Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ok, here it comes. . . I've had enough wine to have loose lips (or fingers, anyway). This morning I learned that Austin is now in Baghdad; yeah. @#&$@#$@#)(&!!@##!!! I'm about to unload a "stream of consciousness" on the blogging world." HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN? How did MY ONLY TWO SONS end up in "Vietnam II"????????????????? Turn tail and run? Hell no.

It is absolutely mindboggling that politicians and the MEDIA distort reality to SELL THEMSELVES OR INCREASE THEIR RATINGS. These are peoples' lives they are playing monopoly with! My children's lives, your children's lives. WHY do we always send our children to clean up our messes???? Does that make ANY sense? Gee, there's a problem in the Middle East; may I borrow your children? I'll bring them all back --- but some in wooden boxes; sorry. Hey, I'll throw in a really nice flag for you to put on your mantel; that'll make up for it, right?

There are so many jokes about blowing up Iran, Iraq and all the crazies over there -- I'd like to see Washington, DC dismantled and rebuilt in the spirit in which the United States of American was originally founded. Not a government of lazy workers and two-faced politicians. Again, HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?

Florida recently elected a new governor. The "loser" worked at a law firm where I worked for many years. He was considered an absolute moron but he not only got elected to the State House but to the Congress of the United States of America! He's a nice guy, he's from one of the richest families in Florida, but he's definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed! Is he buy-able? Is that how he got to Washington?

I just downed the rest of the bottle -- I guess in my Fund Raising post I should have added the need for funding my favorite Chardonnay (Kendall Jackson). It was on sale at the local super market chain yesterday so I bought four bottles. That's about $10 a day to drown my fear and sorrows in booze. Let's not even talk about the co-pays on my prescription meds.

I'll most likely delete this post tomorrow when my hung over self arrives at work and checks on my blog and all the ones that I read while my morning reports run. But for now, this is going into cyberspace.

In 2000 I was the mother of a fresh and squeaky clean West Point graduate. I remember standing at the Chapel waiting for my family to pick me up and "drinking in" the feeling of the day. Now I can't even remember what it fells like to have a son at West Point. I used to tell Kris that his going to West Point was the best thing that ever happened to ME -- he'd always say, "Mom, it happened to ME." No, it happened to me. But who cares now. He's in a frickin' war and I've had too much to drink.

My apologies to anyone who finds this post offensive. BS!!!!!!! Let's shove a boot in their ASS!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

My Boyfriend Got Married Last Night!

It's true . . . and my husband, daughter and I went to the wedding. It was beautiful -- the last three minutes were anyway, we were late.

Now, let me 'splain. First, why we were late and, but for one phone call, would have missed the entire wedding. I thought the wedding was today (Saturday) --- who gets married on a Friday night? I just happened to call My Boyfriend's fiance yesterday (Friday) and said "You're getting married tomorrow!," to which she screams "IT'S TODAY!!!". Oh dear, scramble, everybody off work early, home, ready, off we go (an hour and a half drive to get there). AND, I thought the wedding was at 7:00, we arrived at 6:35 in time to hear them pronounced "Husband and Wife." The wedding had started at 6:00.

I am posting this part as an example of how EXTREMELY DISTRACTED, UNFOCUSED AND JUST ABOUT USELESS I am these days. (And because the rest is a sweet story and makes me smile.)

Now the "boyfriend" part -- because I'm sure that's a lot more interesting! Well, it's definitely NOT what you were thinking.

Years ago I had a Best Friend -- the closest best friend relationship I've ever had and wish I could have again. We were inseparable, we both had three kids, our husbands worked nights, we took our kids everywhere together, we took care of each other's kids, we shared secrets, our sons and daughters were best friends; it was great.

Then one day she left. She left her husband, her children, and me.

That was over 17 years ago.

When it became clear that she wasn't coming back, I promised her children that I would always be a part of their lives and would be there for them whenever they needed me. When I met my husband (of 15 years) I said, "there's this man and these three children . . . can you accept that"? He did -- with open arms.

That's how their dad became "my boyfriend"; I was everywhere with them. Parties, picnics, weddings. I bought the two girls their first training bras -- and let me tell you they "trained" very well (see photo top right). I should have such ... well, nevermind.

Last night I danced the Mother/Son dance with my "son".

So out of the sadness and fear that has prevailed in my life lately, I had an evening of absolute joy because my boyfriend got married last night.

