The Guys, A Tattoo, and Goodbye


How cute are they?

Yesterday was the last day of Ross’s liberty. He will be taken to the airport, along with his entire division, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. They will take flights in many different directions to their various schools. Through Navy for Moms, I was able to meet a wonderful group of mothers with sons in Ross’s boot camp division. Boys he’d slept with, showered with, eaten with, run with, studied with, gotten in trouble with, marched with, and endured one of the most arduous and memorable experiences of his life with for the past two months. Sunday afternoon, we got them together at one of the hotels, threw them a party, and let them do something they’ve never done together before–play like kids. Remember Ross who didn’t really want to do anything all weekend? This was one thing he wanted to do.

Me, with “the moms” and our sons (plus a couple “pick ups” whose families weren’t there and had come with some of the boys for the day).

Altogether, I think there were at least nine of the boys from his division there, but it was a come-and-go affair and I never got a photo of everyone at once. I felt as if I knew all the boys from the letters and stories the moms had shared. Over the long weeks of boot camp, we exchanged letters and bits of news and reports from phone calls. I love each and every one of these ladies. It was wonderful to meet them in person.

And the guys? They had a BLAST. (And please note Ross’s adorable dimples in some of these photos. I told you he had dimples!!) There was Chicago-style pizza, hanging out, laughing, telling boot camp stories, and lots and lots of wild horsing around in the pool. After sharing one of life’s most intense experiences, they may never see each other again as they go their separate ways to their individual destinies, but for a few hours, they got to be “just friends” having fun.

This was the part where I said….. YOU HAVE A TATTOO?!


I could go on all day with photos of how much fun these boys had together. They have been under such a state of deprivation for the past two months. Most of them, like Ross, have wanted to do very little other than hang out in their hotel rooms this weekend. To watch them cut loose and play like kids was amazing. Thank you, thank you to the moms of Division 276 who made it happen.

Note that, being in public, they were all wearing regulation Navy attire, white t-shirts and PT shorts (as swim trunks).

At the end of the afternoon, their weekend of liberty was over and it was time to take them back to the base. It was heartbreaking. My big, competent, grown-up, graduated sailor who’d endured and surpassed every challenge broke down in tears as soon as we got in the car to drive to the base. He didn’t want the weekend to end. He didn’t want us to leave. He said, “I don’t want to go back.” He cried, we cried, and one of his contacts fell out to give us all a moment of panic-laughter-panic. (He’s not even supposed to be wearing contacts while he’s still at boot camp, but he begged me to bring them.) Then we all cried some more and he finally had to leave. We sat in the parking lot, watching him walk away. I had bought Morgan a sailor hat (the white dixie cup) at the NEX because she loved Ross’s hat so much and she sat in the back seat wearing her sailor hat and crying. Weston, who had done nothing but complain all weekend because we didn’t “do anything” said, “That was a really good weekend.” And then we had to give up and drive away because we couldn’t see him anymore.

As I set this post, it is very, very early Monday morning and we are in Lafayette, Indiana at the same hotel where we stayed on the way up, three hours south of Great Lakes. Today we will drive nine more hours to get home.

Clover and the chickens are waiting for me………


  1. skippymom says:

    Suzanne I can’t even imagine how hard it was to leave your son. I am sorry sweetheart, but he is doing so great. Just trust. He will be home soon.
    And you are so right – the dimples? Adorable!

  2. Kathy in KY says:

    I’m so happy that you got to meet the other mothers this weekend, as well as their boys. They look like they had such fun together, and really needed to let their (ever so short) hair down a bit after boot camp. I don’t have kids, so can say I’m unsure of how you feel letting him go, but know that it must be extremely difficult for you and your family. I’m glad you all had such a wonderful weekend with each other, and that we finally got to see Ross’s smile and dimples! Take care, and safe travels back to WV. Love and hugs from Fayette Co KY. :sheep:

  3. princessvanessa says:

    Funny thing, it had crossed my mind as to whether Ross might get a tattoo, now that he was in the army. I know my uncle Dick had gotten one when he was in the navy (a heart with pendant “MOM”). Then to read about how he’s had one for a year and a half. I see a few of the other sailors have tattoos, too. And one, in the pool with his back to the camera, has quite a “farmer’s tan”.
    Morgan and Wesley were right in there kicking it up. too.
    From what I hear, the hardest part of his training is boot camp. I’m sure it gets better from here on out.
    Have a good journey home.

  4. princessvanessa says:

    Accckkkk, not army, NAVY. Don’t know why I said army. Maybe thinking of my ex….who was army. Sorry.

