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For military moms, happy Mother's Day is call away

Sunday, May 9, 2004

Lynn Feeler of Sikeston poses with a photograph of her son, Jeremy Idleman.
SIKESTON -- A phone call from her son is the only Mother's Day gift Lynn Feeler needed from him this year.

"We had a 45 minute conversation and it was a wonderful Mother's Day present," noted Feeler, whose son, Jeremy Idleman, 23, is currently serving in Iraq with Charlie Company of the 1140th Engineer Battalion.

This is the second Mother's Day Linda Welter of Chaffee will spend without a visit from her son, Jonathan Welter, 25, who is also serving in Iraq with Charlie Company. A phone call Wednesday from her son was her Mother's Day gift.

"I was really glad to hear his voice," Welter said. "In an e-mail, I can't hear anything like a concern in his voice."

While nothing eases a mind better than a phone, e-mails are great, too.

"E-mail is wonderful," Feeler agreed. "We're the first generation with this and he e-mails whenever he can."

Prior to Wednesday's phone call, Welter hadn't heard from her son in any form in two weeks.

"It was right about time of all of the uprisings when we didn't hear from him. And of course being a mom, I was wondering 'Is he involved in all of that?' or 'Is he not able to get the Internet?' It was very upsetting."

But both Welter and Feeler said their sons are doing fine and think the media may be portraying the war a little worse than what it really is.

And the mothers noted their sons are very careful when communicating with them not to give out any information that may hamper the security and safety of the troops. So they try to talk about normal things.

"I asked him, 'Does it bother you if I tell you what we're doing here or that the peonies and honeysuckles are blooming?'

She continued: "And he said: 'No, keep writing and telling me stuff like that because when I have some down time, I can picture and smell the peonies and honeysuckle.'"

Of course both Welter and Feeler send care packages to their sons on a regular basis, but it's also takes a mother's intuition to know how their children are really doing. "Whenever you have a child in harm's way, you never can get it off of your mind. It's always in the back of your head," Feeler noted.

While everyday is hard, holidays and special occasions like today are, too, Welter admitted. "But when we have a get together, before we eat, we say a prayer and hold hands. We always remember Jonathan and the rest of the troops."

Feeler said her family is one that tries not to think "awfulic" things. She comes from a military-oriented family and has seen grandmothers and mothers deal with their sons going off to serve their country.

Through her experiences, Feeler has learned the support for most military families comes from others in the community.

And unlike spouses and children of troops, the parents don't need the financial support, but they do need the emotional support, Feeler pointed out.

Although they don't like the idea of their son being in danger, they do support him and everyone else in the stand they've taken, Welter said.

"We choose how we respond to it and it's a huge waste of time to bemoan the situation and to anticipate the worst and it's not productive," Feeler said. "What we can do is be busy and support the troops ... and fly that flag."

Feeler said her son takes advantage of his position and turns it into a positive situation. "He will do OK," she said. "Jeremy is interested in keeping the troops' morale up."

Welter said serving his country was something her son felt he needed to do.

"He told me it needs to be done so his nephews and nieces and the next generation don't have to be worried about terrorism," Welter recalled.

A United States Postal worker, Welter noted, "I told everyone at the office when I get a phone call from him, I may be 30 minutes late coming, but I'm pulling off the side of the road and talking to him."

And Feeler said everywhere she goes, someone almost always asks her about her son.

"And I love it," Feeler said. "And like to talk about him."

Spoken like a couple of proud mothers.