Tag Archives: military

Simple, humble gratitude.

IMG_3439A 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:

My father.
My father.

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 lectured.
He inspired.

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.

 

Let’s play a game

Let’s play a game this morning. Grab paper and pencil and write the numbers 1 through 10. Then, without over-thinking, write down the first 10 that things that come to mind when you finish this sentence: “I am grateful for…”

I surprised myself this morning when my #1 wasn’t my usual #1. It all started with a post shared by a friend’s son-in-law, who serves in the National Guard. Before our neighbor’s crow announced the dawn of a new day, I “liked” a picture (shown below) originally shared by Military Luggage Company posted on Facebook.

With my surprise #1 saved for the end, here are my top 10:

I am grateful for:

2. My family: Day in and day out, these are the people that keep me grounded. They remind me to focus on what really matters when my perspective gets skewed. They make me feel loved and give me a reason to be a better person. They bless me beyond measure.

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My favorite wall in the house.

3. My friends: My mother once told me that if I counted my friends on more than one hand, I was wealthy. I am an abundantly rich woman! From my ya-ya’s, Kathy and Amy, to my new-found writing/blogging buddies, my cup over-flows with laughter and wisdom shared by the people I am blessed to call friends.

4. This view: Before we ever bought our home, I knew I wanted a home that faced east so I could start my day with a sunrise through the front windows and end my day with a sunset out the back. A view of the Rocky Mountains is icing on the cake.

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Though a bit obscured by the trees that have matured over the last decade, I still love this view of the snowcapped mountains.

5. My health: A few years back, I struggled to walk on my own; a neurological illness had left me dependent on a cane, wheelchair, and my family and friends. Simple, mundane tasks became daily mountains to climb and my future seemed uncertain. Today, I am grateful my old wheelchair and cane gather dust and, though it was rough, I am grateful for the gifts that emerged from that part of my journey.

6. Our animals: We’ve shared our home with everything from an Egyptian Uromastyx to rabbits, (pet) rats, and guinea pigs. As a homeschool family, we had enough time to love and care for all of our little rescues (all but a few of our 18 animals over the years were rescued.) Today, we have only our old man Sammy Beagle, 3 cats, a newt, and Keebler, the Guide Dog for the Blind puppy we are raising. Daily, these animals teach me about patience, unconditional love, and living in the moment.

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No, I didn’t just have the TV remote in my mouth.

7. A warm house: As I often do, I ventured out barefooted this morning. Though I knew it was cold, my feet immediately felt the painful bite of the frozen ground. The chill pulsed through my body and I rushed the dog to finish up. As soon as we stepped inside, I stood on the heater vent, using the warm air thaw my feet. Then, I said a prayer for the men, women, and children that have no warm retreat.

8. Hope: Every phone call home, my father would ask, “Hey, what’s new and exciting?” There were many days I felt like a putz when I replied, “Nothing.” Then, one day we talked about his question, and he told me he asks it, in large part, because of the importance to always have something to look forward to, even if it is seemingly routine. A cup of coffee with a friend, a big trip, or a quiet afternoon reading a new book are all things that can become something to look forward to and, in turn, create hope.

9. Laughter: They say “laughter is the best medicine.” It is and so much more. Laughter bonds and soothes and heals. It can turn a bad day around and make a good day better. It’s that simple, and it’s that important in my life.

And now, as promised, my #1 gratitude today is:

1. My freedom: Every day, I enjoy the freedom to leave my home unescorted, worship as I choose, and disagree publically with my government, but, far too often, I  take this for granted. Freedom isn’t free; it comes from the sacrifices made by the men, women, and their families that protect and serve our country (including our first responders here at home), and this is what I am most grateful for today.

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Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!