  5. CATRAY44 says:

    Thank you for sharing such precious memories with us all.

  6. Johanna says:

    Looks like the perfect weekend to me. Glad you all got to share it.

  7. mamawolf says:

    Suzanne I totally understand the tears upon leaving Ross. When my sons graduated from basic (one month apart)the hardest thing I ever did was see them walk away to go to their next duty assignment. Hang in there, we are with you all the way. Have a blessed day and a safe journey back to WV. :wave:

  8. CindyP says:

    He does have the cutest smile with those dimples!

    What a great weekend you all had together! I’m glad you were able to share it with him…some of the guys didn’t have their families there, but you Navy “moms” took care of them! How great!

    Safe traveling today!

  9. Carmen C. says:

    Oh Suzanne, that brought tears to my eyes, what a wonderful time!!!!! In just 3 weeks I will be at Ft. Benning as my son graduates army BCT and I can’t imagine how hard the leaving part will be! Have a safe trip home.

  10. glenda says:

    Tell that boy he should smile more often!

    This is a weekend you all will remember forever.

    I am so glad you all could make it happen.

    You will need to take at least a day off when you get home and just collapse. But I bet you don’t!

  11. Cheryl says:

    Awww, Suzanne…so glad that you got to spend the weekend with Ross. I would have been crying too had I been him or you, but hopefully the time will pass quickly and he will be home before you know it! Hang in there! Ross, I’m proud of you!

  12. Katie says:

    May I just say, that I believe that Mom’s of military children are embraced in GOD’s arms…….tightly! Trust that he will be safe and watched over, and may GOD bless you and yours until he returns to you. I have a son with BIG dimples as well, they are gorgeous aren’t they? Hugs to Ewe………..

  13. Yankee Gal says:

    I’m so glad you and the kids had this weekend together with Ross. Driving away is always the worst isn’t it? But he’s in good hands and off and running with his new career in the Navy. Fantastic. So proud of him and your family.

  14. northcountrygirl says:

    AHHHH Mom! Bless his heart! Underneath that handsome, tough, Navey sailor beats the heart of a precious son. I’m sitting here in tears feeling for all of you. How very hard that must have been. At least you know he had a wonderful weekend. Yes, he’s even more handsome when he smiles. Take heart, Mom, he will go off now and serve his country with pride. And you will know that after all the years of toil, laughter, and tears, you have done a job WELL DONE. May God go with our Sailor and keep him safe wherever he goes.

  15. Glenie says:

    Glad Ya’ll enjoyed the weekend and the boys enjoyed it too.

  16. Kacey says:

    Ah, Suzanne, he’s just gotten so…big! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I’m glad you got to spend the weekend with him.

  17. Carol Langille says:

    Again with the tears here. And I’m at work and the emergency operator so I have to control this.
    I am so glad this was a good weekend. Those boys needed it and their mamas needed to see them be little boys having fun again. How handsome they all look….how pretty the tattoos!!! (just kidding…tattoos don’t bother me one way or another) And what lovely dimples Ross has. Morgan was holding her own in the midst of all those grown boys!!!
    I would still be sitting in that parking lot, Suzanne. Still crying. You are a brave Navy Mom. I’m proud of you!

  18. Bertie says:

    I laughted with you and I cried with you…..really! Please know that I share your joy and pride….and your sadness. I’m a mom, and I that says is all!

  19. Helen says:

    I am so glad you were able to attend graduation, especially after your mom’s death. I can’t imagine how tough it was leaving him, as I sobbed 22 miles on the way home after dropping our firstborn off at college football camp 6 years ago!

    I am also SO glad you have an online connection with the other moms 🙂

    Thanks to Al Gore for coming up with the internet.

    Cough, cough.


  20. Diane says:

    Thank you again for shareing this with us. Again you brought tears to my eyes reading your story. You write stright from a mothers heart. Your kids are blessed to have you.

  21. Angelia M says:

    Okay, sitting here with tears flowing down my face again 🙂

    I know it is hard. It will always be hard. But, it is a wonderful career that he chose. Good luck to him in A School.

    Have a safe trip the rest of the way home.

    Look forward to future stories.

    Thanks so much for all the pictures. Glad they had a great weekend!

  22. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    Those dimples are adorable! I’m crying because I’m already emotional about taking my son to first grade this morning and then I read how you had to let yours go and I’m a mess.

    But it make me smile to see Morgan in the middle of all them sailors! You go girl!!!!

