Waiting, Waiting, and More Waiting

Exert from The Other Side of War pg. 16. (It was 24 hours after Aaron was injured in Iraq. He is in Germany, where they are stabilizing him to be transported to Brooke Army Medical Center.)

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It was Thursday evening, and I was sitting on our back patio, thinking, crying, hoping, and conversing with the night wind. Only a few months earlier, my three children’s voices had filled the night air, with the joking around and laughter only the young seem to express so unflinchingly. I wondered about Aaron’s medical needs and if he was on a respirator, or if he did not need one. Was he aware of what was going on around him, or was he kept unconscious? Did he know how much I loved him and how it was tearing me up inside, not being with him?

As the early morning sun slowly began to touch the clear, peaceful sky, all I could think of was that Aaron’s eyes mimicked that same cool blue color. I sat there with the phone held tightly in my hand, waiting anxiously for the next call, even though I knew I would not hear anything until he was ready to be transported from Germany to San Antonio.

The Lord had already assured me He would not take Aaron’s life, so the thought of getting that phone call wasn’t even in me…

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Mothers of Today

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all you moms on our special day!  I hope your day is filled with the love you deserve! You are the strength behind those who have made this nation what it is today. You have cradled and taught with love and compassion those who have grown to be the leaders of our country through the years. You are raising up the next generation that will be responsible for the future endeavors to maintain our freedoms. Be proud of who you are, and the importance of your passion to be mothers! God bless you all, and may He hold you firmly in His hands.

One By One

One by one they decide to serve this country during a time of war. One by one they continue to sign their lives away, if that’s what it takes. They have each made this decision knowing they may pay the ultimate price.

One by one they stand strong, as they look to the one on their right and to the one on their left. They pledge to fight for each other, as well as for country, family and home.

One by one they watch, as the one who stood beside them falls. And another steps up, one by one they stand, they fight.

One by one they return home. One thing that never entered their minds was returning home changed, injured, mutilated, unrecognizable.

One by one they fall through the cracks. One by one they take their own life, the one they so eagerly signed over to serve. One by one for every hour of everyday, they die.

Why is it that one by one we turn our eyes away? One by one we choose to ignore, to act as though we don’t know their struggles, to not reach out to those standing so close.

One by one we will be held accountable. Which one are you, the one who served, the one who reached out, or the one who quietly turned away?

Be the one, the one who cares, the one who listens, the one who stands up for and beside them. Be on their right, and on their left, walk before them. And always have their back–as they had yours.

Please, do what ever you can. Let’s stop death by suicide among or warriors!!!

Ask Yourself

While I was visiting my 85 year old aunt, she was married to my mothers brother, we drifted into conversation about “the old days.”  Not the “good old days,” because they were hard times, troubling times. Times when people struggled to put food on their tables and clothes on their backs. Times when some watched as war broke out in countries they once called home.

Most of my people were born and raised on farms in the mid-west. For generations going back to before the founding of this country, they planted their gardens, plowed their fields, and took care of their livestock. They worked hard from sun up to sun down. And not just the adults, but the children too. That’s just the way things were back then. They all understood that everyone in the family had to do their part, and it never entered their minds that it should be any other way. Everybody worked.

I had to smile when Aunt Dody talked about their warm water baths. They would haul water from the well and fill up a tub that was located in the yard “out a ways from the house.” “The sun would just warm that water right up.” she said. And they would take turns “washing up.”

Most families “back then” had a grandma or other elderly relative living with them. They would help out around the house and with the cooking as long as they were able. Then, they were cared for by all the other members of the family until they passed on. Families were close. The children learned a lot by having their older relations in the same house, and most times in the same bedroom. Most farm houses only had two rooms, one for cooking and eating and the other room was for sleeping. Conversation, or visiting as my aunt would say, took place around the kitchen table.

My aunt and I talked about the clothes we had growing up, and how our mothers sewed everything. My mother would sew five dresses at the beginning of the school year for myself and my younger sister. I’ve long since forgotten when I finally got a “store bought dress.” After school we would carefully hang them up in the closet. We took good care of those dresses because they had to last.

Aunt Dody said her mother made her three dresses for school. Now, to make their clothes meant a trip to the feed store. It was the same for my mother, along with all the other girls in their one room school house. My mothers family, and my aunts, lived on land around the town of Welch, Oklahoma. Yes, look that one up on your maps.

The sacks that the feed for the horses came in were made from material of various colors and prints. This material would be put to good use when made into dresses, shirts, aprons, and anything else that might be needed. The sacks would be stacked to the roof in the feed store in town, and the girls would have the clerk moving the sacks around until they found the colors and prints they wanted. Everyone in the family took turns when a sack was emptied and brought in to be sown. But sometimes the print that finally made its way to the house, would not be the one they had their eye on when it was their turn.

