Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Memorial Day has a different meaning for those who truly stand behind the flag, instead of simply waving it. As a military spouse, I have faced the demon of fear and I will face it again. I have spent sleepless nights, dreading a knock on the door or the simple ring of the telephone. I’ve heard the “I’m okay but something happened” calls. I have helped my children through the stomach-dropping, heart-pumping nausea that those calls produce.

I don’t want to turn my simple little blog into a rant. I know sometimes I will give in to the temptation to stand on my soapbox and (somewhat anonymously) spout off at idiocy, laziness, or other pet peeves. But for now, I won’t. My friends have found some amazing quotes, comments, and thoughts about Memorial Day, so I will use my space for their findings and their words.

“"Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored."

“I am absolutely irritated when I hear people say “Happy Memorial Day”. There is nothing HAPPY about a soldier making the ultimate sacrifice for love of country. There is nothing happy about his or her family back home mourning the terrible loss. IT is not about a three day weekend or phenomenal retail opportunities. IT IS A DAY TO HONOR AND REMEMBER SERVICE MEMBERS WHO HAVE DIED!!”

“Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember, but we should do that daily! Thank A Vet, Thanks someone in uniform for their service now too...and remember the families that have paid the ultimate sacrifice!!! I love my man in uniform and the rest of my family and friends deployed now..TY all for All you do!!!”

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves past it-The American flag flies from the last breath of each military member who has died protecting it, American soldiers don't fight because they hate what's in front of them...they fight because they love what's behind them." ♥ Re-Post this if you Support your Troops.

One Army wife writes a journal—365 Days of Missing You. Today, she wrote the following—

“Day 118 - Today was Memorial Day so I took the kids out to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery to pay their respects to some of our fallen Heroes. There were so many people there, it was nice to see what Memorial Day means to so many. The kids also got a little history lesson when Barron asked if we could lay a flower down for you too. I was happy to explain that there is a big difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Afterward I met with some fellow Army Wives to take the kids swimming. It really was a good day!”

My other military spouse friends will understand this entry for the pride she has, and the guts it takes to face down the devil in a cemetery full of reminders of the ultimate sacrifice. Stories like this are not uncommon, and I hope others will have a new appreciation for what this day means to us as members—military and family—of a group so few have joined.

Friday, May 27, 2011

DNR and a roller coaster ride

Today has been an amazingly up and down day and I am just worn out and tired of it.

UP! We got a nice fat discount on the service for my car! Nice people too.

DOWN! Big G comes home for lunch and says, “My car’s been having issues…”

UP! Big G is in a good mood and hubby is home and so am I.

DOWN! Big G’s car now enters the Do Not Resuscitate time of car life. Big ole DNR. It’s misfiring in one cylinder and fixing the issue properly would cost more than the car is worth, more than twice what we paid for it.

UP! Big G says at least the city where she will be going to college has a good bus system. She is trying to hard not to add to our stress.

DOWN! Have I just added to her stress by telling her more information than I should, or am I preparing her for real life? Ugh.

UP! She and I run an errand together and I so enjoy her company.

DOWN! We didn’t get potatoes. The recipe for tonight calls for potatoes (how I missed that, I have no clue…)

Final UP is that pizza was 50% off and I split the difference by giving the driver a good tip. And so it goes. We will figure things out, and it will be okay, but I’ve had enough of this roller coaster ride.

I’m not writing this as a giant whine (although it may come out that way and I apologize…feel free to leave comments). Little things just push and pull a person more when there are big things going on at the same time. New car needed? With our budget, that becomes a big thing. No potatoes and you’ve already run to the store? Small thing of course but still it pulls at you because you’re already off balance. When there are big issues at stake, sometimes you have to decide what to deal with now (and get pizza) and what needs some time to sink in and be dealt with later.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Sometimes you have to begin by explaining the end. Last week, I joked to my husband that it was Little G’s last day of elementary school hot lunch, and he essentially told me not to start with that @#$%. (For the record, neither of the girls has ever had hot lunch regularly; I know they won’t eat food they don’t like, so they only got hot lunch on days when it was something they liked. Otherwise, sandwiches!) Okay, so I was being silly. We will still be dealing with school lunch, packed and hot, for many years to come. Either directly packing it or at least making sure there are lunch supplies.

But what other lasts are there this season? Today, Little G will get on the big yellow school bus for the last elementary school field trip. I don’t know about you, but middle school and high school field trips are intrinsically different somehow. I remember the “blue bird” vinyl seat in front of me, the titillating thought that we were somehow doing something wrong and getting away with it while ALL THE OTHER KIDS were in school. That feeling, when combined with hormones and other middle school drama, is entirely different somehow. There is a unity in elementary classrooms that later years don’t have.

Tomorrow night, Big G has her last orchestra concert at her high school. I know I’ll cry. The first time she played before an audience, it was a small recital when she was learning piano. Then she played “Beauty and the Beast” for a talent show at her school, and later got permission to play “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” for a Christmas concert at a retirement home. (The retired residents got the joke and everyone was laughing, no worries.) She didn’t start violin until she got to this high school, and it has been her one constant here. I hope she will keep it up in college, but I know she has a lot of plans so this is really my “one last chance” to see her like this. Big G gets so focused, so intent and into the music when she plays. She has a facility with the music that I certainly lack, and an appreciation for so many different types of music that it blows me away. If nothing else, I know that we have given her something special by making sure she’s had this opportunity.

Very rarely do we know when our “last time” with a child is. Last chance to hold hands crossing the street, last in-the-lap snuggle, last air-blown kiss as they leave our car in the drop-off zone. I think about my friends who have lost their children, who will never know the full range of “lasts” and didn’t have any warning at all that there could be such a thing. I am well aware of how blessed we are. I am also aware that these times are precious, that when we are able to foresee a “last time,” we should embrace and enjoy it, marking those moments for posterity just as we would the first smile, first steps, first day of school.

Thanks, Erica-- the book is "Let Me Hold You Longer" and it is part of why I remember to do this. :) It's a sweet book.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Diving In

Summer seems to be a time of tremendous, gradual, yet momentous change for many people. The languid liquidity brought on by the heat hides many of the more obvious changes until it’s September—parents look at their kids and say “wow, you grew three inches!” or “we better get you some glasses”. I’m used to summertime heralding metamorphosis. Summer is, after all, when kids learn to swim and teens learn to drive. People get married, traditionally, as summer begins its most vibrant show, and young men and women often join the Army.

This summer presents itself a little differently, though. One, I have a child heading to college in the fall. Two, my baby girl is embarking on her own journey into the land of lockers and PE. Three, we are facing the challenges and rewards of leaving the only work life my husband has truly known—the US Army. The fact that I am 39 and facing changes of my own seems almost irrelevant in the context of our family changes.

So why not write about it? Why, instead of trying to fool myself into thinking it’s not absolutely huge—why not dive in? Why not celebrate the change and even grieve a little bit for what is past? Instead of gritting my teeth and hiding the tears (joy, pride, wistful reminiscence)—why not smile through them?

So here I am. Diving in. Those who know me well, know that I am not one to dive, nor am I one to rush headlong into anything. But there’s a tidal wave of change, so I better put on my swimsuit and hold on tight. Water wings aren’t going to get me through. J