Thanksgiving with a Soldier

Spencer FamilyThis is not your typical holiday greeting or a link to an online card. Rather it is a heartfelt “Happy Thanksgiving” from our WHOLE family. We are here in St. Robert, Missouri to visit with Michelle for a couple of days. We pray that all of you are enjoying your family gatherings and blessings of just being together, let alone the bonuses of yummy seasonal feasts : )
Yes, this was the first and only time she has seen us since July 1st. NO, she did not get to graduate. We just attended the graduation of most of her company because she wanted us to meet a lot of them, the sergeant’s and other cadre. Plus, we were able to learn a LOT about the daily basic training and see some of the drilling in action.

Michelle was granted an overnight pass off base which is unusual for non-grads, but the Sergeants ALL are very impressed with her. You see, she is top-notch, but cannot graduate until she is healed enough to march and run 15k. The most she was able to do before the hip stress fracture was 8k, and then they shut her down for fear of the fracture breaking on through. She sure knows her stuff and she’s very good at communicating that to others; civilians or newbies or being quizzed by the brass to explain to other groups.

We are so very PROUD. She is meeting with the adversity of an uncertain future and limitations that she has no control over quite well. She is a bit bothered by the way that medical holdovers on profile (physical limitations) are treated by the rest of the troop as a whole. There ARE fakers and wimps who pretend to be injured, and then there are the legit. We met a young specialist (like corporal) who is gonna have back surgery in January. But it’s those that are assigned to crutches that basically don’t USE them that gives everyone a bad rep.

After completing 2 cycles now, she is respected by most everyone. But it is the army way to shun the injured to encourage quick healing and compliance.

So with her off base overnight pass, she was able to come back to the hotel with us, eat PIZZA and then we went out to a movie. “BOLT” is a new computer animated movie about a dog that our family wanted to see. It was either that, or the new James Bond movie. The dog in the movie and his relationship with the girl made Michelle really miss being home with Spirit. But it has LOTS of funny lines and happenings in the movie, not to mention the different animation styles. So we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then, there was the Scrabble game and LOTS of good conversation, and popcorn and junk food. Then she shared the bed with me. Then in the morning, decadence of all time, Krispy Cream Donughts! We’re talking lemon cream and raspberry jam filled deliciousness. That and milk was it prior to the Family Thanksgiving Dinner Event put on by the company on base at 1pm. That food was delicious. And the best part was that there was no cooking and cleaning on my part. LOL. Seriously, it was surprisingly tasty and there were an abundance of things I never even got to on the side bar.

Turkey, Ham and Beef, Mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, StoveTop OR Bread stuffing, peas and mushrooms, corn, shrimp cocktail, pumpkin pie, cheese cake, rolls, and more and more that we didn’t even go to look at. They charged only $6.15 for Steve and me, and Michelle just checked in. A few of the mess hall employees pulled me aside and said things like “we’re not supposed to develop close relationships with the privates, but Spencer is special,” and “She’s a good one,” and “we all like your daughter a lot around here.” The one lady (has Michelle’s number memorized) wanted a photo of all three of us together. And Michelle asked for one with her and the lady together.

There were a few tears shared between us. During graduation, when the graduates are repeating the Soldiers Creed as one, was very emotional for Michelle and I. Knowing that she has to sit there while they move on. I am sure it was even more emotional for her when her first cycle graduated. The ones in which she really bonded as they broke in together.

The best tears/conversations between her and I came when I spoke with her about how proud we are of her. She and I have a SPECIAL bond. Not just parent and child. Not even as a just good friends. She is not just my offspring, but a Sister in Christ. That is an everlasting bond despite physical place, time or even death. There is great security and thanksgiving in that respect.

But the one thing that we share that no one else can understand to the degree in which I do is : the incredible pain that comes along with having your plans dashed by an unexpected, bodily, limitation in which you have NO control. Physical pain is rough enough, but the emotional pain SUCKS! Now What?

One of the greatest things that I am thankful for in regard to Michelle’s situation is that she has a very strong faith. She is tough in dealing with the pain. Sucks it up nicely. BUT she is smart about not doing more damage or ignore that a problem really exists. Finding that balance is a hard, but very important skill.

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Current plans are for Steve and I to drive back out to Ft. Leonard Wood mid-December, spend a night, see a couple more museum places and then home for the holidays.

Right now, we believe that Michelle will have to report back to Ft. Leonard Wood at the first of the year and continue on’til they decide what to do next. She is due to get a promotion on January 1st, so that is at least something for her to look forward to.

Christmastime will also include a trip up to cousins and grandparents up in Northern Indiana at some point. Less presents this year due to economy, but more family valuing.

We have many, many things that we are thankful for at this time of year. You, our Dearly Beloved friends and family are chief among those blessings.

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