Monday, December 29, 2008

What a difference a year makes! This time last year our youngest son had gone back to the Wounded Warrior Transition Unit at Ft. Lewis to stay for 11 more months before coming HOME. Now he's a bouncer at an Ybor City nightclub. Our Cpt. had just returned from Iraq; I had just spoken at a West Point grad's funeral (the experience of which still haunts me).

These days I can't even listen to the songs that were popular this time last year.

But we're expecting our first grandson any day now -- he's due in four days!

Our two Army Captains and our medically discharged Specialists are out on my brother's boat while I'm sitting on the couch drinking too much chardonnay --- it's the only thing that keeps me from coughing. Chardonnay and honey. Yesterday they all went the Buc's game but I had to work. It doesn't matter to me -- as long as I know my family members are having a good time.

The photo is our dog Eva surfing the net. She is 1/2 Weimaraner and 1/2 Vizsla. Our Captains brought their Weimaraner with them and he's out on the back porch with Eva. My little Meike is inside with me. She's keeping me company in my drunken stupor to get through this flu bug and loneliness.

The sun has gone down so the boaters should be back soon. They'll be upset with me for being this wasted. But I tried to sleep --- spraying my throat every few minutes with Chloraseptic --- but I still couldn't sleep.

BTW, I'm working at a book store. It is very different from the computer programming I did for so many years but I love it. As soon as I walk out the door I can leave the work behind. And when our daughter goes back to work I can keep my grandson and then go in to work late in the afternoon. Life is good.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thank YOU!

Thank you all for your support of my family during the deployments of our three soldiers! Without all of you "being there," this would have been a much harder journey to endure.

Both of my boys returned from their experiences much humbler men: stronger physically, softer emotionally. They see life differently now than they did before they "saw life lived differently." Austin taught himself to play the guitar while he was in transition. This evening we sat together while he played for me. He's really quite good. Kris and Katie ride their bikes to school, they host tailgate parties before K-State games, no more uniforms.

Soon we'll have another member of our family. And with the birth of our first grandchild comes a whole new set of fears. I think, though, that living through five deployments and having come through in the best of circumstances has taught me a lot about worry. How much more could I have enjoyed life over the past seven years if I had chosen not to worry. How much better a supporter of our soldiers could I have been if I had not been incapacitated with fear? Can a mother chose not to worry in such circumstances? Maybe. Maybe not.

Smiling again is fun! To really, really feel free to laugh and be happy is great. No more black clouds following me around. Yeah! Life is definitely good!

Friday, September 26, 2008


"Our" time in the war has come to a close! Austin is home. He is being medically discharged in a few weeks and was finally able to come home after spending 11 months in Warrior Transition. What a wonderful relief for all of us! I can't put into words how the closing of this chapter feels.

Kris & Katie are in grad school where they want to be and now Austin is home where he wants to be. He's living with Kylee and Cal (and soon the baby). They are building him a room in their garage. After sleeping on the ground in 130 degree heat in Baghdad a room in your sister's garage sounds plush!

Austin surprised me Wednesday evening. He wouldn't tell us when he was going to be able to come home. I knew it would be soon and that at some time, some where he was going to be there. I was having dinner at church and he walked up behind me and said "Hi Mom". What a GREAT surprise! Then I went to Kylee's house and was standing in the baby's room with her when Austin walks in. She did the "double take" then started screaming, jumping up and down and crying. It was priceless.

I took Austin to the VA yesterday and today he and Kylee came over for a few hours. What precious time. He looks so good --- like a bodybuilder. And he's happy and smiling and glad to be home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's A Boy!!!

We're going to have a GrandSON!!!

Ten of us went with Kylee and Cal to Ultrababies Saturday (7/19) for a 20-minute peek-a-boo at "our" little guy. He yawned, stretched and kicked up a storm for the show. What a great experience to share and memory to treasure.

We had already picked out nursery fabrics, paint, etc. for a boy. Guess we just knew. The Mommy and Daddy know what our grandson's name is going to be but they won't tell. I suppose they want to have a surprise for us when he makes his appearance.

Ultrababies is a very chic "store" where the product they sell is ultrasounds. Expectant mommies can go whenever they want --- bring family and friends. We were in a small home theatre-type room with the biggest comfy seating. They served soft drinks, candy, even popcorn (all included in the very reasonable price of $85). Ultrababies has a mobile unit they will take to homes for baby showers. WOW, have things changed!

