A long time ago before my work with ICE Resin and Susan, I was a magazine writer/editor and paper artist. I started my first WordPress blog in 2006. It truly was an online diary, and I was always surprised when anyone other than family read it. I gave it the catchy name of Get Real Scrapbooking because I was on a crazy quest at the time to get mothers to put photos of themselves in their family albums. This is wayyyyy before selfies. Almost every mom I knew went to crops with plastic bins stashed with family photos where they were nowhere to be found. (Remember when the photos were film that was developed at a photo center. Gasp!) Page after page was kiddo cuteness. How could a mother not love that face? Anyhoo…I digress…another story for another time perhaps.
Since today is Veteran’s Day, I remembered a post I wrote a long time ago when my now-teenage son was small regarding a trip to San Diego. I was determined to find it! When I closed down that blog, I made sure to import all the posts into a file. I spent 30 minutes today looking for what I wrote. After reading it again I decided to resurrect it in honor of all the United States Soldiers and Veterans who give/gave of themselves for our freedom.
***First published June 2007
The first day of summer break, we drove to California for a family vacation. We traded our timeshare week for a stay at Gaslamp Plaza Suites Hotel, located smack in the heart of downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp quarter. My hubby worked remotely for the first two days, which left my son and me to figure out how to pass the time. Big things, like going to Sea World or the Wild Animal Park, were out of the question since Dad really wanted to do those as a family. I asked my son on Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day, what he wanted to do.
“I want to take a trolley ride, Mom.” I didn’t want to shell out $32/adult and $16/child to ride the tourist trolley that visited all the usual places. Instead, I thought it was time to teach my country boy about big city public transportation. It turned into an educational lesson where he figured out how to take the light rail’s Orange Line from Gaslamp Quarter to American Plaza so we could transfer to the Blue Line. Then to take the Blue Line to Old Town Station so we could catch the Green Line for Mission Valley Center. We also picked out other landmarks throughout the day so my son could learn how to navigate cross town busses.
He was unsure of himself at first, but soon got the hang of things. He quickly went from being a wide-eyed country boy looking for people to exchange smiles with to sitting stoically on the seat and keeping a bored expression on his face as he looked above, rather than at, his fellow passengers. At one point in the light rail ride, I told him to get up from the seats we were sitting on. He asked me why and I nodded my head in the direction of the man in a wheelchair who was coming aboard.
I explained it’s respectful for able-bodied people to give their seats to elderly or handicapped. The man thanked us as we moved diagonally from him. My son knew it was not polite to stare. He did, however, keep glancing at his legs or rather lack of legs, which were cut off above the knees.
“I bet you’re wondering why I don’t have any legs,” the man who looked to be in his 20s said, smiling at my son, who looked at me after the question was raised for visual clues as to how best to respond. I smiled at the man and then at my son and nodded to indicate it was safe to talk to him.
“I was wondering, but my mom would say it’s rude to ask.”
“Well, buddy, I’m a soldier. I lost my legs in Iraq,” the man said softly, looking straight into my son’s eyes.
My boy looked at him earnestly, a flicker of sadness crossing his young face. He looked at me and then looked back at the man. Then he said something that made my heart drop to my knees.
“I’m sorry you lost your legs, but thank you for fighting for our country.”
The soldier was so surprised by such an honest and heartfelt response from a child. His eyes grew wet and he blinked back tears. My eyes watered and I blinked back tears.
My heart filled with pride when I realized, yet again, what an extraordinary difference my son makes to my world.