This is a letter I wrote to my son Austin while he was home on leave from the Army, before he was sent to Germany, next stop, Iraq. His coming home was a surprise, and I spent two weeks playing with my boys. Before I went to bed each night I wrote a little more of this letter. I could only write a little bit at a time because I would start crying. On his 21st birthday we took him to the airport. They let me accompany him through security and sit with him until it was time to board the plane. We didn’t talk much because I had tears streaming down my face. He was the last one to board the plane and that was when I handed him the letter. He looked at the envelope and said, “I can’t read this right now.” And I said, “I know. Read it when you are ready.” As he walked away from me, down the tunnel, he turned around and said, “I love you Ma!” To which I replied, “I love you too Austin!” I cried the whole way home. That’s my boy!
August 18, 2007
My Dear Austin,
Wow! This has been the fastest two weeks of my 43 years! I’m so proud of you, and so happy for you! Twenty one years ago this evening you came into my life. It has been twenty one years of laughter, tears, frustration, and joy. You’re my boy! I don’t care how old you get, you’ll always be my boy. Twenty one years later you’re leaving with the Army for Germany. You will have the time of your life! I’ll still worry about you, and that will never stop.
I remember when you were about two years old, we’d go to the grocery store and you’d ask for a “Boon Mommy, Boon!” I’d get you a balloon and a banana and you’d be happy. I remember how mad you were when we had Cameron. I think you’re still mad! Remember your Big Wheel? God, you loved that thing! Remember MeeMaw dunking you in the pool with your diaper on? You’d run around the pool back to her with the droopy wet diaper hitting the back of your legs. That was funny! I cried on your first day of school. I couldn’t believe six years had already gone by and now look, it’s been twenty one. Remember turning sixteen? Your brain fell out, but I’ve learned from having a second one turn sixteen that that must be a guy thing. You get a car, and in your case SEVERAL cars and your brain falls out. Don’t worry, you’ll find it again. Just stay away from cars! (And motorcycles.) My time with you went by too fast and I wish I could get some of it back. There are a few things I would have done differently. Please don’t make a hasty decision and get married over there!
I am so glad you chose the military for your career. I always knew I could raise you to be a gentleman, but I also knew I would not be able to raise you to be a man. The Army did that for me. You have changed so much in certain ways and not at all in others. I’m glad of that. You’re still the funny guy. (And my boy.) Don’t lose that!
As long as you remain in the military I want you to get as much education as you possibly can. It will raise your rank and pay faster than just hard work, and the best part is IT’S FREE! Take classes on other subjects so your education will be diversified and not limited. I do hope you make a career out of the Army. You can remain in for twenty or so years, retire and start another career. You’ll have the retirement pay from the Army, including all the benefits, start another career, retire from that, get all the benefits from that one and live high on the hog! I’m glad you enjoy it, because that is important. The rest of your life stands before you now. Make the most of it.
I’ll be brushing up on my German over the next year and a half so that when you get back from Iraq I will be on a plane to Germany. I’ll also be learning Italian because that was one country I didn’t get to see while we were there. I will worry about you in Iraq, but I will pray you make wise choices. I pray you come home alive and in one piece. Make wise decisions. Live your life to the fullest, but enjoy the hell out of it. Remember, live it with no regrets. That is the best advice I can give you. You only have this one day, this one chance, this one second. You are not guaranteed another. Think before you act or speak. Don’t make hasty decisions. You have this one life, don’t blow it.
You mean the world to me, I Love You! Have a blast!
This is my journey…