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.