I have resigned my position as one of two Blue to Gold Liaisons for Florida. It's time to move on for me and mine. We'll always do what we can for the soldiers and their families. Just not the saddest things. Another Blue Star Mother has stepped in --- she lost her brother in Iraq and this will be a very important mission for her as well.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Found on

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Where will you have YOUR 4th of July picnic? WE are FREE to celebrate -- remember those who paid the price.

The family of Army Sgt. First Class Shawn C. Dostie visit his grave at Arlington (Google image).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Back To Work!

Just a short post --- I start my new job Monday! This one feels like the right one (but, hey, I've been wrong before). Crystal Reports Analyst in an IT rather than Marketing setting (less BS). I'm excited about this particular opportunity and I need to get back to work before I forget how to use a computer for something other than blogging, shopping and e-mail.

So I'm off to lunch with a few former co-workers (I will be working 20 minutes to the West now, rather than 20 minutes to the East so I won't be able to see them very often). BTW, the new HR mgr (where I used to work) lasted three days!!! hahahahahahahahahahaha

Thursday, June 19, 2008


My "men" having smokes in Ybor City. Notice Kris pinching T.O.M. (The Old Man)'s ear. Not a lot of hair among the three of them -- but sooo much HEART!

This morning I woke up just feeling so proud of my family. Maybe it's because I'm finally winding down from all the events of the last few years. My sons REALLY are out of danger, my daughter is thrilled being pregnant, I'm thrilled that I'm going to be a granny, I love not working.

I'm leaving in a few minutes to drive down south to visit my friend Ann and her gaggle of children for few days. One reason for the trip is to return the car to her that she GAVE to us last year after Steve was laid off and lost his company car. It's an Isuzu Rodeo that gets great gas mileage. She's going to use it to do her running around in rather than her huge Expedition. It feels really good to be able to give it back.

I'm giddy with "happy" and I'm having the time of my life right now! (Thanks T.O.M.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This Old House --- My Old Body

As I've mentioned before, our house was built in 1922; I was built in 1955. Oh my aching body. I've been down on my hands and knees painting the plank floor boards in our bedroom --- and this is just the primer. When we pulled up the avocado green, sculpted carpet from the 60s the floors were not in good enough condition to refinish. But they are going to look amazing painted.

Monday and Tuesday I helped my sister-in-law start organizing her home office --- this will take much longer than painting my floor. She has two businesses and years and years of paperwork in boxes and boxes. It must have been the time I spent sitting on her floor that messed up my neck and shoulders. Today it's hard to even move. Now the floor painting is going to put me back to bed! OR IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN FROM PLAYING "Mysteries of London" on my laptop for hours last night!

For anyone who read my post on the tornadoes, K&K have decided to sell their house now instead of next year as they had planned. So many homes were destroyed in Chapman, but theirs was untouched. Hopefully a family who lost their home will be able to move in to K&Ks in a short time. K&K will move to Manhattan where they attend grad school at Kansas State. The bonus is they'll save a lot of money on gas driving between school and home.

This photo shows a house in Chapman that is missing its front but the lace is still in place on the mantle.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I choose my former boss!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My oldest son and his wife live in Chapman, Kansas (about 20 miles from Ft. Riley). A tornado did major damages to their tiny little town last night. K&K live a little bit outside of town; their home was not damaged and they are both fine. They spent today in Manhattan, Kansas helping friends clean up from tornado damage in that town. Kansas State University where K&K attend grad school sustained (according to one news source) $20 million in damage. The photo on the right shows some of the damage in Chapman. Thehe aerial footage available online shows that most of Chapman looks like this.

The much sadder news, of course, is the four Boy Scouts who were killed by a tornado in Iowa. Good kids doing good things and they were killed.


It has been verified --- I am NOT a whiny "quitter". The State of Flori
da has determined that:

ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE EMPLOYER." The "Notice of Determination" was in today's mail and my first three weeks' of unemployment were already in my bank account!



Advice I used that I found on the internet:

  1. Peanut butter really will remove the sticky stuff left after a label is soaked off a bottle. You need to leave the PB on for a few minutes or so then scrub it off.
  2. Cleaning the lint screen on your dryer WILL apparently extend the life cycle of the appliance. I read somewhere that if you run water over the lint screen, it kind of puddles and doesn't go through, supposedly as the result of using dryer sheets. Put a little soap and water on the screen, scrub lightly with a brush and that's it. I'll have to get another dryer and wait a few years to see if it actually makes it last longer. But I'll have to keep using the one I have until it breaks and let the new dryer catch up, or something like that.

