Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Son Ahoy!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Those of you following the stories about my family life may remember how, back in March, I bid farewell to the Sailor, who was headed out for a seven and a half month deployment (formerly known as a cruise) in the Persian Gulf. Twelve days ago, he got home, along with over 300 other crew members of the USS Gonzalez. 


We didn't see him man the rails - he was working belowdeck.

The Smithie, Youngest and me waiting.


 
The Sailor's sisters and his lovely girlfriend, Veronique.







His work team won the Rocky Balboa Award (I swear I'm not making this up), given to the team with the best performance record within the division with the best performance record. The prize? FIRST OFF THE SHIP.





                                      
These two were VERY happy to see each other again.  There's more lettuce on the Sailor's chest now - he was awarded several commendations during the deployment. Not that I'm bragging. (I'm totally bragging.)             



                                      We have a family tradition of Silly Sibling photos. 

Because we're a media-savvy family, you can also read the Maine Millennial's column about our trip and the homecoming at the Portland Press Herald, and see Veronique and me interviewed by WVEC 13News Now:


 I'm the one with zero makeup and puffy eyes. I'm not a pretty crier, and BOY did I bawl like a little baby.

                                   Welcome home, Sailor!

63 comments:

  1. This is lovely, Julia. For your son: Welcome home and thank you for your service.

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  2. Your post and pictures made ME cry and it's only 5:30 in the morning! So glad he is home safely and reunited with you all. Where does he head next?

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    1. Two years of shore duty in Norfolk (unless he gets a TDY elsewhere.) I was dropping hints that it would be the perfect time to finish his degree... we'll see if he agrees with me :-)

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  3. Welcome home, Spencer, and thank you for your service! Happy holidays to the whole family, together at last.

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  4. This is so wonderful Julia! You and Ross raised the most interesting, smart, and funny kids. So glad he is safely home

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    1. Thanks, Roberta. Honestly, one of the reasons I enjoyed Bouchercon so much was because I knew he was home safe and sound!

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  5. Happy for your son's safe return Julia! The silly siblings photo did indeed induce a smile and chuckle. The Millenial's shirt made me smile too. Oh, and is this the first time I've realized that Youngest was a redhead? I think most if not all the pics you've posted here on the blog (that I've seen) she had her head covered. I loved her sign pic too.

    Nice to see that you are all back together (so to speak).

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  6. I love this SO MUCH!!! There will be nary a dry eye this morning among Red readers ... thanks Julia for sharing your wonderful family with us!!

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    1. You know, I swore I wasn't going to be one of THOSE mothers. and I swear, I started to tear up as soon as we reached the pier and I saw all the little kids in their best and cutest outfits. I cried off all my makeup before I even got to hug him!

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  7. I can't blame you for crying, Julia, since I was doing a little of the same thing. Such an emotional time for all.

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    1. There were a LOT of happy tears on the pier that morning!

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  8. How exciting to have your son home again! Welcome home, Sailor, and thank you for your service!

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    1. I can tell you, he's happy to be home, Mary. Seven and a half months sleeping in the middle bunk along a corridor of other bunk stacks. I suspect he may get a king-sized bed while at home to compensate.

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  9. Oh Julia, I'm so glad he is safely home. My father was USN Ret.

    "Eternal Father, strong to save,
    Whose arm does bind the restless wave,
    Who bids the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep;
    O hear us when we cry to Thee
    For those in peril on the sea."

    William Whiting, 1860

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    1. Interesting note (interesting to me, anyway): the Dallas Winds will be performing "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" on our November concert.

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    2. Love that hymn. It's also commonly played periodically in churches in Maine, where we still have a large contingent of men and women who make their living on the sea.

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    3. That hymn reduces me to tears every time. It was played at JFKs funeral.

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    4. I always cry when The Navel Hymn is played, can't sign a word of it.

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  10. Oh, my heart. That photo of you hugging your son, Julia. Sob. Congratulations to Spencer for his achievements! I know you are a proud mama. So lovely that the whole family could meet him together.

    I remember when my CPO uncle came home from nine months at sea, and I went with my aunt and cousins to meet him at the train station. My aunt and uncle, who had been together since high school, shared the steamiest kiss I had ever, or have ever seen outside of a movie screen. I was fourteen, and that kiss set impossibly high standards, as you can imagine.

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    1. A navy wife once said to me, "The reunions ALMOST make up for the time away."

