I first noticed the importance of “home” with Elie. It was later reinforced when Shmulik was in the army and I see it again now. Home is everything to these soldiers in a way it never seemed to be even a few months ago. They measure their time in the army each week, by how long it will be until they get home again. One of the worst punishments you can give a soldier, is to tell him he has to stay on base a few extra hours, or worse, a whole weekend.

David came home this weekend to hugs, a box of brownies ready for him to take home, and some warm soup for the cold he has. The last time he came home sick, days later, I got sick too. This winter, following a bout with CMV (a “mega” virus that 90% of the world has but which in most cases is symptom-less, while in other people it is devastatingly exhausting…yeah, I got it hard), my immune system seems to be functioning at a low capacity – I can’t fight anything off. So I got David’s cold, and Elie’s – on to pneumonia and hopefully back again. Hopefully, I won’t catch this one too.

And yet, when I heard him sniffling, I started pumping him with Vitamin C and then gave him the whole bottle to take back to base with him, with instructions to take 2 a day. All packed, with cheese sandwiches and water, I drove him to the base, where he catches the first of two or three buses back to base.


“So you’ll be home Friday,” I ask after I get my hug and kiss.

“That’s the plan,” he told me.

“Tell them that they can let you out Thursday; we’ll still take you.”

And then he smiled that wonderful smile. “I ask them every week.”

The army has a language all it’s own. I tried following it this weekend while Davidi was speaking to me. It wasn’t easy. There’s a word for “fighting inside a building”; there are words for rank; location, and more – all made up of only the first letters of each word. Impossible for anyone not in the army to understand. Elie and David spoke this language during many discussions; I sit there on the sidelines, listening and wishing I could understand…knowing they would explain…but not wanting to interrupt them. One of those abbreviations that I do understand is “Hamshush” – which is Thursday to Sunday.

David gets released on Friday and has to be back on base on Sunday – the dream at this point, is to be released on Thursday, giving them another night at home and the chance not to spend early Friday morning on three buses.

Then he said each time he asks about “Hamshush” – the commander laughs. And, if he mentions it, he turns to Davidi and says, “You want Hamshush, right David?”

Minutes before the bus came, David said he was going to get out of the warm car to stand with the others – all waiting for the bus south. I got out – better to get that last hug and kiss before he goes…and then restarted the car and drove to the next traffic circle to make the U-turn for home. As I passed the bus stop from the other direction, I saw a hand waving to me – David, sitting in the very back of the bus.

The trick with a soldier is to send him to base with a piece of home – cooked food, sandwiches, just something that he’ll have most of the week, a reminder that home is waiting for him.

That wave meant so much to me…I can’t begin to explain.

Posted By Blogger to A Soldier’s Mother at 1/31/2016 07:13:00 AM


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Paula R. Stern is the co-founder of Retraining4Israel (www.retraining4israel.com), a new organization working to help olim make aliyah successful. Paula made aliyah over 25 years ago with her husband and their three children. She lives in Maale Adumim and is often referred to as “A Soldier’s Mother”. She is now a happy wife, mother of five (including two sabras), and grandmother, happily sharing her voice and opinions with others. She is also a senior tech writer and lead training instructor at WritePoint Ltd. (www.writepoint.com). Please visit her new website: www.israelheartbeat.com