Wanted: an old, small water tower just like the one in the photo on the right. I'm really into historic things and have lately become fascinated with water towers. I've also developed an interest in typography (illustrated in the dual-purpose image on the left -- it's a "wanted poster" AND an example of typography; are ya with me?)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

But for some it does not . . .

Florida lost three American Heroes this week:

Pfc. Andre D. McNair, Jr., 20, Ft. Pierce, Florida,
was killed in an accidental helicopter crash in Afghanistan on June 5, 2008.

Army Pfc. Andre McNair Jr.’s dream of being a pilot fell from the sky [and] ended last week in a helicopter crash at the Kandahar Army Airfield in Afghanistan.

“He really wanted that pilot’s license,” his father, Andre McNair of Fort Pierce, said Monday afternoon. “He really wanted to fly.”

McNair Jr.’s mother, Pam McNair, said her son was “looking to make a career out of the military. He was going to re-enlist so that he could become a pilot.”


Spc. Quincy J. Green, 26, died in Iraq on June 2, 2008. "Spc. Green graduated from Orange Park High School where one of his favorite classes was NJROTC. While at OPHS he was also the football team’s mascot, 'Raider Man'. While in Iraq Quincy was a Chaplain's Assistant. Quincy was looking forward to coming home to be able to spend time with is 2 year old and 8 month old daughters."

This photo of Spc. Green with his daughter is so beautiful and yet so sad. If you study their two faces, their resemblance is amazing. I'm sure he was a proud Daddy.

Ssg. Enoch "Blake" Adams, Brooksville, Florida, died at Ft. Polk, Louisiana on June 2, 2008. Staff Sgt. Adams was a physician's assistant student at Ft. Polk's Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital. The following information was provided to me by Ssg. Adams' father James Adams.

Enoch “Blake” Adams
Staff Sergeant U. S. Army
October 30, 1969 – June 2, 2008

Enoch “Blake” Adams was born in Naples, FL, and came to Hernando County in 1973. Blake attended Hernando schools through the 9th grade and graduated high school from Melbourne Air Force Academy. He was a graduate of Stetson University (1991) and the Texas Chiropractic College (1994). While in Brooksville he was a member of the former West Jefferson Baptist Church. He enlisted in the United States Army in October 1998.

In his early military career, he served at Fort Hood, Texas as a M1A2 Abrams tank loader and unit armorer; and was deployed to Bosnia with the A/1-12th Calvary. He also served with Headquarters, Headquarters Command, 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey, South Korea. When he returned from Korea, he was assigned to B/3-66th Armor, 4th Infantry Division at Ft Hood. While assigned to the 4th ID, he deployed to Camp Lancer, Iraq.

After completing his assignment with the 4th ID, he was selected to serve as an Army Recruiter and was stationed with the Riverside Company, Southern California Battalion from 2004 – 2006. Blake applied for and was accepted to the Physician Assistant Program. From August 2006 - October 2007, he completed his academic studies at Fort Sam Houston, Texas’ Interservice Physician Assistant Program, class 3-06. In October 2007 he was assigned to Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital for the clinical phase of the PA Program.

Blake’s awards and decorations include Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Good Conduct Medal third award; NCO Professional Development Ribbon; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Overseas Service Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Defense Service Medal; and the NATO Medal.

Survivors include his wife: Lori Scott-Copeland Adams of Bradenton, FL; father: James F. Adams of Brooksville; brother: Warren James Adams of Jacksonville; FL; and, step mother Barbara Gawor Adams of Brooksville.

On behalf of the Blue Star Mothers, I will present Gold Star Banners to the family of Ssg. Adams. His funeral service will be held Saturday, June 14, 2008, 1:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, Brooksville, Florida.

Pfc. McNair's funeral will be held Saturday, June 14, 2008 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Ft. Pierce. The Casualty Assistance Officer for the McNair family has graciously offered to present the Gold Star Banners to this family on behalf of the Blue Star Mothers.

Judy Edwards, the Jacksonville BSM Chapter President, will present Gold Star Banners to the family of Spc. Green at his funeral in Jacksonville on Friday, June 13, 2008.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Power of Proud American People

"Granite Grok's Dope of the Week Award"

Claude Roessiger, an executive of Pak 2000, sued the town of Wolfeboro, NH this week over the public display of American Flags on town-owned property. He has since dismissed the lawsuit but is still experiencing the wrath of many proud Americans. Note the 'disclaimer' by the company on its website. My suggestion was that Mr. Roessiger apologize [while standing in front of the local VFW] holding a huge American Flag --- a perfect pie in the face opportunity (and make it a good ol' American Apple Pie).