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  11. What a joyous way to start our day! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

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    1. I'm delighted to share, Susan. Really, I've turned bragging about my kids into a social media art form. :-)

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  12. My brother did two Mediterranean tours, Julia, many many years ago--and I still get teary-eyed at the homecomings that people share. Yes, our eyes leak happiness and relief when they come home safe and sound. Loved all the photos!

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  13. What a happy — and teary — !start to my day, Julia. Happy Homecoming

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    1. It's been a good one, and I'm already looking forward to his long Christmas leave - home here in Maine for a whole week!

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  14. Welcome home, Sailor! Okay, this made me bawl. Seven months is, like, three eternities in mom time. Congratulations to Sailor and hugs to mom! What a fine young man you’ve got there!

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  15. Awwwwwwwww and awe! Welcome home, sailor! You have a whole family of reds sending you much joy and congratulations!

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    1. I told him to check out the blog today. He said it's like having 150 aunts cooing over him...

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    2. The more the merrier, Sailor! And don't forget to listen to your mother!

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    3. LOL, Julia! 150 aunties, indeed.

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  16. So, so happy Spencer is home and LOVE all the photos!

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  17. Oh Julia you do know how to turn us all on. Yes, I'm sitting here weeping too. I was fine till I played the video. So very happy Spencer is home and on shore for a good long while. Waiting at homecoming is never easy. Just thinking back to some of my waiting past experiences. I think we see more honest emotions at airports etc than any other place.

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    1. So true. It funny, after we watched the news video together, Spencer said, "Hey, they didn't even turn the camera on me!" I told him that's because we all KNOW he's glad to be home. The sailors laugh, it's the families that cry with happiness and relief.

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  18. So glad that Spencer is back home safely! My father was a Navy man. I don't think it matters how modern the ships are, the sea is still a monster to face, and it sounds like he was deployed in a touchy part of the globe. Enjoy the holidays, and please let him know his service is appreciated, at sea or on shore.

    The silly siblings photo is outstanding.

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  19. Welcome back! I’m leaking tears too, remembering homecomings from deployments in the past. I have so much respect and admiration for our military and an equal amount for their families. It is not easy staying at home when your loved one is deployed.
    Enjoy and make up for lost time!

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    1. Just being able to call him and text is such a treat, Pat!

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  20. Great post. I hope you get to enjoy some time with him before he heads off again.

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    1. Mark, he had a little less than three years to run on this enlistment, and he'll have the next two on shore duty, in Norfolk. When he chose Virginia over San Diego, I thought he was a little cracked - I mean, have you seen San Diego? - but now I'm grateful he's within (a long day's) driving distance.

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  21. Awww, Julia, that is so lovely!! So wonderful to have Spencer home, and to have all the sibs together!! Tell Spencer we are SO proud of him!!!

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  22. Great post. Great photos! Thank you for sharing with us.

    Diana

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    1. I have to admit, this beats Facebook for making your friends admire pictures of your kids!

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    2. Beautiful family. Definitely better than Facebook!

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  23. So happy for you. You have wonderful kids. What a relief for you to have your son back. Love the post today.

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  24. Welcome Home Sailor/Spencer! Thank you for your service and have a wonderful holiday!

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  25. My son-in-law is a navy test pilot. He was on an 8 month deployment (while he was back seat in a F-18) just two weeks after their daughter was born. His plane was downed in Iraq at one point for a week which was scary for the entire extended family even though we knew he was safe. We thank him for his service often as I'm sure you do your son. Being a military family is for the brave and that doesn't just mean the family member in the military but those who wait at home - we tell our daughter often.

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  26. I forgot to say - so glad your son is home, your heart must be so full.

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  27. What a wonderful reunion, Julia! I'm so happy for you all, having to go without seeing your son for so long and finally getting to hug him. I think we all got a bit teary at that picture. I think you have such a fabulous family, fun and quirky and smart and beautiful. Welcome home, Sailor!

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  28. Palpable joy in your photos �� my father referred to his ribbons etc as Fruit Salad; was amused by your reference to Spencer’s Lettuce. What’s with the military and food��
    May the circle be unbroken (thank-you Margaret Maron, if memory serves me a Knott family tradition- but I’m old, so I graciously accept my error if I’m not right)

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  29. Family reunions are the best! Congratulations to you and yours!

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  30. Extremely grateful I'm reading this at the end of my day. I'm not sure which got to me most - the blog itself or everyone's heartfelt comments.

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