Four years last week, I witnessed my son Brandon complete the final evolution of his boot camp training and formally transition to a U.S. Navy Sailor. My motherly pride was on full display – the smiles, the tears, and more tears – and was the culmination of nine weeks of unanswered questions and a lack of control as to my son’s journey. Currently, you may be going through similar feelings as you wait for the first phone call or letter. I want to share one way I used to pass the time and create a sense of closeness to my son.
As a new Navy mom, nine weeks seemed like an eternity until I would see my son. I decided not to count down the long days, but instead, I celebrate each week by placing a U.S. flag in my flower bed. As my flag garden began to grow, it started to gather the attention of my neighbors, mailman, and Amazon delivery guys. I was filled with pride as I explained the reason behind why a new flag was appearing each week.
I looked forward to each Thursday, which was my designated day to plant the next flag. And with each flag, I knew I was one week closer to a hug from my son, a United States Navy Sailor. I shared my story with Brandon in my letters, “Well, son, I planted another flag today in my flowerbed.” And while he probably thought his Mom was overboard, I knew he felt a sense of closeness that only a mom and son could experience, even thousands of miles apart. A seemingly small gesture of patriotism helping me pass the time, but a silent prayer of motivation for my son to press forward.
On his completion of A-school after boot camp, he surprised me by arriving home three days early for leave. And with friends videoing him knocking at the front door with a dozen roses – they captured LOTS of tears on my side and smiles on his! At his welcome home party, the community let him know how they looked forward to his mom’s weekly flag letting them know he was one week closer to graduating!
I pray my story helps you find unique and personal ways to pass your own time. I encourage you to celebrate this time of growth and not absence. My son’s path through boot camp was the beginning of a much longer journey. And as time passes I find other ways to celebrate my son’s distance. Sometimes lighting a blue candle, other times answering questions on Facebook with those planting their first flag.
“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14