I asked my younger daughter for a Christmas list this morning. I’ve already tucked away a few goodies for both girls and have a good idea of what I want to do for my husband, but I know the time for shopping will be in the panic zone before I know it. Still, I don’t want to miss this month. Though not exclusive, this is the month customarily designated for gratitude. For me, it is also a month of reflection; a time to look back before the busyness of the holiday season ushers in the closing of the books on another year.
On occasion, I pull out my old journals and read through the pages. Who was I two years, five years, ten years ago? What did I worry about? What were my struggles, dreams, and triumphs? What changes have I made? Have I made progress?
I started this blog (originally named Transitioning Mom) back in 2011. I wanted to use it to both record and reflect on my life as I moved through the transitional phase toward the empty nest. My days were so different back then. I was still actively homeschooling my girls. Life was filled with their needs far more than my own. That, in many ways, is what we do as moms, intentional or not. We lose sight of our own needs and before we know it, another year has passed.
Tonight I looked back on where I was and who I was the year I started this blog. Delightfully, I was taken to post that walked me back to the early days of this blog and my children’s lives. It was a walk down memory lane of Christmas ornaments and construction paper gratitude chains. And, for that, I am grateful.
A couple of years back, I wrote about my father. He was an amazing man who made amazing sacrifices for his family and his country. Each year, on Veteran’s Day, I called him specifically to thank him for his service and the sacrifices he made during WWII. Though he was a humble man and talked little of his service, I wanted him to know his service and sacrifices mattered.
His service did matter. And, though he is gone, his service still matters, as does the service of every man and woman that has answered the call to protect my freedom. I may not agree with every action taken by our military, but I will always stand in support of the men and women that wear a uniform in protection of my rights.
As a practice, I thank every man and woman I see in uniform, regardless of the date, but today, as a nation, we say our public and collective thanks. With our eyes set on the fact that each man and woman in uniform was a boy or a girl once and that each has a family that also makes sacrifices so their son, daughter, husband, father, wife, and/or mother may serve, my family and I once again offer our simple, humble, and deeply heartfelt gratitude for all the veterans that serve and have served.
And, in remembrance of my father, I again share the tribute I wrote in 2013:
A Veteran’s Legacy
He was a boy once, taught to ride ponies by his mama.
He had only one sister, no brothers, and a father who wasn’t present.
He was a boy who couldn’t breathe, lungs constricted by asthma.
He worked odd jobs to help support the family.
He was a boy who played saxophone and clarinet well.
He struggled in classes and was told he wasn’t bright.
He was a boy when he left school, not yet graduated, not yet 18.
He left school on the promise of a high school diploma.
He was too young to sign the papers.
He asked his mother for consent; she conceded, her only son would serve.
He was skinny, runt-like, at only 109 pounds, but they would take him.
He would play in the band and be trained as a medic.
He would serve in the name of his family, his friends, his country.
He served in the Navy, on the USS Yorktown, in the Pacific during WWII.
He played his saxophone and wheezed at night.
He saw action.
He saw death and pain and horror no boy of 16 or 17 should see.
He bonded with his shipmates, and they with him.
He mourned the loss of his best friend.
He swallowed his fear.
He rescued men when the ship was hit.
He was injured.
He earned medals.
He entered as a boy; he left as a man.
He said he simply did what he had to do, that they all did.
He lived in Paris after the war.
He played jazz and conversed with Jean-Paul Sartre.
He returned home to begin anew.
He went back to school on the GI bill.
He became a lawyer.
He met a woman and proposed 6 weeks later.
He married her in less than a year.
He started a family and he returned to school.
He became a psychologist.
He built a marriage, a family, and a private practice.
He became a writer.
He regularly challenged his mind; education mattered to the boy who left high school.
He teased with a dry sense of humor.
He encouraged and guided his children in their education and in life.
He traveled the world and inspired his children to do the same.
He woke with sick children, mourned the loss of a child, and assembled toys late on Christmas Eve.
He openly missed them when the last had left the nest.
He loved his children well.
He was a romantic.
He would buy her violets, the flowers she carried on their wedding day.
He called her “Doll”, and his eyes still sparkled each time he looked at her.
He would ask her, “Did I make you feel loved today?” at the end of the day.
He held her hand when they walked.
He celebrated their love.
He would share almost 50 years with her.
He loved her well.
He rarely spoke of the pain he had seen in the war or in life.
He served his country, his community, and his family.
He left a legacy of discipline, of humility, but most of all, of love.
He was a veteran, and I’m proud to say he was my father.
And, he is missed.
To all the men and women who serve and have served our country, my family and I thank you.