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When I was a Youngster

I joined the reserves. Parents said, get a job, so I did. That was in 1980 or so. A peaceful time of yore, I jined up with HMCS Malahat in Victoria. Got in some great training, hiked the west coast trail, from Renfrew, before the boardwalk. Learned drill and travelled the country learning my craft. Cooking. Firefighting. NBCD school. Shoring. It was fun.

I spent a few years in what they call Class “B” service where you are attached to a reg force unit for a period of time, in support of Katimavik and other programs. Met some lifelong friends. Met my husband and co parent. Since he was reg force, we decided that a family can only afford one military member. Of course, that was him. So, I became a civvy and turned to civilian employment on the base.

We went through a couple of postings in remote locations and then home to Victoria before he was shipped out to “peacekeeping in Bosnia”. A year later he came home a stranger, with a girlfriend ten years younger than we were. Yeah, that was fun.

So, I became a single mother of a 5 year old child who blamed me for the breakup. “Couldn’t you just forgive him?” I got the same thing from my Dad, but at least I could tell him that you can’t take back someone who has moved on to someone else. He understood. But you can’t say that to a 5 year old. So I negotiated the best divorce I could. I gave up my “share” of his pension in return for good will. It worked brilliantly. We had a good divorce. Medical, dental, school supplies and most importantly, cooperation. My son jokes that I am “The Good Ex wife.”

So, my son ended up with the military tradition. Predictably, he followed that with cadets, followed by reserves, where he also found gainful employment through the Olympics and then Afghanistan. He then switched from Artillery to Reg force Navy.

I am so proud of him. It is so my fault that he felt that the military was his best career choice. It is my fault that he did not have better opportunities. But I am proud of his courage and conviction.

I never really recovered from that divorce. I was 30. The Government downsized the PSAC and I quit my job at Royal Roads, full on midlife crisis. Never found a secondary career, it was a parade of increasingly poorly paid jobs which resulted in disability.

Now, my son faces a career much different than his father and I. One where our Government insists that Canada should involve itself in invasions for corporate greed. Without the benefit of functional equipment or adequate training. Where veterans support is so nonexistent that morale has never been worse. Government is actually sueing veterans to deny the sacred obligation. Sexual assault is rampant in the forces and equipment is ageing and breaking down.

Some people think that I am a loser who has never done anything, because they have not personally seen me do anything. To those people I say, walk a mile in my moccasins, or fuck you, whichever you prefer..

2 comments to When I was a Youngster

  • Ole Infidel

    Sister,

    I am an [Retired]Army Veteran of thirty-three years, and I like you [like what you have done, what you have accomplished, like the way you raised a fine son. And I like sistersagesmusings.ca

    Do not like the way you gave up your right to half his pension; you earned every single cent of it; I know my better half has.

    cheers…Todd

  • Kim

    Thanks Todd, believe me, I have questioned that decision myself many times, but what’s done is done and there’s no going back. I will spend the rest of my years in poverty as a result.