My "son" Joshua; I could squeeze him so tight!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


This is the best idea I've ever had. Starting today I am collecting money for a few worthy causes -- you can donate using PayPal:

1) cryogenic freezing of me so I can wake up when "it's all over";

2) botox because my eyebrows are growing together and forming a levy system that New Orleans would envy;

3) lobotomy (a little more permanent but still an option);

4) R&D of eyeglasses with sponges to absorb massive amounts of tears shed every day.

So go on over to PayPal and start contributing.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus - Cite This Source
Main Entry: afraid
Part of Speech: adjective 1
Definition: fearful
Synonyms: abashed, aghast, alarmed, anxious, apprehensive, blanched, cowardly, cowed, daunted, discouraged, disheartened, dismayed, distressed, disturbed, faint-hearted, frightened, frozen, horrified, intimidated, nervous, panic-stricken, perplexed, perturbed, petrified, rattled, run scared*, scared, scared stiff*, shocked, spooked, startled, stunned, suspicious, terrified, terror-stricken, timid, timorous, trembling, upset, worried

These are a few words that come to mind when people ask me, "how are you doing?" Some will give me a pat on the shoulder, a hug, an "everything will be all right." How do they know that everything will be all right? Every day everything isn't all right for some soldier's mom; usually several soldiers' moms. Buck up, suck it up, keep your chin up, get over it, choose to be "happy!"

A package arrived in the mail today from Austin's girlfriend. She sent a couple of his shirts that he wanted us to have. I think one was supposed to be a Christmas gift that he forgot to bring home over the holidays. The other is his long sleeve ARMY PT shirt - he wanted me to have that. I wish she hadn't washed that shirt so I could smell Austin on it; even Austin BO would be great (though he never had BO). She also sent his checks -- his sister has his Power of Attorney so she'll keep those. Before Austin left he asked me to pay his cell phone bill (he'd pay me back) so he could have it disconnected. Sure, of course, $405???? What???? I don't want the money back. It's money he is earning in a WAR.

Next weekend I will attend the Milbloggers Conference in Arlington, VA. It feels a little weird to go to a conference on military blogging. Will my attending make any soldier's life easier? safer? time in the war shorter? No, but I do hope to meet some other mother of deployed soldiers who is as . . . petrified, rattled, run scared*, scared, scared stiff*, shocked, spooked, startled, stunned, suspicious, terrified, terror-stricken, timid, timorous, trembling, upset, worried as I am. To look into the eyes of a mother who knows exactly how I feel, to be able to talk about those feelings and be completely understood would be wonderful. Will "you" be there?

BTW, I don't even know what timorous means but I'm probably it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Homecoming Story

When my DIL Katie's second tour was over, her job was to get all 3,000 soldiers in her Brigade processed, ready and "on the way" home. She was, of course, in the last group to leave ---a few months after the others.

Her best friend (who she met in Iraq) told me that no matter WHAT time it was, very early morning, during the day or middle of the night; raining, dust storm, whatever the weather, Katie was at the gate smiling and waving "Goodbye" to EVERY GROUP OF SOLDIERS as they each began their journey HOME!

This photo is of Kris and Katie a few minutes after they were reunited. She is a very precious young woman -- and tough as Sgt Dub when she needs to be. She probably has an "angry face" too, but I have not seen it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

America at a Crossroads


WOW. . .that got my attention. If you didn't watch the two episodes on last night, find someone who recorded them and WATCH. The bloggers' stories that were "documentarized" were incredible. The drama of computer animation, perfection in narration, and the depth of each situation were so "eye opening" that I was unable to sleep until 4:30 a.m. (and be at work at 8--ok, 8:15).

These are gritty, grizzly, unsettlingly true stories originally written in blog form --- some of which we read daily. To be eerily familiar with a "documentary", putting faces, families, and lives with previously "anonymous" writers has brought this war even closer to my own life and further into my (broken) heart. In fact, I am now more terrified than ever over what my sons are going through and the living nightmares they will experience.

"In Memoriam" flashed split-second images of those who have died and while most went by too quickly to be certain of each branch of service, it was obvious they were mostly young Marines. At each flash of a gray wool collar with brass buttons I could literally feel adrenaline rush through my body; the West Point grads -- I have one of those. None of us pre-9/11 WP parents ever imagined our spit-polished, "squared away" cadets would one day be wearing digital camo, dirt, sweat and blood; and dying. It was all about pride, accomplishment, tradition and the "ideals" of duty, honor and country. The only "enemy" was Navy.