    Hugs to you this morning. It has to hard to be so sad and so PROUD all at the same time!

  23. DragonLady says:

    I loved reading about Ross, the Navy and the wonderful time that everyone had together. Thank you for sharing. And might I add, Ross is one fine looking sailor! :yes:

  24. Sue Nugent says:

    :snuggle: Ross is so lucky to have a wonderful Mom who cares enough to plan and be a part of this for him. There are so many young folks today who join such groups just to have a family, and be a part of a group, that cares.You are both lucky to have each other and what seems to be a great family and life.May God watch over him and keep him safe till his return.

  25. Granny Sue says:

    I feel for you all. I’ve been down this same road many times with 4 sons in the military at one time or another. It never gets easier, and yet you could not be prouder of him. He’ll do well with the love and strong support of his family.

    As for the glasses–does the Navy call them BCGs too? (Birth Control Glasses–so unattractive that they actually repel the opposite sex!0

    Hugs to you all. You done good, and so will he.

  26. ladybird_1959 says:

    I’m so glad you all had a wonderful weekend. I should have known not to read this blog at work. When I read that Ross didn’t want to go back I started crying and now my makeup is a mess!

    It looks like everyone had a great time. I pray that God will watch over Ross as he continues his time in the Navy. I know you are proud of him and will be even more so in the years to come.

  27. Becky says:

    Okay, Suzanne, you’ve got me in tears this morning. I can only imagine the emotions you were and are ALL feeling. I only hope it gets better over time. And I’m hoping things will get better for Ross once he’s on his way to SC.
    By the way, where in SC will he be?
    And I hope you have a very safe trip back home!!!

  28. Tina says:

    Oh my, Suzanne. I certainly empathize with you this morning. Sounds like a very happy and wonderful weekend, and like another coommenter said: You will remember this weekend for the rest of your lives. How lucky Ross and the other boys are to have been blessed by a Mom-and Moms-like you!
    I know you’ll pull up your socks and get on with things in the meantime, and time will pass before you know it!

  29. marissa says:

    What a handsome group of men. I am honored to have them serving our country- SO PROUD! I hope they all get lots of chances to blow off steam and have some fun along the way.

  30. Kelly says:

    What a wonderful weekend – thanks for sharing! You have a beautiful family.

  31. Melinda says:

    Well, I cried too for you…….I was doing okay reading until you said Ross teared up……then the Mama in me cried right along with you!!
    Wonderful son you have there! I wish him a multitude of blessings.

    P.S. I love the tat

  32. The Retired One says:

    How wonderful and how touching at the same time….he loves his family and you love him so deeply…but that is what counts..he will carry you in his heart for the next assignment and you will have more tales to tell, I can’t wait…!!

  33. Kim Gibson says:

    He’ll be fine, really…. I say that crying as I remember my own time and my son’s and my husbands, and all the young sailors and Marines I have known. The keyboard is wet, but he will be okay. Love and right will sustain him. They will sustain you too. Love to you all.

  34. Nancy says:

    What a touching post! What a wonderful family you have! Don’t count on them never seeing each other again though…my son’s closest friend is a “stranger” he met in boot camp. They continually got sent to the same places, deployed on the same subs, never by choice but happy accident! He was from Texas, we’re from CT. Now they live and work together in Boston. They refer to each other as “hetero-sexual life partners”…makes their girlfriends just sigh and say “isn’t that the truth”! Best wishes and a safe trip home!

  35. trish robichaud says:

    you are a really great mother suzanne! my son jason left for bootcamp to the great lakes in dec of 06, the same day as my mothers funeral. my heart was broken twice that day. when it came time for his graduation, chicago was having one of the coldest winters on record, i live in florida. you cant even buy warm enough clothes here for a cold state such as i couldnt go. i have a nephew who lives near there so i wired him money to take my son out and show him a good time.he like your son chose to sit in the hotel room snd eat pizza, call every friend he ever had and just relax. he gets out this year and is coming home,and though he is a man now i still think of him as my little boy.

  36. Paulette says:

    I’ve been following Ross’ story and enjoyed and was touched by each post, but never commented. Read this today, and I have to comment…….what a truly special weekend!! It all looked great — and then to top it off with a party for the guys (and especially for those who didn’t have families there….) where they could just relax and and have fun, priceless! (Morgan can hang in there with the best of them!!) What a blessing to have found the Navy Moms group! I always enjoy your blog, for many reasons, but you share your life— the highs, the lows, the simple pleasures— beautifully. Thank you.

