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Posts tagged: Mothers and sons

Gone for a Soldier

    They stood on the corner downtown, a loose, silent group of young men. Most not more than boys, really. Each had a bag or duffle at their feet.
    

   I realized they were new recruits on their way to boot camp. To basic training. On their way to an adventure, on their way to the fast-track to maturity. On their way to a place and a future they couldn’t imagine. Gone, as the old folk song goes, for a soldier.
    

    The group paid no attention to me as I walked past. Most were lost in their own thoughts, staring down at their shoes, or at their fingernails. I wondered if they were still under the spell of tearful goodbyes; hugs from crying wives, mothers or girlfriends, awkward handshakes from fathers whose voices were gruff with unshed tears.
    

    It was all I could do to walk on by. I have a son just about their age. I worry about him all the time. When he’s traveling, I call, leaving nagging texts on his phone.
    

    “Where are you?” I write, or “You need to call me now.”
     

    When he’s in town, I cluck and flutter around him like a hen, asking questions and giving advice that is politely taken, but quickly tossed away.
    

    Those boys weren’t mine, but I could barely contain the urge to do the same for them.
    

    “Take care of yourself,” I wanted to say. “Be careful. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Call your mother.”
    

    I wanted to send them off with a blessing.
    

    What would they think, I wondered, if a woman – a woman old enough to be their mother - ran up to each one and, taking their head in her hands, kissed each cheek and told them she loved them? Because at that moment I did love them all. They would remember me I’m sure. From time to time they would talk about the crazy woman who kissed them the day they left. They would laugh about it, but they would never forget.
    

    I didn’t stop. My feet kept walking. They kept their eyes trained at the far edge of the horizon.
And we each kept our thoughts to ourselves.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

My Bunny is Back on the Ocean

Two years ago when my son took his first job on a restored 1949 oceanographic research vessel, I wrote the column below. He was to be the boat’s new engineer.  It was his first time at sea. And my first experience with sending a child out into an unknown frontier. It has been a learning experience for both of us. The boat, once host to people like Albert Einstein and Jacques Cousteau, has gone through many changes. Now, a work in progress, the skipper and his crew travel up and down the west coast from one charter to another. This month, they are heading back to Alaska to tender - in this case to take fish from the fishing boats, keeping them chillled in the huge tanks on board, and then deliver the load to the processing plants. It’s hard work.  And, it’s still hard work to say goodbye.
June 23, 2008

Home Planet: Children leave home but not our hearts

Cheryl-Anne Millsap
The Spokesman-Review
 

The chime signaling a text message woke me out of a sound sleep. My phone, lying on the bed beside me, there in case of emergency, in case someone needed to reach me, close at hand for late night messages, glowed in the dark room.

“Just left the locks,” the message read. “And hit open water.”

It was from my son.

I typed a short reply, part message part benediction, and rolled onto my back to stare at the ceiling.

I was alone in a hotel room, on a weekend tour through the Walla Walla wine country. At the same time my 20-year-old son was on a boat cruising toward Alaska. It was the first night of his new job, and at that moment he was alone in a tiny cabin, watching land and all that was solid and secure, slip away.

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About this blog

Cheryl-Anne Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement. Cheryl-Anne is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. She is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."

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