Here is the original posting on

This was brought to my attention by another Blue Star Mom. She is part of the infamous group recently referred to in the press as "Moms of Fury" -- mothers who are proud to STAND UP and STAND OUT for America and our military.

Friday, May 30, 2008

My New Ride!

OK, OK -- I know I don't have a job! But I do have a new car to drive when I get one!!! Actually it's 'new to me' (a/k/a used) and I love it!

We bought the car from a really sweet family who live 70 or so miles away. They were delightful to work with on the sale and we enjoyed meeting them when we picked it up. This was certainly a much better experience than buying through a dealership. I really enjoy meeting nice people.

I'm still trying to find my "purpose". Being creative, especially sewing, would be great. Today I remade an old shower curtain into a window curtain for the bathroom. There's a lot of stuff online about "redux" -- re-purposing discarded or outdated things into new stuff (a/k/a recycling). I have another old shower curtain of really soft waffle weave cotton. It'll make a great throw for my Kylee's sofa. I'm going to start taking before and after photos for online tutorials on my new (so far imaginary) craft blog.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We've All Got To Have A Little Fun (rated-R)

This is Patriotic in a different kind of way. LOL!

Friday, May 16, 2008


Looks like I'm going to start a website on SquareSpace.

MOVIE -- Lions for Lambs

I just watched Lions for Lambs "On Demand" -- I had never heard of this movie until my husband rented it tonight. I'd have thought such a well done and timely film would have been the topic of conversations and blog posts. Or maybe I just haven't been paying attention.

When the movie started I tried to ignore it (busy "Stumbling" online). It grabbed me when soldiers were being killed. Usually I leave the room when that happens (ostrich syndrome); but I could see there was a meaningful story being told.

Here's the synopsis from The recommendations "If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends: X-Men, Spider Man, Transformers" ??? Huh?

Anyway, it's a good movie.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Please view this "trailer" for the upcoming video "Warriors. . .in their own words". Be prepared to weep.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sgt. Marcus C. Mathes, KIA Iraq (also served in Afghanistan), April 28, 2008, laid to rest Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell, Florida, May 7, 2008.

Yesterday I attended Sgt.
Mathes' funeral in Dade City, Florida. In a private meeting with the family, the Brigadier General sent from Ft. Drum and the Lt. Col. serving as CAO for Julia Mathes, Sgt. Mathes' widow, presented the Purple Heart to Julia and flags in engraved boxes to his parents. I made the Blue Star presentation to Sgt. Mathes' mother, father and to Julia.

The Patriot Guard riders stood proud as they always do --- what a great group of people. I'm getting to know them better at each funeral though I wish I would never see them again. Billboy offered me the back seat of his motorcycle again but this time I didn't "seize the day." As soon as the procession started I wished that I had. Next time I will. I wish there would never be a next time.

Sgt. Mathes' mother invited me to attend a Celebration of Life event for her son next Saturday. I told her that I would be there and I will. She was very composed throughout the services, as most parents are. Being a mother for 20+ years teaches us that life
isn't fair, that we can't change things like this, that we must be strong; we grieve alone. The young widows are always racked with sobbing and I know they are thinking, "Why, why, why." When my father died when I was 34 it felt that if I could just cry hard enough, long enough, exhaust myself with grief, that he would come back. When my mother died four years later I knew no amount of tears would ease my pain or produce a miracle.

Sgt. Mathes' father and I talked about "getting it" --- how people outside the military community just don't "get it." They don't understand why these men and women willingly sacrifice their own lives so that others can live free. Mr. Mathes and I "get it" --- because we know soldiers, we know heroes. In his last e-mail, Sgt. Mathes wrote: "I am having a blast over here." It was the same with my boys. They loved what they were doing and were proud to do it. I was fortunate to have both of my sons safely return to the USA. Not so for too many families.

In Warriors, one of the soldiers says, "because I can." That's why I will continue to attend every soldier's funeral -- because I can.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Life In The Slow Lane

I LOVE NOT WORKING! I know I can't get too comfortable staying home, but for a few weeks I'm going to revel in it! it okay to hit the wine at 6 pm on a weekday? Yep, I think it is.

My resume is almost ready to start posting. There is a job exactly suited to me on Monster. That's where I got the last job. I did learn a lot at the "mean people place" so it wasn't an entirely bad experience. Hopefully I still have a few of the friends I made there. No more humiliation, though. Every job I've ever had has ended up with some kind of bad feeling. It must be me because I'm the only common denominator. I'm learning. Old dog -- old tricks. I blame my mother.