As soon as the credits rolled I started a post that became TOO INTENSE to publish here. I sent it to LAW instead -- I really needed an audience and she was a good one. Thank you, my friend.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Captain and Commander

Kris (left in Assassin photo) is an Army soldier personified; he probably bleeds testosterone. The nickname his Ft. Bragg soldiers gave him is on his truck license plate -- "BIG NA$TY". You do NOT want to mess with this guy!

He's also a "man of few words" when it comes to e-mailing Mom. This is a typical e-mail response from him: "Yes."

Kris is very close to my husband. "They walk alike, they talk alike," and Steve really misses talking to Kris on the phone. Football season was really lonely for Steve this year - they used to watch the games together "on the phone". Looks like Kris will miss this year's football season too -- with the "extension" we're all so excited about.

Other than missing his wife I think Kris is "in his element" in Iraq.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"The" Tattoo

With the increasing popularity of tattoos, I knew it was inevitable that my kids would get one or two. Austin got his first one while a senior in high school. It is tasteful -- sort of Ninja star looking. He's also got a scorpion on his ankle.

Even though I approved of the first tattoo (and even paid for it), I begged Austin not to get any more. My words were something like, "the only other tattoo you can ever get better say 'Mom' or I will be very unhappy"; being ABSOLUTELY certain he would never get a "Mom" tattoo.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My "Favorite" Quote On War (if there can be one)

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. - John Stuart Mill

This quote was featured at Austin's graduation from Basic Training and became my favorite quote about war. Want to guess when it was written? You'll be surprised.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Good Phone Call Today!!!

I went back to work today -- everyone there is very kind and supportive. It was a busy day so there wasn't much time to dwell on my fears. At 1:04 p.m. my cell phone rang -- when I answered no one was there. Then at 1:05 p.m. it rang again and when I answered it was Austin! I yelled "AUSTIN???!!!"; I was just so excited. We got to talk for 4-5 minutes before we were cut off in mid-sentence.

Our conversation reminded me of when the anchorman asks the correspondent a question and everyone waits several seconds for the correspondent to actually hear the question. Because of that we were talking over each other a lot. He sounds great; relaxed and comfortable. He mentioned how much people had talked of the heat -- he said it felt like a summer day in Florida (where he's always lived). I'm sure it will get much worse in the coming months. He should be better acclimated than most.

I e-mailed Kris telling him where Austin was and where I thought he was going. Kris, being always the Officer, tells me "he's not supposed to tell you where he is or where he's going!" If it weren't for the FOB shown on Kris' address, I probably wouldn't know where he is. I guess that's why he's an Officer --- he takes rules very seriously and always has. And I've heard that you don't ever want to get on his bad side.

Life at home feels fairly normal. It's rained for two days which is GREAT b/c it hadn't rained much in months. We're already on water restrictions. The faucet in the upstairs bathroom is dripping, I can hear it all the way down here. I really need to get up and clean but I'm not going to. I've got everything I'll need tonight gathered around me and I plan to sit right here on my chaise and only work on what is within arm's reach. I've always been interested in inventing the couch potty so I really wouldn't have to get up.

The Milblog Conference is coming up and it looks like I'm going. My plan is to leave early on Friday so I have several hours in DC before the cocktail reception that night; attend the conference Saturday then spend more time in DC on Sunday before catching an evening flight home. All by myself! I've got to stay busy and blogging (reading and writing) is my favorite pastime these days -- so why not attend the conference?

Two weekends from now I'm going to meet w/ the president of the Florida Chapter of Sew Much Comfort to offer my services in tracking information for her. I'm very proficient in spreadsheet and database software (probably already said that somewhere) so this is right up my alley. I had signed up to sew but never received my packet -- which is probably a good thing b/c just looking at the clothing was heartbreaking.

AND, I'm starting painting classes next Tuesday night. This is something I've always wanted to do even though I have no clue if I have any artistic talent -- other than sewing, quilting; anything that can be done w/ a needle and thread. A few months back I saw a large graphic painting at TJ Maxx that incorporated an American flag with other elements of Americana in an abstract way. I didn't buy it when I saw it and it's long gone. I'd like to eventually paint something like that. I'll probably start with a smiley face.