  37. Miss Becky says:

    what a great post Suzanne, a mix of joy and heartbreak with the goodbyes. goodbyes like that are heart-wrenching are they not? no time at all and he will be home on leave. well, it may seem like a long time, but it will only be a blink of an eye.

  38. vintagechicken says:

    Loved this post! I cried right along with you as I read it! You have an amazing family!
    You have done a wonderful job of raising a man, and someone I am very proud to have protecting our country!

    Safe travels!

  39. Luann says:

    Suzanne, Thankyou for sharing your weekend with us. The group of young men appear intelligent and fully capable to protect us, I am grateful for their service and to you Mom’s who have to let them go. I know it is hard but you have so much to be proud of, Ross’ dimples are adorable….just like your entire family! (2 legged and 4 legged, lol)

  40. Lori Skoog says:

    It appears that your weekend was beyond very special! I’m sure your son and his mates really appreciated what you and the Moms did for them. The tattoo story was sweet. Safe trip home!

  41. Rose H says:

    Sounds like that last few days have been a roller coaster ride for you all. Ross is certainly a handsome young man (and yes, love the dimples!) I’m certain that even though it’ll seem like an eternity until you see him again you’ll all keep a part of the last few days close to your heart to see you through.
    Thank you for sharing this proud and very emotional meeting with us.
    :hug: Rose

  42. Luann says:

    Welcome Home Suzanne, Morgan and Weston!

  43. Sandra says:

    I just have to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading all of this weekends events. I too am heading up there this week, as my son graduates this coming Friday. I have missed him so much, and can’t wait to see him, hug him, and hug him some more {:oD. Thank you so much for letting me live this past weekend with you.

  44. Roger Sanford, LCDR, USN Retired says:

    I left WV in 1968 for boot camp at GLakes as we call it in the Navy. I retired in 1997 after nearly 30 years. I would do it all over again. Be proud, he is doing something that not many volunteer to do. Tell him thanks from one Navy man to another for his service to his and our country. I was an enlisted man for over 12 years and a commissioned officer for over 17 years. The Navy was my life and I am a better person for having served.

  45. Nancy in Iowa says:

    No more boy – he really is a man now, even (especially) with the dimples! I can only imagine how hard it was for you to leave; his graduation from boot camp means so many things.

    What a great privilege for you moms to be able to get together with your sons. And Morgan looks like she’s right in her element!

  46. Amber says:

    He looks so happy! They all do. I bet boot camp makes one appreciate the simple things in life. :sheepjump:

  47. jane hill says:

    Suzanne, what a great weekend you had. Thanks for sharing a very private event with us. I’m so proud of all those guys and very thankful to them for serving for our country. The service will be a rewarding experience for them too. I’m a military wife, and the experience for us was wonderful! Hugs, Jane

  48. mary beth says:

    Great post, Suzanne. I can’t imagine how difficult this was or how very proud you must be!

  49. mommafox says:

    Suzanne, Thank You and the other Navy Moms for taking those extra boys/men under your wings for the week-end and providing them with some R&R before they venture off on a new chapter in their lives. As you are aware, there are many reasons why the parents couldn’t be there for their child’s momentous day. I’m sure they are very grateful to you and your family for giving your time and unconditional Love to all of them. Have a safe trip home. You have cookies to bake. :chef: :chef: :chef:

  50. Debbie Miller says:

    I am trying to wipe the tears away and type this quick “Thank You”
    It was a magnificant week-end and a “Happy Sunday celebration!”
    I can’t wait to hear more about all the journies, and , maybe have a “Navy Mom” week-end together!
    Hugs from South Florida!

  51. kerri says:

    Suzanne, thanks for sharing this precious and emotional time with us. The party sounds like a wonderful culmination of a very special weekend and your photos are a treat to see – all those handsome, smiling faces..the proud moms…and Morgan, having such fun with her brothers and the other young men 🙂
    May God go with these young sailors and keep them safe as they serve their country. We are all so proud of them…and their families. Hugs to you :hug:

  52. Joni says:

    OH, I have been away from blogdom, but I see I have missed so much! Your son, may I say, is ADORABLE…and he will, I’m sure, break many hearts! Let me say too that I am SO PROUD of young men like him and great moms like you who do so much and give up so much to make sure we are safe here at home. What a wonderful idea for this weekend of fun and pizza for the guys….swimming and being carefree once more!

    I love that he wanted to stay with you and didn’t want his weekend to end. It must have been the hardest thing in the world to turn around and drive away.

    But, how proud you must all be!

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