Every time a DOD announcement comes through my e-mail I cringe. Sometimes I want to walk away from this responsibility. But if I do then someone else has to take it on. It is very depressing for a depressed person to constantly be dealing with death. Especially the death of other military parents' children. "There but for the grace of God . . ." But what saved mine?Speaking of "mine," here's The Photo (preggie is in the middle, obviously). Isn't it funny? That's Kris by the groom, looking like he has a gigantic headache, and Austin, far right. Kris is 6', my husband is 6'2", so you can imagine how HUGE Austin is. He works out constantly now that he is in the Wounded Troops Program. If only they'd just let him COME HOME! That's when I will really feel relieved -- when Austin is home in Our Town!

Grandmother stuff: she had her first dr. apptmt. today and the little one is due Jan 2, 2009. We will hope for a 2008 tax deduction, but have so many "Christmas" birthdays already. So far the concept of a baby coming our way is too surreal. I think that and having abruptly quit my job has my head spinning. Or is it the wine?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Take This Job And Shove It"

I wish I'd thought to say "take this job and shove it" yesterday at work when I finally had "ENOUGH", packed my stuff and went home. Mean people suck but I don't have to work for them.

More importantly, I'm going to be a GRANDMOTHER!!!! Our daughter who got married in Jan. is expecting a baby in Jan. 09!!!!


SADLY there have been six soldiers from Florida killed in Iraq since April 1, the date I took over the duties of arranging Gold Star Banner presentations on behalf of the Florida Blue Star Mothers. Since I was unable to attend any of the funerals other wonderful people made the presentations.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Today my mother-in-law was buried next to her "only love" --- my husband's father, who died 32 years ago. "Mamaw" had left specific instructions about her funeral service which were followed to the letter. The service was very simple yet very beautiful. I've never sang Amazing Grace with so much "feeling" before. Not having been blessed with a singing voice, I usually sing very softly -- for the benefit of those around me -- but not today.

My mother-in-law had "suffered" from Alzheimer's disease for five to six years. She'd been a very independent woman until her first symptoms appeared. But what she really suffered from was her family; her own children and grand children. Most families who have had a loved one with Alzheimer's know that most of the suffering is done by the family; the Alzheimer's "sufferer" is usually in a "happy place."

My mother-in-law was a dear, sweet woman. Her faith in God never wavered. She would do anything for anybody in the name of God. In our small town she was known as "that sweet Midge Ross."

We, her family, did not always serve her well. Without bringing skeletons out of the closed, I will say that my mother-in-law was not blessed with "good" children. Her daughter abused her emotionally and financially until the day of her death (March 20, 2008); her son, my husband, put her through "hell" during his addictive years --- before we met. Perhaps worst of all, I abused her by disassociating myself and my family from her daughter's family because of my own set of ideals and standards; my "code of honor," if you will.

When my two sons were in Iraq at the same time in 07, it occurred to me that perhaps it was that "code", those very ideals and standards, my unsuppressable need for justice passed on to my children, that put them in to harm's way. I have always had such a strong sense of right versus wrong, good versus evil; my life has been (figurative, never literally) black or white with NO shades of gray. That's not to say that I have lived any where near a perfect life--- very far from it.

Inherited from my father is my need to give. If I see someone in need, I will stop and try to help them (which really makes my husband angry). If I learn of a financial hardship, I will do what I can to provide resources. On a trip years ago to New York City, I saw a homeless man across the street and tried so hard to give him the 1/2 of my turkey sandwich I had in a to-go box from the "All Star Sports Cafe" on Times Square (his homeless/my extravagance). He didn't want my sandwich. When the family and friends who were with me saw what I was doing they ran across the street to "save me." I just wanted to save the homeless man. Or at least ease his hunger pains.

In my opinion, no one should ever hold themselves up as "better than" anyone else based on their financial status, job, material possessions, the automobile they drive. NO ONE is any better than anyone else -- Period.

Maintaining these standards and ideals has not always served me well. I have burned many bridges because people have violated "my" code. My husband's sister and her family not only violated "my" code, but society's "rules" of decent behavior.

In my mind they became people with whom who I could not allow myself or my (albeit "grown") children to associate (though they make their own decisions). We tried over the years to be examples for this family, we provided financial assistance to them, we "mentored" them, we tolerated as much as we could. We reached a point where "enough was enough."

Yet, I myself violated my own "code" by not spending holidays with my mother-in-laws' family; thus causing her heartache. All she asked of us in the last few years was "to just get along." But too much had been said, done, allowed to happen. Was it worth it for me and mine to stand firm if the result was to deny a sweet old woman a few hours of pleasure with all of her family by her side a few times a year. Probably not. Definitely not. I stand ashamed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sad Times

You all will remember Kayli, Austin's girlfriend before, during and for a short while after his deployment. She's such a sweetie and I felt so bad they didn't stay together. She and I are still in touch and I'm sorry to tell you that Kayli lost her father yesterday.