Recommended reading -- The Seven Modern Pillars of Iraq - this essay is very eye opening to the realities of Iraqi culture.

Gee, I guess I found my lost words!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Double Deployment Depression

My only two sons are now "in harm's way."

I'm just really at a loss for words. I've tried writing several times and I've got nothing.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Elvis Has Left The Building

I missed another call -- not THE CALL, though. I forgot to take my phone upstairs with me last night. Austin called from a stop over location and left me another sweet message. "I just wanted to tell you again how much I love you and since I could only make one phone call and I called you, you should know that I really love you. Anyway, I gotta go, I love you".

Rewind. . .

"THE DAY" was postponed by one day at the last minute -- prolonged agony morphed into torture. One full day of anguish to be followed by another.

On the real "THE DAY," after several early morning calls, Austin assured me that our "goodbye call" wouldn't be until late afternoon. Considering I could barely move my head from side to side and my right shoulder was constricted up around my ear , I went to get a massage. I didn't know the masseuse (Monica) so I had some 'splaining to do about why I was grossly contorted, shaking and whimpering. She was soooo sweet to me (I got the hot stones treatment for free!)

Well, when do you supposed I got my "Goodbye Call"? Yep -- butt naked on the massage table. I pleaded, "this isn't my goodbye call is it?????. " Yes, it was.

Monica gave us a few minutes "alone" and came back in to a naked, hysterical, blubbering, sobbing, blob of sludge, sitting up on her table spewing tears and snot all over her lovely bedding. Know what she did? She prayed for me!!!

Friday, April 6, 2007

"Friends are Friends Forever"

Today I want to write about our friends Ann and Kenny - or Kenny and Ann; One of those blessed couples where TWO did become ONE.

My husband Steve and I were "couple" best friends with Kenny and Ann. Kenny was my husband's best friend and his wife mine. Our children were and are still very close. We went every where together, they went with us to take Kris to West Point over 10 years ago. We spent a few days in NYC beforehand and he knew the city so well from business trips that showed us the time of our lives. "Goo for yo famwy" - that's the forever memory from the restaurant in China Town when Kenny told the waiter to just bring us whatever he thought we'd enjoy. "I make it goo for you famwy!" Another day the boys went to a Yankees game and the girls went shopping on Fifth Avenue. And on and on. Kenny and Steve would go to see Kris at WP -- always timed around those Yankee games. Kenny even met my now daughter-in-law before I did.

Kenny's job necessitated a move to South Florida seven years ago. At that time my heart felt ALMOST as if I was dealing with a death. It was at least three years before I made myself drive down their street (a few blocks from our house). Even though they moved only three and a half hours away and we saw each other now and then and talked on the phone, it just wasn't the same.

This past Christmas holiday we were all out having dinner together when Ann announced, "We're moving back!" Unbelievable! Fantastic! Great! I told her I felt like I'd won the lottery -- I was THAT HAPPY! In January Kenny starting working in Plant City again; the rest of the family to move back at the end of the school year. They'd been house shopping several times, though their prosperity had definitely out grown our neighborhood. My husband and I talked about the fun we'd have with them here again and how much fuller our lives would be.

But(isn't there always a "but"? and usually a big one), we got a phone call. Kenny was on life support. We immediately drove the three and 1/2 hours (in about 2 I think) to the hospital where Kenny was in ICU. All the children were there except the two younger ones (6 and 9), Kenny's parents, his sister from New York, local friends. We took turns going back to see him but he was usually so sedated that he was unresponsive. When he did open his eyes and saw both of us he jerked his head back in surprise -- he probably thought "I must really be sick if they are here."

Everyone left except for us, Ann and the children. At 5 a.m. the next morning we followed the ambulance transferring him to a teaching hospital in Miami where they could "save his life." Ann, her oldest daughter and I spent the nights in the ICU waiting room, and our days too but with his parents and some of the other children (did I mention there are six of them?).

Kenny couldn't communicate because he had a respirator tube down his throat. He'd try to talk but we couldn't understand him. One day he was trying to tell me something and I said "are you trying to tell me that you love me?," and he nodded "yes" - though I'm sure he was trying to say something else. Another time he grabbed my husband's hand and held on tight, looking into Steve's eyes for several minutes. I think he was trying to say "take care of my family, buddy, I know you will."

