The Afghan summer, with average daily temperatures of 115 degrees, has ended and the extreme cold of winter replaces the heat. It was hard to imagine what those hot summer days were like for my son, Josh, who has been deployed in Afghanistan since earlier this year.
He described long days out on missions, vehicles stocked with cases of cold water bottles that, within a couple of hours, became hot water bottles.
Chef Boyardee pop top cans of raviolis were favored food items; he would pop the top, set the can on the hood of his vehicle, and within ten minutes it was steaming hot.
Josh posted pictures on Facebook and in one photo he is riding a bicycle with Afghan children surrounding him; I wondered what in the world is he doing.
I emailed him to inquire about the picture and asked him to share his normal day.
Most days we go on patrol with our Afghan soldier counterparts and do walk-throughs of villages: check on security, do well projects, and stuff like that. We help them provide security so money can be pumped into the area for wells, schools, and clinics. Without adequate security the Taliban would just come in and take it. Anytime we walk through a village we have an entourage of children following us. In the bicycle picture I traded one of the kids a bottle of Gatorade to ride his bike down the road, just for something fun to do. We go to a lot of places to meet with the village elders and they offer us tea, grapes, and watermelon, so we take a break and talk with them for a while.
Obviously, they do other missions which he cannot share, but it’s nice to see him having a fun moment with the local children.
Every time I talk to my son I ask him, “How are you—really?” And each time he answers, “I’m doing good Mom.” I know that he tells me that whether it is true or not, it is his way of protecting me. There are just some things the mother of a soldier doesn’t need to know.