Living

Sometimes, a girl needs her Dad

There are many things I like about the military. Then again, it certainly has its fair share of cons. But by far, one of the best things that the Canadian Forces offers is an environment that is just like a family who understands you. From day one, basic training puts you in an environment in which it is vital that you make bonds in order to survive. I say survive jokingly, although sometimes I still wonder if I made it out intact (my knee often begs to differ). However, my harrowing basic training stories will have to wait until another post! Ha. Regardless, you form connections because you have experienced these intense three months with the same people 24 hours a day. I had just finished high school and for the first time, went to a civilian school instead of one on the base. This meant that I actually had the same friends for a whole four years. No one moved and I did not move away from them. But once I finished my training, I came home to a bunch of people who no longer understood me. I mean come on! I had just spent the summer learning to be an A-type personality, bossing people around, giving orders, and I was going to travel the world! I felt like no one back home could comprehend my new life and my new motivations. I’ve lost touch with a lot of people from high school but still get together with plenty of those basic training buds! Since Ben left for Afghanistan, I’ve realized that now, more than ever, I need friends and family around me. I have a bunch of friends who check in regularly to make sure I’m still kickin’ and even Ben’s unit calls to check in once in a while. Immediately after he left, my parents came up to visit for a few days, and then again, during the whole basement fiasco, my dad came up for a week. All in all, I’ve been extremely lucky to have wonderful, caring people in my life who understand. But no one quite understands like my Dad, Bill, who served in the Army (we won’t hold that against him, ha) for an impressive and distinguished 35 years. We are a family of military service, going back about 4 generations on my dad’s side and an equally impressive line on my mother’s side of the family. My grandfather was a machine gunner in the Korean war, my other grandfather was a sailor in WWII, and my Dad served in the Golan during what was a very scary time to be there. But Dad was the officer I continually strive to model myself after…smart, caring, hardworking, and always willing to listen to the opinions of others. I’m teary as I write this (not a shocker for me lately) because Dad spent a LOT of time away when we were growing up in CFB Borden ON and often, it was hard for us to understand why he couldn’t be with us all the time. One day, at approximately the ripe old age of eight, I asked him. He said, “Moo,” (an interesting nickname I’ve acquired from my family over the years…I have no idea how) “Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for those who aren’t able to fight for themselves.” I remember this clearly because at age eight, I kept a journal and I scribbled this down, rereading it for the first time last month. At the time, I was satisfied with the answer and never complained about it again. Now, more than ever, I understand my Dad’s words. During his visit immediately after Ben’s departure, he provided me with some more insight. “Moo,” he said, in the most lovely familiar way. “I know it’s tough right now, but remember the big picture. Remember why it’s happening. Always remember the big picture.” It was simple, followed by an awkward pat on my back as he got up to fix my drain (I love your handy-man skills too Dad) but he needed to say no more. Dad is right. There is always a big picture and lately, in my own misery, I find I forgot it. I forget the reason so many of our troops have been sent to Afghanistan. Regardless of your opinion on the war, and it has been my experience that everyone has an opinion, I like to think we’re there because there are people who need our help. And it makes me proud of Ben to know he’s there, along with the rest of our troops, showing the world that Canada wants to protect those who need protecting. I’m also proud of the troops at home because they are working just as hard as those overseas, ensuring Canada is safe. I also admire the wives and the husbands and the families. Because when you marry or are born into a service family, you too are signing up for the life, whether you like it or not. Yes, today I am less sad because I’ve been reminded of the big picture and how ultimately, the sacrifice will make a difference. Thanks for the reminder Dad. You’re still the officer I want to be. Kelly
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