Steve spoke at the first funeral in South Florida; I don't know how he managed it but he did wonderfully. He stood before hundreds of people he did not know and spoke about "My Friend Kenny". (They always referred to each like that. Steve would say to me, "My Friend Kenny called" and likewise Kenny would tell Ann, "My Friend Steve called.") Steve also spoke directly to the children about their Dad, what a wonderful person he was, a great man, husband, father, friend, and how his legacy would live on through them and the many others he had such a powerful, positive influence on.

Kenny was 47 years old. He is buried where he wanted to live -- in Plant City.

A week after Kenny's funeral, Steve lost his job and, of course, his company vehicle. We only had one car and then one income. Ann and her oldest son gave us the car they no longer needed. How much better friends could there ever be? It's my "love mobile" and every time I'm in it I feel the love of this beautiful family. My nickname for Ann has always been Annabelle and since this was their son Andy's car, I've named it "Andybelle".

I've never been one for visiting graves, not even those of my own parents. But I stop by to "see" Kenny about once a week. Though there's only a temporary marker on his grave, right next to it is Steve's Yankee cap (a gift from Kenny). I'd never known of a friendship between two men as unconditional, strong and supportive as that of Kenny and Steve (or Steve and Kenny). I don't think I ever will again.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

She said it best!

Stacy posted a comment to my About Face post --- she explained how "we" feel far better than I ever could. Hopefully she won't mind me posting this on my blog.

"I might be opening up a can of worms here, but here it goes.

It is a different fear that we as parents feel, a different kind of missing them, a different kind of aching in our hearts, a different kind of mourning, a different kind of waiting and waiting on that phone that doesn't ring much because they have spouses and children that they must call before they call parents, but most of all it's a different kind of love that will never change no matter what.

A parent's love can never be measured. We love unconditionally.It's all in the same category, we suffer just like they do. I was fortunate that when my son went to Iraq, I was the one that he always called first and I was the one that he stopped what he was doing whenever he saw me come online, just to talk to me.

It's different but the same. Just one MOM's opinion. Hope I don't make any enemies."

Thank you Stacy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Comments, I LOVE COMMENTS!!!

You would not believe how excited I get when I see the number of comments on my posts increase. Even 1 is a big deal to me. Every time I look a my blog -- which is SEVERAL times a day, I "cross my fingers" that I've got another comment. Hearing from other people means so much to me. So even if you just want to say "hi", please leave me a comment.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

"So Brave"

Sunday Austin left me a short voicemail -- he sounded very emotional and upset. All he said was, "Mamma, I just wanted to tell you I love you."

I'd misplaced my phone and just got his message this morning. It was several hours until I was able to talk to him to see what was wrong. He said everything was "fine, ok, no problems." Then I asked about the voicemail. . .

Well, his girlfriend had made him a cd about soldiers, war, and saying goodbye to Mom. He's such a big, huggy, kind-hearted guy -- the "saying goodbye to Mom" song got to him and he wanted to talk to me. I have bittersweet feelings about missing the call. I would love to have talked to him, especially at that time, but now I have his emotions recorded. I've let all the ladies at work listen to the message so they could hear how much my son loves me. I'm so proud!

Austin didn't have the cd with him and couldn't remember the name of the song. I looked online and found this and it is absolutely beautiful. It might not me THAT song, but it was written by a soldier's mother. The title of the song is "So Brave". The website has stories and pictures. You can hear more of the song here. Go to both w/ a tissue.

Monday, April 2, 2007

No he didn't again...

This is what Mr. Husband said regarding my e-mail to him that Parents ARE FAMILY!

"I was using the Army's terms. Immediate is spouse and kids, extended is everybody else. This has nothing to do with biology or feelings, but who is entitled to live on base and be moved by the Army. You may hate the term, just as for years I hated being called a "dependant', but until the Army changes its lingo you are going to have to live with it. Until then take your complaint to the Pentagon."
And THIS is on a support forum!

Am I being overly sensitive?

I'm going to need ALL the support I can get to make it through this week w/o doing (more) things I might regret. PLEASE e-mail me at work jross (at) everwear (.) net (all together, of course--just trying to avoid the bad guys). THANKS!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

No he didn't!

I joined Stryker Brigade News to connect with others whose family members are deploying with Austin. Here is what a husband had to say in response to my post asking the "group" to share their feelings over the next few days before our soldiers deploy.

"This is one of things that is different for spouses than for extended family."