My name is Samantha (Sam) Ferrand and I’m the mum (an English one!) to two young men: Alex (soon to be 20) and Josef (soon to be 18). I have been blessed by being able to stay home with them when they were young. We had many adventures with their trucks, legos and trains – those were really fun times. I am a photographer so I was able to juggle my small home business with being a stay at home mom.
Alex has always had a warrior’s heart. At five he formed guns from metal poles and planted them in the planter at the front of our home – protecting the homestead! He loves history, drama, baseball, English comedy and Shakespeare! Sounds like the typical marine right…
Josef is a creative, compassionate and a great athlete. He really loves football. He used to love books but then videogames invaded:( He is currently a senior at Union Mine High School.
What is your biggest strength as a mom?
It depends on which season you ask me in! When my kids were little, I think my biggest strength was letting the housework go and playing with them instead. “A clean house is no place to raise children” was my mantra! Now, as they’ve gotten older I just try to listen, support and advice when asked. Letting them make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. It’s hard but necessary.
What is your favorite thing to do with your grown children?
We love to hike, travel and eat together! We’ve been on some once in a lifetime kind of trips and I hope there’s more to come.
Can you share a little background about your son? How old is he? Where is he currently? How long will he serve?
Despite me not wanting the boys to have anything to do with guns, they would craft pretzels, slices of toast and sticks into guns! Alex has always had a passion for anything military. He absolutely loves history and strategy. He also has an excellent sense of humor and a love of drama especially Shakespeare. He is a US Marine and deployed on February 12th, 2016. He has been on the Harpers Ferry sailing around the world and is due home mid September. He signed up for 4 years of service and has currently been in a year and 7 months.
When did he show interest in going into the military and how did you feel about it at first? Have your feelings changed over time?
He first seriously started talking about it during junior year of high school. He took the ASVAB test and scored really well, and before we knew it we were walking into the marine recruiting office. At first I really did not know what to think. It was obvious that God had wired him up with a passion for military, but I wanted him teaching in a nice cosy classroom not going to war! My feelings have changed over time – I admire his decision to serve our country and am glad he’s living his dream of being a US Marine.
How does your husband and other son feel about him serving?
My husband struggled too initially. Alex really needs his alone time to refuel and my husband was concerned how he would do in close quarters with lots of other marines 24/7. Alex did just fine and Mike is so proud of him. Josef misses his brother and feels lonely at home without him, but is proud that Alex is serving his country.
Do you think Josef is military bound?
I don’t think so – thank goodness! Both of them being gone would be too much!
What has been the hardest part about the journey? How do you find peace?
I miss Alex terribly. During boot camp we went 13 weeks without seeing or talking to him. I had the marine calendar of what they would be doing every day and crossed off each day as it passed with a marker – it helped me get through those weeks seeing his graduation day was getting closer. Since he’s been deployed we rarely know where he is and it can go for weeks without us hearing from him. My peace comes from trusting God with his safety – I know God has a plan and a purpose for Alex and loves him even more than I do.
Can you elaborate more on the sacrifice you have faced as a family with Alex away.
It’s been really hard going from a family of 4 to 3. Josef especially misses his brother’s company – being an “only” child isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! We miss Alex everyday and the long stretches without hearing form him are rough. We weren’t with him on his birthday last year and won’t be this year either – that’s hard. Same thing on our birthdays – they just aren’t the same with Alex not being here. Also Alex is changing as he has been serving – since we don’t see him for long periods of time, the changes are way more noticeable. At the Christmas Parade through Placerville last year I was in tears as the military unit went by! Saying all that, we are very proud of Alex and happy is fulfilling his dream.
How has his journey changed you? Do you follow the news and politics more?
I am more tuned into what’s going on overseas. I have an empathy for other military moms. I didn’t realize the sacrifice it would be for our whole family. On the occasions we are all together, I treasure it.
What advice would you give to other military moms?
Find out if there is a Facebook page of your son/daughter’s unit and follow it. It really helps to connect with other parents. Let your child know how proud of them you are. Write to them as often as you can. Pray, pray and then pray some more!
At this point what are you looking forward to the most?
Alex returning from his deployment and coming home on leave – I am so looking forward to seeing his handsome face and getting a big hug, then hearing all his stories.
“Through the stress and strife I proudly serve the Marine Mom life,”
Samantha thank you for sharing your life with us. They say, “the only thing stronger than a Marine is the mother that raised them”. Your pride and love for your boys is beautiful and your faith and strength so encouraging. Love to you, and Alex, thank you for serving our country.