Why? Because I'm thinking that these will remain in cyberspace long after I'm gone - and maybe they'll help another Dad get through the days following the departure of his Son or Daughter to Great Lakes, IL. The experience has been 'different', but manageable. I'll not post my son's letters home since they are HIS to share if he wants to in the future. I'm done making decisions for my boy as my boy is racing head-long to becoming a man.
I hope the series of 'Dear Jon' letters will provide you with some support, from someone who is living the magic first-hand. Trust in you children - they'll more often than not surprise you (typically, in a 'good' way).
Mike (a.k.a.: Dad, or in some places, 'Moos')
January 25, 2011
Mom told me that she’s already sent you some letters over the past week or so. I’ve been holding off writing because, like you in your ‘Form Letter’, I didn’t know exactly what to say.
Well, here’s the news from home:
a. It’s cold. It’s really cold. Yesterday morning on the way to work the guy on the radio said it was -10 degrees with a wind chill of -20. Sandy and Kelly (you know, 'the dogs') have figured out that when it’s THIS cold that you don’t run outside and bark in all directions at once hoping to find something to bark AT. Door slides open, they run out, sit down (well, you know) and come back without me having to yell ‘Cheese Cake’ at them. They are smarter than I have given them credit for being all these years.
b. Sandy keeps looking for you. I put the jeans you wore to Great Lakes onto your bed next to hers and I find her lying by them from time to time. For the first week after you left she slept in the living room on the love seat. I think she was waiting for you to come home at night. She sleeps in my room during the week when Mom’s in Syracuse now, though. She’s a good dog, but she’s a bit ‘lost’ right now. When Tim and I were on the Boy Scout camp-out last weekend Mom said she walked around the house whining all night. Your leaving was bad, but Tim and I being gone too almost gave the Woobie Dog a stroke. She’s fine now, we were only gone for an over-night trip (it was 2 degrees when the sun went down).
c. You still have two fish. One fish, two fish, clown fish, goo-bbie fish are doing well. The ultra-violet filter thinga-ma-whats had a hose come apart when Ben was still home for the Christmas break and he put it back together again. We heard noise, we saw bubbles, he fixed something (you’d better hope he comes home from college before it happens again, cause I’m not sure what he did.) The bottom line is that they’re doing well (although that green slimy-wavy looking stuff is coming back again on the top rock). When it’s above 10 degrees again I’ll take the rocks outside and hit ‘em with a garden hose (that’s how Dad’s fix stuff).
d. The washing machine ‘agitator’ broke down two weeks ago. I was going to call Sears to request that a guy with a gray official-looking Sears Repair Man suit on show up to fix it ($129 PLUS parts), but I went online instead. I found out that the repair is ‘common’ and got the part numbers from the site I tripped across. I bought the parts, came home in my suit at lunch-time and fixed it myself (it took about 30 minutes since I didn’t actually know what I was doing). Total cost: $ 5.28.
e. I’m sure glad that Al Gore created that Internet thing…
f. I finally stripped your bed and washed your sheets on Sunday. I guess I realized that you won’t be coming home any time soon. I’ll tackle the clothes you left all over the bed downstairs this weekend (WHY did you do this?) when I’m NOT camping, traveling, chasing after dogs or buying groceries.
g. Since I wanted to have something visible to remember you by, I moved the big, honking, old, blurry, Sony TV downstairs, moved the entertainment center out, chunked it in and lifted it all back in place again. YOUR HD, super-cool, fuel-injected TV is now in the entertainment center upstairs. Someone told me once that TV’s MUST be used to extend their life (although I may have dreamed this). I didn’t want to run the risk of having your TV go bad from lack of use downstairs in the dark, dank nether-regions of the house. Your TV is fine, although I wish you bought a 32’ as there is still space to fill up in the entertainment center. Next time, please buy a LARGER TV that I can steal to use while you’re away. It’s really nice! Thanks!
Bottom line is that you are missed every day you’re away. For the first couple of weeks you’re gone I woke up a lot at night. First I blamed it on the ‘little dog’ walking around the house, the heater going on, or the plow trucks running up and down the hill pushing snow off the road. Then I realized that when I woke up I was thinking about you, boot camp, the Navy, etc.. I’d have a little chat with God and at some point I’d fall back to sleep again – for a while, at least.
I’ve told you that I’m very proud of you – just so you know, I meant it then, I mean it now. It takes guts to do what you’re doing. I respect the heck out of you for the commitment you’ve made to yourself, your country, and to your ship mates up there at Great Lakes. I imagine that some days will be better than others, but I know that you’ve worked hard to get where you are, you can see it through to graduation and beyond.
I have faith in you. Keep faith in yourself, your family, and the guys you’re in Boot Camp with. They’re part of your extended family now.
I miss you more than words can express Kidd-o. Take care of yourself, take care of your ship mates, and I’ll take care of stuff around here. I’ve got your back (wherever your back happens to be).