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He’s not our soldier. He’s our daddy

Submitted by on Sunday, 20 June 2010 2 Comments

“When fathers are not present, their children and families cope with an absence government cannot fill.” – President Barack Obama, Father’s Day proclamation.

If there’s one thing the Army does that scrapes fingernails down my mental chalkboard every time, it’s the stubborn insistence on referring to my husband as “my soldier.”

I’m not sure how the terminology came to be, but I can see where  it’s convenient. If the person is “your soldier,” you don’t have to worry about flubbing and saying “your wife” when the soldier is actually a husband or “your son” when you’re talking to a spouse.  In a day when there are almost as many possible scenarios as there are families, a sibling could be a next of kin. Just call them your “soldier” and you don’t have to worry about offending anyone.

For us, the “your soldier” label is the more accurate one in recent times. During the past 18 months, the family has been together for only five. Dad’s missed two Valentine’s Days, two Easters, two Mother’s Days and, yes, two Father’s Days. This week will mark the second year he’s been away on Boots’ birthday, and the boy is beginning to notice.

Ohhhhhhhhhh!‘ he moaned this week when he figured it out. “I’ll never get to hug Daddy on my birthday again.”

“Next year, babes. He should be back next year,” I replied, hedging because I don’t like to make promises that I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to keep.

We – or, at least, I – knew all of this was coming when we signed on and despite the separations I’m glad we did. The Army has helped Dad unearth talents that no one had discovered during 15 years of schooling. Through the military, he found a way to support his family when we no longer could rely on my income. And he discovered something he’s “bam good” at, as Big Guy would say.

Today, though we’re 7,600 miles apart, we celebrate that. We’ll hook up via Skype in a few hours, after Dad has relaxed at the weekly cigar club. Or maybe he’ll watch the World Cup in the crowded TV lounge.

Yes, at the moment calling him “our soldier”  is more accurate. However, his more important title, though the Army might disagree, is “Dad.”

Happy Father’s Day!

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Leslie K. said:

    I know, I know…I am getting used to calling Ryan ‘my soldier’ because no one thinks of an Auntie as anyone other than the lady that sends you a birthday card with a check once a year. I am not his mother, but I held him during his vacinations, nursed him through chicken pox (and 43 showings of Bambi) and made sure the Christmas picture was taken every year.

    He is so much more than just ‘a nephew’ – so he is, for now, “my” soldier.

    I miss him.

    Happy Father’s Day to YOU, to your boys and to Daddy….HOORAH (hicup and sob).

  • Debra said:

    That’s coz not everyone is lucky enough to have an auntie like you, Leslie! It just so happens that I do, so I know how to appreciate a good thing. Forty-three showings of Bambi? That’s rougher than the vaccinations.