Thank you Mom.
I was 19 years old when I shipped out to Boot Camp in Texas.
And do you know what was the one thing I didn’t anticipate happening?
I never realized how much I appreciated, valued and loved my mother until that time.
Like most of us do with the best things or people in our lives, I took her for granted.
I struggled early on in boot camp.
I was a punk kid who held a stoic exterior but inside was still a boy.
I never realized how much I appreciated my family until they were out of my life.
Do you know what got me through these tough times?
My mother and I would write to each other each and every day.
One letter a day for about 7 weeks of training.
Quick funny story:
So we were never allowed to or given time to send out our mail or letters. I don’t know why?
But one of my primary jobs was “laundry crew” aka doing the entire flight’s laundry.
And on my route to the laundry room I discovered a mail drop box.
So every night I would round up everyone’s letters to their loved ones and the next day on my route to laundry I would make a run for it and get out letters in the drop box.
At the time, It felt like the riskiness business because you get in trouble too many times you get sent back a week in training and that’s the last thing I wanted!
But early on in boot camp, I struggled. Adjusting was hard and my only sanity came in the form of every evening hearing the TI do mail call and say my name each and every night that I had received a letter.
Of course we weren’t given time to read them, again I don’t know why so after lights out, I’d grab my letters and run to the bathroom and read them.
A bit embarrassed to admit, but early on I would even cry a bit reading her letters. My mom who of course was struggling with her son being away, hearing his hardships, missing him was nothing but strong for me.
The adjustment was tough and there many times I doubted myself If I made the right decision.
A few weeks in, I remember asking her if she’d be able to fly down to make it to my graduation.
Something to help get me through, to look forward to at the end of this.
The next letter I received was a heartbreaking one.
“Honey, I’m so sorry but we can’t afford to fly down.”
I was upset but I understood.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later, in one of my letters, and I don’t know how I never asked my mom about this, but somehow, someway, she told me, her, my brother, sister and step dad would all be flying down to my graduation!
The love, strength and support she gave across those 7 weeks is what got me through.
Through those challenging times as I was being broken down, as my life had taken a new course.
My mom still has every single letter, and keeps them all in a zip lock bag by her bedside.
I recently asked her, “Mom do you still read those letters?”
She said “yes I do.”
I asked, “what do you think when you read them?”
She said, “that you are amazing and the love that it makes me feel. Makes me feel like the luckiest mother. You’re so strong not just physically but emotionally. I felt closest to you at that time.”
I asked, “why do you think that is?”
She replied, “there were so many emotions in your letters. You were very open about missing your family. How important we were to you. How much you learned from me in terms of humbleness and respect. And without you here it made me reflect on the importance of what we meant to each other. Hearing how you were meeting all your challenges. Exceeding and leading examples with your pt, the medals, achievements. Being able to succeed and push through while being home sick.”
She would go on, “It reminded me I did a great job raising you. I am a strong person who made a strong person and that I couldn’t be more proud of the both of us.”
And lastly say to me, “you know, I appreciated our bond more than ever. I sometimes overlooked that.”
Who could benefit from hearing how much you appreciate them today?
Who hasn’t heard or felt that from you in awhile?
Needs to hear how much you appreciate them?
Who or what do you take for granted, day to day?
The trap many of us fall into is we turn our appreciation into expectation.
When fulfillment is always the other way around (trade our expectations for appreciation).
So much of who I am is because of this woman.
And during one of the most challenging transitions of my life, she was an anchor. An anchor of love, support and strength.
Not because she had to, but because she wanted to.
Tell someone you appreciate them today. That you love them. And why.
We all need to hear it. And you may never know the power of giving that gift to someone and what it can do for them.