camp.I will be glad for us all when the 13-week adventure is over, simply because recruits are incommunicado for the whole time, and I will miss his company. He was nervous, he was excited, but above all, he was ready.
Boot camp is just the first step on this young man’s well-thought-out journey to a place as a Marine Corps officer and very probably some sort of special ops. It is wonderful to know any child today who really knows what he wants to do and pursues it with gusto. College awaits him when he returns, then a career in the military. Living this close to Pendleton has helped me know and greatly admire the Marine Corps and, so, while raised an Air Force brat, I applaud his choices.
I will worry. I have lived as part of the military long enough to know that he will be in harm’s way long before he is ever assigned to a war zone. It’s part of the job description and, as my very pragmatic pilot father used to say, “That’s why the give us flight pay.” I will never whine, but I will absolutely fret. This task falls to us, his mom, his grandmother and his godmother, and we will be doing a thorough and continuous job of it.
As I comfort his mom, who is facing the empty-nest syndrome as well as the fact that her baby boy is being cloistered in boot camp, I find myself getting pretty verklempt, too. I will never forget that moment when my child was suddenly swallowed up by an entire new world in which I had no part. These are life’s rites of passage, but it is a cold realization that life is moving on, changing, doing what it is supposed to do. It is also what, since the beginning of time, has made women pace the widow’s walk, count the days, make unnecessary cookies and reach out with our hearts when no other connection is possible.
I do not mean to diminish those whose children are fighting somewhere truly dangerous, but rather I honor them. In this age of general self-absorption, seeing someone offer themselves up to be our true protectors, is nothing short of extraordinary.
My adorable godchild presented me with a scarf bearing the “EGA,” which I now know is the eagle, globe and anchor Marine emblem. I will tie it to my purse in hopes anyone will ask about it, to which I will proudly reply, “My godson is a Marine!”
Jean Gillette really does love a man in uniform. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org