We had been IM'ing on Sunday and she knew it "wouldn't be long," but he went very quickly early Monday morning. Kayli is relieved that her Dad is no longer suffering and assures me that she and her sister have lots of family and friends to help them out with whatever they need. Kayli was definitely "Daddy's girl." She spent three years attending college in Kansas on a basketball scholarship but went home when her father became ill. He had gotten better and she went back to school Fall 07, only to have to return home at the start of her last semester. She's diligently finishing her classes by e-mail and will graduate in May.

My heart is breaking for her. We talked on the phone yesterday afternoon and for a 22 year old who just lost her father she is handling it remarkably well. She'll still need lots of comfort and strength as she gets accustomed to live without her Dad.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Parental Post Deployment Distress Syndrome

Today was Parade Day in our town. I took the day off to watch the parade with friends I've watched it with for many, many years. Our church youth group always sells "chairs", snacks and drinks in this particular spot to earn money for their summer trips. So many past Parade Days me and my kids were the "workers", though usually one or the other of them were in the parade. It was a bit sad to walk down there by myself, without them.

But worse was when the High School ROTC marched by. As soon as I saw them come in to view I turned my back and said to the two friends I was talking to, "this is going to make me cry." Cry was too mild a word to describe what happened to me. I did cry, heavingly so, and I trembled and became lightheaded. These two friends patted me on the back and said soothing things and it (and the ROTC) passed in just a few minutes.

It is hard to say exactly what about seeing those young people in their Army ROTC uniforms set off this "event." Was it a reminder of the years that Kris and Austin were in the ROTC and that I miss them so much? Was it the reality that some of those cadets would soon be joining the "real" Army and going off to war? Was it just a reminder of the military that got too close to me? Or a longing for my life when all of my children were home and I was Mom?

Most likely it was a combination of all of these and possibly more. "Parental Post Deployment Distress Syndrome" is what it felt like. Not to diminish the very serious PTSD suffered by those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I believe that I, and many mothers who have lived through one or more deployments, also experience residual suffering.

In total, as a mother and a mother-in-law, I have "survived" five deployments; the last with both of my sons in Iraq at the same time. Mothers cannot endure such emotional distress during the deployment(s) and have it just vanish when our children are back safe in the US. We just can't do it. Yes, the fear of impending tragedy goes away as soon as they return. But the experience of living in complete fear for so long leaves emotional scars on all of us.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No News Is Still Good News

Since I haven't posted in an entire month, you know there have been no soldiers' funerals in Florida. Unfortunately there were three lost who were from Florida but their services were held elsewhere.

Sorry to drop the blog, but it has become an uncomfortable place to "return to."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Bitter-Sweet Day

Post Script: I'm dressed now and ready to go, let's get in the car, I know you can all fit in the passenger seat. Please go read this amazing poem written by my friend Jan Zabel (she's British but I love her anyway).

Kylee and Cal will be home soon from their honeymoon. My husband just left to pick them up at the airport. Hopefully they'll want to open their presents here with us before going to their house. I've really missed them this long week. I always turn to Kylee when I need anything -- encouragement, hugs, smile, fun, love, help. . . all week I've "turned to her" but she's not been there. She's been having a fantastic time cruising the Eastern Caribbean all week with her husband. (Now that sounds weird --- "husband").

So we'll have fun and laughs with them for a while and then I'm off to yet another soldier's funeral.

I'm typing this post "as I go." I'm printing information to include in the condolence packages for the family of Fallen Hero Army Specialist Richard B. Burress.

NAPLES, Fla. — A 25-year-old soldier whose family said he joined the army to add “focus and direction” to his life was killed in Iraq after his vehicle was struck by an explosive, officials said Jan. 21.

Spc. Richard B. Burress, of Naples, died Jan. 19 in Al Jabour, Iraq, the Department of Defense said.

Family members said Burress enjoyed the “simple things” in life — fishing, canoeing and spending time with loved ones, including his daughter, Alyssa.

“His easygoing manner and natural warmth instantly endeared [him] to all who met him,” his family said in a statement.

Burress was “a reluctant hero,” his family said, who “didn’t want to be recognized for his service and was deeply touched by the many thanks he received from strangers.”

Burress was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, out of Fort Stewart, Ga. (from the Associated Press article).

