Before my kid was a soldier, it didn’t feel as real. They were faceless soldiers. It was easier that way. I didn’t have to think about the fact that soldiers have mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. They have feelings and loves and hurts and fears. They are humans. Here’s the story of one of them.
The kid in the front, that’s Matt. Even at this young age, he loved little plastic army men and setting them up in formation all through his sand box. He’d spend hours on his belly in the sand, making all the little boy action sounds, shouting orders, fearless.
The little boy grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. And his dream to be a soldier did not wane. He had soldiering qualities right from the start. No, he was not a fighter; rather, a lover! As a 7-year old hockey player, he would interrupt the game to help another mini who had fallen down! He had to be told again and again that he didn’t stop to help players who had fallen; it was part of the game! Others were frustrated at his goodwill; I was secretly so proud.
Matt continued to grow. And a very fine man he was.
He loved to be outside adventuring more than anything else.
He loved to cook. He loved his family. At only 16, he helped his Mom battle cancer. A few years later, he nearly lost his Dad in a brutal attack. Life was training him long before he signed up.
Matt loves his Mom. A lot. I have this theory. You can measure the strength of a man’s love by the love he has for his mother. He loves me big. He will love his country and you. Big.
When he was 8, he noticed a little booklet in Aunt Julia’s car, it was titled Avon. He pronounced it Ah-von and quickly figured out how to save the sixteen dollars he needed to buy his Mom the gold heart-shaped locket featured on the cover. On Christmas Eve, he took me alone to my room and presented the treasure that he had raked 40 bags of leaves to purchase! His eyes glistened with love and pride. It will always be Ah-von to me.
At 16, Matt spent a whole month’s pay check from his summer farm job to buy his Mom a special pendant to celebrate the end of chemo. The pendant was stamped with Mount Ararat sitting on dry land. It’s inscribed in Latin, Joy cometh after the rain!
Two summers later, he worked 60 hours a week on the farm and saved every penny to buy himself a new computer. A Mac! He was so proud. He was that kid who wasn’t allowed to have a cell phone until he was 16 so this was a BIG deal! I know, I was such a mean parent! A week later, at school, the Mac was taken by a teammate that Matt had offered a ride. It couldn’t be proven, but everyone knew. Matt was devastated. His response? Can we invite him to dinner?
When things really fell apart for our family, Matt was the glue.
The Fix-it Man.
The soldier that soldiered us on.
And he never lost his dream to become a soldier. Last year, his dream came true. Now he is stationed in New Brunswick ready to answer the call. My soldier with a face. Your soldier too.
I love him so dearly.
Canada!!! You have no idea how fortunate you are that Matt has your back! He is so proud to represent you. He is your soldier. And he will protect your freedom, no matter the sacrifice. He will do it proudly. And bravely. Because that’s the face of this soldier.
Thank you, my Matt. I love your beautiful face.