“I really had my eye on this one pattern. But when it was empty and ready to be made into something, it was grandma’s turn. Will my grandma of course wanted me to have it, you know how grandma’s are,” said Aunt Dody, But her momma pulled her aside and whispered to her, “Now Dody, you let your grandma have that one and you can have the next one.”

The next piece of material that came in was “a really pretty blue with little flowers just sprinkled all over it. I’d had my eye on that other one, and I guess I didn’t notice this one in that load of feed sacks.” She leaned over to me as we each took a sip of our sweet ice tea and said, “We really used a lot of feed for them horses of ours.”

Her momma made “this beautiful dress with a fishtail skirt, you know where it’s longer in the back,” Aunt Dody said. But, when her mother finished the dress, which needed buttons for the front of the top, her momma didn’t have any buttons. “Well my aunt was over to the house one Sunday, and I was showing her my new dress that momma had made up for me.” said Aunt Dody. “And she said she had some pearl buttons that she had cut off an old dress. And she thought they would be perfect for mine,” she continued. “Now I really thought I was something with those pearl buttons on my new dress.”

As we continued to talk about how much we have now, compared to then, we both paused—remembering times past.  These are stories that should never die. We need to record the stories our parents, grandparents, or any older person that is willing to share, so that we may never forget. What is it that we must never forget? That the people who built this country, who gave birth to a nation of proud people willing to defined her, who were willing to do whatever it takes to grow her into a mighty nation, they were all members of our families. These are all reasons to never forget.

Past generations of this countries citizens built the foundation for freedom that we all rest on today. Our fathers and mothers, our grandparents, storytellers everywhere, are very much like our young men and women today. From the time our nation was conceived there has been war. And with war comes those who willingly stand up to defend this way of life we enjoy, sometimes without considering the price that may have to be paid.

Today it’s our sons and daughters, our siblings, our spouses, and our friends, who stand up to fight the battles to secure a safe life for us. And when they return home from war, do we ask ourselves what we can do for them? Yes, there are those all across this country who reach out to help our returning service members, especilly the wounded. But the need is great, and the response from our civilian population is insufficient.

Ask yourself, “How would I respond if it were my child, my brother or sister, my spouse or best friend returning home from war to an ungrateful nation?” Would you try and make sure the next warrior who stepped back onto American soil was not forgotten, but truly appreciated and cared for? I sincerely hope so.

I guess where I’m going with this is to ask all American citizens to wakeup, give back, remember from whence we came. Think about it, the way to honor your ancestors, to honor your family and friends today, and to honor and preserve this way of life for the generations to come, is by honoring the warriors and their families who are fighting todays wars.

Take a step. Make it happen. Say, “Thank You.”

The Question

The early morning darkness was beginning to show the promise of another crisp autumn morning.  Through the window I watched the orange glow of the slowly rising sun sitting just below the hills in the distance, as I took another sip of my honey sweetened tea.

Instead of enjoying this peaceful time of the early morning dawn, I sit at my desk—remembering—writing another article on the question I am most often asked.

What is it like to answer a phone call informing you that your child has been injured in battle?  I must have answered that question in many different ways, over the past 9 years.  But, the words were never even close to the reality of that unbearable moment—that moment when time stops—that moment when you know that nothing will ever be the same again.

I remember hearing words that made absolutely no sense.  They were nothing more than a string of garbled utterances, carried through the air from a phone so far away.  They entered my world without hesitation, as my hand gripped tighter and tighter around my phone.  The string of words that seemed to be read from a sheet of paper, so formally, came crashing into my world trying to eliminate hope.  I suspected they must be read, because of the difficulty the person on the other end of this conversation is having in just saying such things.

When the call ended, the words spoken began to take on their combined meaning.  They ran through my mind while I felt as though my heart was being ripped from my chest, and I screamed with all that I am, “No!”

But the reality of those words remained, and I had to plan…

How do you plan for this “thing” you prayed would never reach your door?

You don’t—you can’t…

You simple respond, one small step at a time, as the details and realities are slowly set before you.

First the tears flow—for the life that was my child’s future, the life that has been forever changed, and then for my life as well.  How selfish I felt at that moment, wondering what would be required of me.  “How will I cope?” I thought, as I started that journey on a path that held only uncertainties.

The perfect child that I had handed to another was being returned damaged, but this was still my child.  I had to reach deep inside my own emotions, and present a world of hope and healing that I wasn’t at all certain would exist longer than the light of one more day.

One moment, one hour, and one day at a time, I tried to do all I could to bring life back to some kind of normalcy.  Normalcy—what a strange word—Its definition had been so completely changed by that single phone call.  Then it had to be redefined, and its goals redirected.  My son’s life, nor mine, would ever be the same, and that could be a good thing or a bad one.  That was a choice we both had to make.  A choice that must be made every single day for the rest of our lives.

We learned to take each day as it came, and not to try and figure out all the answers at once.  The questions would change.  And those answers that we were finding some small bit of comfort in, would no longer apply.  Each new day would start with its own beginnings, and a different set of goals—yet to be defined.

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