I can only attend the visitation with this grieving family since my employer does not approve of me taking time off to attend the funerals -- Spc. Burress' funeral is tomorrow, a Monday, a no-no to my employer. I don't get it. From my personal experience with loss, the visitation is easier to get through for the family while the final goodbyes of the burial are almost an incomprehensible blurr. I still would like to be there. Not long ago I stood about 20 feet from a mother who was "supported" by a Brigadier General and a Major --- they let her fall to the ground. Now I stand closer.
Never having studied poetry but having heard the Robert Frost line "I have miles to go before a sleep," I've 325 miles to drive, tears to shed, words to be read, condolences to spread, before I go to bed; yet safely I will return to mine and you to yours, their dear son, well, he . . . enough said. So ride with me and take whatever comfort we can to this grieving family.
They send another son off to Iraq in a few weeks.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Well, we had a wedding!

One that anyone in attendance will likely never forget! This post is worth reading, so keep going.

My best friend Ann and three of her daughters came up from South Florida to spend the weekend with me and worked so hard to make everything perfect. Kylee's mother-in-law went beyond what is expected of the mother of the groom. She and HER mother made all the bouquets, the boutonnières, pew bows, table clothes -- she even made her son's vest. My sister-in-law and a friend were at my house to help Kylee and all the girls get pretty. The photographers came over and took photos of the various stages of readiness.

When we left the house I kept saying "I don't want it to be over." All the months of preparation and anticipation culminate in one precious evening. I wanted the emotion I was feeling to last longer than that.

We all got to the church on time! When most of the guests were seated we played "What A Wonderful World" (recorded by Louis Armstrong) to let everyone know the wedding was about to begin. The grandmothers and mothers were seated to "Over the Rainbow" (recorded by Ray Charles and Johnny Mathis). Then our friend Lori sang "In My Daughter's Eyes" which has been Kylee and my "mother/daughter" song for years. Kylee made me a garden stepping stone imprinted with "In My Mother's Eyes."

The bridal party came in as couples to "Your Guardian Angel" then the guys went to the right, girls to the left, and the most precious flower girl ever spinkled petals down the aisle. Kylee's brother Kris "gave her away", walking down the aisle to "Smother Me". Kris tried so hard not to cry but he was obviously very emotional.

Kylee has a great relationship with our pastor and he knew just how to keep her as calm as possible. Kylee and Cal exchanged vows and rings and everything was truly magical. The pastor gave his "wedding talk" and was just about to pronounced them husband and wife when DOWN went one of the groomsmen! And I mean DOWN! I listened to the recording of the wedding today and the sound of this young man's head hitting the floor is so loud it's amazing he didn't suffer brain damage.

Kris was sitting behind me. He ran up to help out and it took him and Austin to carry this guy out of the sanctuary because he was out cold and just dead weight --- all 6'5" of him. When he passed out Kylee said "You've got to be kidding; that was supposed to be you" (in an 'I can't believe that just happened' tone of voice) because we all thought Cal would be whoozy and might faint. Cal was great and didn't even seem nervous.

While Alan (let's call him Alan) was being carried out, the pastor said a prayer for him that he would regain consciousness and be able to attend the rest of the wedding. Oh no, he was off to the hospital! We didn't see him again.

Not 20 seconds after the ceremony continued, Cal's sister falls over straight forward and lands on top of the aforementioned precious flower girl. She landed on her chin which busted open and her makeup left a face print on Kylee's train. The poor little flower girl starts crying very loudly because she's just been scared and smooshed. Kylee is sobbing at the alter and everything is out of control.

When I listened to the cd the sound of Kylee's desperate cries just broke my heart -- again. I had gone up to the altar and tried to calm her down but didn't do much good. The pastor quieted everyone down (again), pronounced them husband and wife, told Cal "a kiss would be good right now" and everybody clapped wildly.

Cal had proposed to Kylee at a Hello Goodbye concert to "their" song "It is love". After the pastor "introduced them," this song played and they more or less ran out of the sanctuary --- but to a standing ovation. Kylee was livid! I was stunned and felt like it had to be a bad dream. Five days later I can look back and remember the "good parts" and having the recording helps (except the "bad parts"). I'm going to have the cd copied to have the "bad parts" edited out. It really was a beautiful wedding.

We had a reception at the church with tons of yummy food. A good friend played guitar, harmonica and sang. He even wrote a song just for Kylee and Cal. Unfortunately it took so long for the wedding party to get composed that we were only in the reception for about 15 minutes. Next they got into the limo (a 14-passenger Excursion) for the drive to Tampa where they all were finally able to let loose and enjoy themselves. I called during the trip and they were definitely having fun!

