THE GIFT

I wrote this back in July. I think it’s message for our new Commander-and-Chief, is an important one.

I have been trying to write this “Independence Day” message for a couple of weeks. And frankly, I have been struggling. Then, a new connection on LinkedIn sent me a message and through our exchange, I was inspired. If not me, who? I wrote at the end of my message, a reference to the firework displays. The veterans who have seen war, who have fought battles, our warriors, struggle during those fifteen minutes of, “Bombs Bursting in Air.” For many it is terrifying. The noise can throw them back in time when there were real bombs exploding, real danger, real loss of life, real friends dead. We are a young country with many wounds to heal. But, we are strong and need compassionate leaders.

Out history of the emphasis we put on this day of the year, to celebrate our nations freedom, to honor all veterans from that first day when we declared ourselves an independent nation in 1776, is phenomenal! We are a young nation at 240 years. But, we are a strong nation who needs strong leaders.

There will be family reunions, picnics, barbecues, parades, concerts, and baseball games in every backyard, small town, city, and state where people can gather. Th months of preparations for this single day, to show our patriotism is nothing short of monumental. We are a young country. But, we are strong and need righteous leaders.

This one day of the year has been stretched into a week, or more, of honoring our veterans in various ways. All the ball parks have a veteran throwing out that first pitch. There are charitable organizations honoring veterans with special events. And some families are gathering to remember the one that won’t be with them this year…We are a young nation, but, we are strong and the price has been high. We need honorable leaders.

All this attention to the veterans walking among us today, warms my heart deeper than any of you will ever know. Some of you have similar feelings from your own circumstances, and some of you stand proud that one of yours has given their livesvso we can keep this day of freedom sacred. We honor you too… This is a day about remembering the price as well as the gift. Yes, the gift. The gift of freedom all veterans fought for, and are still fighting for today. This gift of freedom…all gave some, and some gave all.

Remember this Mr. President.

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Here We Are

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Well, Veterans Day 2015 has come and gone. Actually, it was a weeklong celebration of gratitude for what our veterans have given for us all. With all we did, every place we went, the people we met, the thing that stood out beyond anything else were the veterans themselves.

I love to stand back and watch as one veteran approaches another–whether they have met before or not– and without hesitation they reach out with an automatic acceptance and a camaraderie of spirit, which those of us on the “outside” cannot comprehend.

We try to see inside the heart of our war fighters–our sons and daughters, our spouses, our family members, our friends–as we try to pry from their shielded memories, from those thoughts that haunt them, wanting desperately to understand that which we cannot.

What we can do is simple. We can listen. We can observe. On one occasion, I was attending an event where there were wounded warriors and caregivers mingling within a crowded room. A room that was buzzing with warriors coming together with a release of spirit that only happens within the ranks of those who have served. And the caregivers huddling together to share their own joys and burdens. Again a closed group that only exists because of circumstances that redefined their own lives.

At one point I was standing in a hallway, waiting on a friend, when a young woman in uniform entered and stood across from me. I looked at her and saw someone who was desperately trying to hold down a full-blown panic attack. All she said was, “There are so many people.” I asked her to breathe with me. In through the nose and out through the mouth. We continued this breathing in unison for a couple of minutes. She watched me, as I watched her, with each motion in this simple taking of each breath.

Everything outside of that hall disappeared for a few moments. That was what she needed. Time to reach inside and find that strength within herself, which she had lost sight of in that crowded room. We parted not knowing each other’s names, only a shared moment of awareness.

That is the way we can help. We don’t need to know the why or the what. All we need to do is listen and observe. The answer will become clear. Then we act. And a bond is made.

NOVEMBER SPECIAL

DO YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AND GIVE BACK TO VETERANS!!!

For every one of my books purchased through Amazon, or myself, during the month of November,

$1.00 will be donated to THE BOB WOODRUFF FOUNDATION

and $1.00 will be donated to OPERATION MEND

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THE OTHER SIDE OF WAR–PAPERBACK ONLY

A MOTHER’S SIDE OF WAR–PAPERBACK OR HARDCOVER

Contact me by email- alwaysamarinemom@yahoo.com or text-(405)818-7490

THE OTHER SIDE OF WAR – A MOTHER’S SIDE OF WAR

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THE OTHER SIDE OF WAR and A MOTHER’S SIDE OF WAR are the same book, but under different titles. I decided to offer the book under this other title in order to raise awareness that this is a book about healing after war. It doesn’t speak only to mothers. It is a story that warriors, spouses, and older children can relate too. Those from all walks of life will relate to this family that has been affected by war. The warriors are not the only ones who have been injured and must find their own place of healing. Families, friends and communities have been forever changed by those injured while serving.

This true story was written with the intent to help those who are hurting. As well as to educate those who don’t have a military connection, and have no idea about the hardships that our heroes and their families are going through on a daily basis.

I have released both titles in paperback at cost, $5.00 plus shipping, if purchased through me at alwaysamarinemom@yahoo.com.

There are several organizations who will be giving the books out at Christmas, retreats, and adding them to gift bags at fund raisers and year end meetings. Others are ordering just for themselves.

Please consider gifting this book to those you know who may need a look into the world of our wounded, and the remarkable, heroic, efforts of people who are eager to help. The message is “You are not alone,” to those who are in the midst of their own post war lives.

Please spread the word.

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…

Silver and Gold

Silver and Gold,

Silver and Gold,

Families of heroes,

Both Silver and Gold.

A warrior is gone,

And with death there is sorrow,

As their family lets go,

A Gold Star in the window.

A warrior is wounded,

Life has been changed,

For a Silver Star family,

Life is never the same.

Silver and Gold,

They both have seen loss,

Precious their medal,

Two paths that cross.

Silver and Gold,

When joined together,

Gives strength to both,

Supporting each other.

Silver and Gold,

Working for good,

Making sure we remember,

They gave what they could.

Silver and Gold,

Silver and Gold,

Families of heroes,

Both Silver and Gold.

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Thunder

The darkened, cloudy sky’s,

Above the rolling ocean waters,

Caused the marine to feel

The thunder of his lost brothers.

~ Diana Mankin Phelps

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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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Labor Day

Labor Day always makes me think more of giving birth than of the years I spent in the workforce.  I have given birth to four beautiful children.  The day my youngest was born was almost his last as well.  After an emergency C-section to save his life, time, and time again, the fight to insure his safety would be a life long battle.  As an infant, then as a child, and then as a young adult, the fight for my son, Marine Cpl. Aaron Mankin, has at times been difficult.

But everything he has gone through, has made him strong, as he moves through life leaving his mark with humility, honesty, and humor.

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So There I Was

“So there I was.”  This is a phrase that always gets the attention of all who are listening.  Aaron always makes light of the people who begin a story with this line.  He will stop the person who has just uttered these words and gather more people around to listen.  He explains that when someone starts with this phrase you can always expect to hear a very interesting story.

Now here I am, with a very interesting story…

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