Getting letters at home

Published 4:24 am Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Aidan, that beautiful brown-eyed boy that I first laid eyes on 19 years ago, was very excited to start on a new adventure in the armed forces. He has dreamed and talked about this for so many years that it is hard to remember when his almost obsession with all things military began.

At first I thought it was probably a phase that he would outgrow along with the other ones that had come before. But with each passing year his mother and I came to realize that this was more than just the musings of a young man enamored by romantic notions of glory. Aidan joined ROTC and learned more about the reality of a career in the Navy, specifically.

The more Aidan learned about the military the more he wanted to learn. He began to take physical fitness and healthy eating to a whole new level, and before I knew it his baby fat had transformed into muscle. He joined the wrestling team at his high school, and worked diligently to maximize his skills.

Too soon, it seemed graduation rolled around. Instead of joining his girlfriend at college it was off to Navy boot camp. Aidan’s mother has been waiting somewhat impatiently for his first letter home, and just received it today. Now we can flood him with well wishes and news of the family in hopes that it will make him feel more connected to home.

My dad was a Marine, and we talked of many things over the years. I never got around to asking him about his experiences at boot camp, though. He did share some not so pleasant memories from his days in World War II, which certainly gave me pause that my eldest grandson had also chosen to serve his country in this way.

Of course, as a grandmother it took a little time for me to get used to the fact that my grandson could at some point risk his life in the line of duty. That is part of the sacrifice that men and women recognize when they sign up to serve in this way, and I have nothing but respect for all who chose this unselfish pursuit. Still, I remain positive and pray that my grandson will serve his country proudly without any adverse effects to his well-being.

On Sept. 13, Mike and I are making plans to fly to Great Lakes, Illinois to celebrate the first leg of Aidan’s new journey. I wonder if my sweet grandson will look different when I see him? I hope that he will always have that twinkle in his eyes and mischievous grin that I so love. I’m sure that he will be the same loving grandson that he has always been, but I do think he will be different. I imagine that when I look deep into his eyes instead of the boy that left home a few weeks ago I will see a man.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at