Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Service and Sacrifice

While my daughter was on leave this summer she shared a story with us that reminded me that there is STILL some good in this world.  

Ashley and several of her shipmates were traveling from Chicago to Meridian, MS, but had to lay over in Atlanta. The kids had a 2-hour wait and were basically running on no sleep so they set out to find a Starbucks to load up on caffeine to get them through the next leg of their journey. 

The kids walked into Starbucks, all 7 or 8 of them, and placed their orders. In the process of placing their orders a man came into the cafe and pushed his way to the front of the line in front of the kids. They were all wondering what the heck this guy was doing. 

Ashley said the man blocked the Sailors from paying for their purchase, he told the cashier,  "I've got this, all of them" and proceeded to pay for ALL of their drinks and snacks. 

He walked up to each of them and shook their hand and told them, "It's the least I can do for you for what you're doing for us, thank you".  And then he left. 

This single act of appreciation had such a profound impact on these kids. They all just stood there staring at each other like "What the heck just happened?". They had experienced their first act of gratitude from a total stranger. And it was this total stranger who restored my faith in my fellow man. As my daughter shared the story, I had tears running down my face. People come up to her, total strangers, and hug her or shake her hand and thank her. I don't know if they are Democrat or Republican, all I know is... for at least just this once, we are in unity and agree and our hearts are all in the same place. 

I've been feeling kind of down lately. I chalk it up to all of the negative things that wash over us every day via the news media as well as the hate and discontent amongst my fellow countrymen. it seems that no one agrees on anything these days and it isn't just a matter of disagreeing, it's so volatile.

Believe what you want, but if you're going to believe it, at least make sure that what you're believing is the truth and based on facts. So FEW people do that these days. Don't be a pawn in a game none of us are destine to win, but instead only the politicians who use our differences to separate us.

I am a military mom and a police wife. I have a daughter in the United States Navy who is serving two tours in Yokosuka, Japan , a son who is enlisting in the Air Force upon high school graduation and a husband who has given 32 years (still giving too) of his life to protecting and serving at just about every level of law enforcement. The pride I feel when I talk about my family can't be measured in words, you need only look in my eyes to know how very proud I am of them. I believe I have earned the right to brag about all 3 of them and most of the time, I just can't help but do so. :)

I know there are many military and police families out there that feel the same way I do. Yet, when people get together all they can focus on is their difference of opinions. We owe our troops more than that right now, we owe them unity. Only a military family knows how tough it is to be away from the one you love. Only a police wife knows what it's like to lay awake at night until she hears that car pull up in the driveway telling her he's home safe another night. And only a military mother knows how hard it is to watch her baby go off to serve their country, usually thousands of miles away from home and mom's help.

Today, I just want to ask all my readers to take a moment to be thankful for those who have made the sacrifice and are serving at home and abroad to keep us safe and ensure our freedoms. Freedom isn't free, those of us who love these selfless individuals know that only too well...

Here is a video that makes me forget the difference of opinion I have with my neighbors, this video reminds me we are ALL in this together!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Back To School Already? Memory making Time!

Well, for some of us it is!

For me, this means my most favoritist (my own word) time is RIGHT around the corner...AUTUMN!!!!

I only have one kid left at home, my nest is emptying pretty quickly. Actually, it's emptying a little faster than I was ready for, but this is life and I am taking it like a true champ, at least until my son leaves and then I'm not sure what I'm going to do with myself.

My son is an academic genius. He counts the days from the last day of school before summer break right up until the final 24 hours of the first-day of school. Most of his friends are the same way, they all look forward to being back in school. In this day and age, that's not a bad thing. My son started driving this summer and had a few firsts. .

  • He ran his firsts errands for me
  • He's had his first grocery shopping trip because mom is working 12 hours on a new client  
  • He had his first go out with friends to the movies and the mall adventure
  • He had his first fight with me about the car
  • He asked me for gas money already
  • He had his first "I'm going to be late" required text
  • He had his first curfew

It's really weird to not have to be driving him all over the place. It's even weirder knowing that I don't have to play taxi driver this year for Key Club, foot ball games, Academy Club and a gazillion other after-school activities. I'm really going to miss it and I regret the times I took the 15 mile round trip to and from school for granted - rushed to get back to whatever mundane chore was awaiting me at the house. I listened to their days activities with one ear. Those 20+ minutes with my kids were precious moments I'll never get back. I'm going to savor the moments I've got left. Man, where did all the time go? Has 22 years gone by that quickly already? *sigh*

Since Ashley left for Japan (By the way she is doing GREAT!), Louie and I only have each other most days. Mike works crazy shifts and when he's home the property keeps him plenty busy. Louie is always the one to jump into my Facebook wall fights over politics and other current issues and let me tell you something, you do NOT want to mess with this kid when it comes to politics...if you do, you had better have your facts and lots of them and they had better be from reputable sources else he'll call you to the carpet and you'll think you're fighting with a public administration professor. My son is the future president! HA!

Anyway, enough bragging about Louie, I'm sure I'll hear about how I mentioned him in my blog. the point I'm trying to make is that it's so easy to let the chaos that builds up to back-to-school rob you of time you'll sorely miss in a few years. It takes a mom of almost grown and gone teens to bring these hard learned lessons to those who are traveling the path behind us. Please, heed the message well. I promise you'll regret it if you don't.

I'm getting melancholy in my old age. I find myself watching television shows or listening to songs and tears spring into my eyes as I remember days gone by. It hurts.  But then, during my weekly call to Ashley in Japan I hear tears in her voice as she says "Mommy, I miss you, I wish I were home". My heart fills and I know that even though she's off on her magnificent adventure, she still loves me and misses me as much as I miss her. My baby wishes she was home with her mama. She didn't forget me and her heart still longs for home.

Home. A haven at the top of a mountain surrounded by the most majestic, beautiful mountains and nature that one could hope for. That's the physical description. But home for us is traditions and values that have knitted my children to this place that heals the heart and restores the soul. Home is getting ready for the autumn decorating, visiting the pumpkin patch (we STILL do it!), harvesting the garden, and running outside to smell the smoke from the fireplace on the first night cool enough to light them. Home is the smell of apples and cinnamon I fill the house with in fall, our trip to the orchard and the childlike excitement that leads up to the Christmas holiday season, the most anticipated time of our year. Not for religious reasons, but for the traditions they've both come to look forward too. It's during this time of the year I feel closest to my late grandmother, Lucy. There is so much of her in what we do. My children only vaguely remember her, but they know that the things we do were part of a magical time when Nana was alive and the table was full of dozens of cousins, Italian food, wine, laughter and love. We're a MUCH smaller group now, but the her spirit and my Papa's are with us. I feel comforted knowing that my children are taking these traditions into their own lives and will pass them on for another generation.

So as we head full-speed into the crisp, cool, colorful days of autumn, I make a vow that I'm going to warm the nights by the fireplace even more with quality moments with my son. Be it a rowdy Wii bowling competition, or just a dinner for two on the nights Mike works. I'm going to make memories that will carry me through those days when I wait for the phone to ring from whatever far away land they might be in and when I hear those words that warm my heart..."Mommy, I miss you and I wish I was home", I'll know those memories are comforting them until we're together again making new ones.

Times are tough, good times are hard to come by these days, but making precious memories with your children never costs a thing. Make a vow to turn away from the insanity in our world right now and make precious memories... for you... and for them.

This article is dedicated to my children, Ashley and Louie.... I love you.  - Mom.