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      A Soldier’s Mother
      by
      One mother’s journey through the Israeli army with her sons

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      Paula R. Stern is CEO and founder of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company offering documentation services and training seminars. She made aliyah in 1993 when her oldest son was 6 years old. In March 2007, her son Elie entered the Artillery Division of the Israeli army and Paula began writing about her experiences as A Soldier’s Mother. The blog continues as Elie begins Reserve Duty and her son Shmulik is now a soldier. She recently opened a publishing house, helping other authors fulfill their dream to publish.

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      Cheshvan 15, 5770, 11/2/2009

      Post from Friday - YES!


      No. I can't believe the army will let Elie out this weekend. It isn't logical. He has been home for the last two weekends in a row. Sunday, the army is saying their thank you to Elie and about 20 other artillery soldiers as they prepare to end their service to the nation.

      The army will take them on a two day vacation - hiking, entertainment, I don't even know what. That is Sunday. He must leave Sunday morning to join the group - these 20 soldiers from many units...each preparing in the next few months to return to civilian life and begin again whatever they might have thought to do before. Usually, Elie has to return to base later in the day. Since he must leave first thing Sunday morning, another commander will have to fulfill whatever tasks Elie might have been required to do over this weekend.

      That being the case, that another commander must stay up north, there is no logic in Elie staying too. But that is a mother's logic, not army logic. Elie is supposed to be up north this weekend, would be if he wasn't going on this 2-day parting trip...so why change what is supposed to be.

      "Will the army let you go?" I asked him repeatedly.

      Each time, "they haven't let me know yet."

      Yesterday, I was quite a ways up north. It would have been perfect for Elie to meet me. I would have saved him a train ride and a bus ride.

      "If you can get out first thing, you can meet me here," I told him. "And if you get out in the afternoon like you did last time, I can leave here and drive part way to you."

      "We'll see," was all Elie would say. It reminded me of all the "we'll sees" I gave my children growing up. How many of them did I deliver on? How many were just delaying tactics until I said "no?"

      Yesterday I called him as I was preparing to leave Haifa and return south. "Are you coming home?" I asked.

      "Still don't know," Elie said. "Anyway, it won't be today."

      I woke this morning, sure that Elie wasn't coming home. I sent my younger children off to school, began preparing for the day and the coming Sabbath, all sure Elie wasn't coming home.

      "We need to set the table for 7 for tomorrow; 5 tonight," I told my middle son. This is a calculation. The table without extensions can hold 6. I can put my younger daughter next to me. Is it worth having this large table when we will be only 5 tonight?

      "Ok," my son responded in the clear voice of a male who will do whatever the female says so long as he doesn't have to make the decision.

      He ran to do an errand and the phone rang. As I picked it up, I saw it was Elie calling. "Where are you?" was my first question - not even hello. His answer will be enough to tell me.

      "Hatzor."

      Oh God, he is coming home. So stupid to be so happy, so silly. He was home just a few days ago. He's in training up north, far from checkpoints and Arabs that might or might not be carrying weapons, explosives, knives. So silly but such joy.

      He's coming home...only till Sunday, but joy. My family will be complete - one meal with all my children. I'm adding an extension to the table now.

      Shabbat shalom.