We had reserved the third floor of an Italian restaurant in a crazy part of town, had an open bar, more food, loads of fun; then Cinderella and her Prince had the limo to themselves for the ride to their hotel.

Since there was extra room, Steve and I got to ride in the limo back home --- I love limos!
Please ignore the dirty feet and my Spanx that are showing!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Gratitude Campaign

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why Are People Mean?

Why do people treat each other badly? I guess if we knew exactly why and could fix it we could end all wars and there really would be Peace on Earth.

I had to issue another Mean Person Ticket yesterday. Again to my new boss. I know I'm going to cry while I type this but I probably need to cry anyway --- and I definitely need to write about it.

Yesterday I was finally into the giggly happiness of anticipating my daughter's wedding next Saturday. The ladies I work with were sharing the gaiety with me and I was sure from that time forward every day would be extraordinarily fun. There were some things on my desk I needed to keep in a file for "wedding stuff" and since we're remodeling the offices I couldn't find a file folder to use. I had a cute gift bag in a drawer so I put these things in the bag and stuck a note on the outside "wedding".

Well, being one to never miss an opportunity to be silly and have a little fun, I looked at the bag and the note and I thought --- I'll just write "fund $$ please help" under "wedding" and put the bag next to my desk. Several people walked by, saw the bag, laughed, made a comment such as "I hope you like peanut butter and jelly because that's what you're going to be eating for the next year after paying for two weddings." Then the Sea Hag walked by.

Let me digress...the Sea Hag is a very angry woman whose sole pleasure in life is talking badly about other people. Unfortunately the Sea Hag is very good at Kissing A-s-s and has the new boss thinking she is not evil, and that the rest of are either lesbians, liars, stupid or useless AND perhaps now that I'm an extortionist.

A few minutes after the Sea Hag walked by, the new boss comes to my desk, grabs the bag, throws it in my lap and says very sternly, "Jo Ann, we can't be doing THIS." I said to her retreating back as she storms away, "IT IS A JOKE!". Now keep in mind what the new boss said to me when I asked for an afternoon off to take Austin to the airport after his post-Iraq leave. "I suggest that you take some time to contemplate your commitment to this company and your job. . .we'll meet on ____ for you to give me your decision."

After speaking with a few members of management, I sent this e-mail to the new boss:

I don’t think you handled the “money bag” situation appropriately. Everyone knew it was a joke and it was in no way intended as solicitation. It was just additional humor I was enjoying in anticipation of my daughter’s wedding.

I am a grown woman who has been in the work force for over 30 years and with this company for almost four. I would appreciate being treated in a professional manner.

to which she responded:

Apparently not “everyone” knew it was a joke. I got a complaint about the “money bag”. As far as being professional, I think telling you that we couldn’t do that was in no way unprofessional. What is not appropriate is to have a “money bag” asking for donations for your daughter’s wedding on top of the Partitions in the office – joke or not. (my emphasis)

And we wonder why there is global warming.

Supplement: I found this over at "Running on Empty" --- It's going in a frame on my desk. Next time the boss comes by, I'll be ready for her!

Oh No,,,,,,,,,,,its BOHICA TIME!!

(bend over, here it comes again!)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Winter is on the Way!!!

This morning it was 74 degrees when I got up . . . by tomorrow morning it will be in the low 30s and by Thursday morning DOWN TO 29 DEGREES!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!

Happy New Year!!!! I'm certainly hoping 2008 is better than 2007 was.

Kris & Katie will be here in good ol' PC this week! They are driving their "Harley" truck all the way from Kansas to retrieve their Harley that Steve has "babysat" since Aug 2006. Steve will miss that "Fat Boy". Too bad, so sad. After our experience w/ Jorge I wish none of them would ever ride motorcycles again.

We haven't seen Kris since he returned to the US. They'll stay about a week, drive back to Kansas and then will fly back here a week later for Kylee's wedding. Strange, I know, but Katie has to get back for grad school during that 'tween week. It will be so good to see them both and know they will be "safe" for at least five years. I best be gettin' some grandkids soon too!

I'm sad to say that Austin and Kayli broke up. She's a very sweet girl and I hope we stay in touch for a while. I haven't talked to either of them about the break up but I think it was mostly geographical. Austin has lived in Florida all of his life (other than while in the Army) and as soon as he is discharged he's coming right back to PC. All of Kayli's family is in Washington State and that will always be home for her.

17 days until the wedding! I'm going to cry. . . boo hoo. More later.