Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happy Thursday!

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

The "about me" surveys have been spreading like wildfire on Facebook and once again I'm struck by the question, "Why don't we talk about these things?" Granted, it would be difficult to have a conversation covering all of the question floating around, so I am hereby committed to inserting random "about me" survey questions into daily conversation. My husband is going to love that... ;-)

And, in case you were wondering, I'd be Fire Red or Social Justice Green.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Brothers Are For...

My best friend is 16 months, two weeks, and one day younger than me. And I used to hate him.

My first introduction to him was when he was in his seventh month of residence in our mother's womb. Mom called me over to sit in her lap and I was instantly assaulted with a swift kick to the backside. He may not have been ready to come into the world, but he could have given Chuck Norris a run for his money. I wasn't sure I was going to like this new addition.

Grandpa recently told me that Bobby was quite possibly the most beautiful baby ever born. And it's a good thing he got so scarred up early on, cause he was just too pretty. One of the many scars on his face I helped him achieve. (That'll teach him to try and answer the phone when I've already stepped onto the step stool...)

It's funny what changes as we grow up. The boy that used to make my blood boil with anger has become a man that makes my heart swell with pride. The one I couldn't wait to get away from has become the one I miss the most.

I was a mixture of pride and nervousness when Bobby announced he was joining the Marine Corp. One deployment down and another one at its inception, I know he is one of the best. But that doesn't make another deployment any easier to accept. (Especially one that landed him on a plane a week earlier than scheduled. Darn military schedules.)

I heard Dean Brody's song "Brothers" a few weeks ago and it made me cry. Now it makes me cry and laugh cause I can hear so much of my own brother in the lyrics. I spent a lot of our childhood and early adulthood (cause we're old 20-somethings) trying to protect him and our sister. I'm learning to let go, but I also now know he spent a lot of time trying to protect us as well. I know he'll never tell me everything cause he doesn't want to burden me, just like I won't cry until after I've hung up the phone, but I know he always has my best interest at heart. And maybe in the end that's what brothers are for.

Operation Valentine: Oregon Veterans Home

I hate Valentine's Day. I mean, want to crawl under a rock every time the date comes around and not come out until it has passed hate it. As far back as I can remember, something horrific has happened on that date. Most notably, my childhood dog having a seizure and having to be put down the next day, but there have been others just as traumatic, and some even more so. And they always seem to happen on Valentine's Day.

Lest you think I am a bitter old spinster, let me explain my take on relationships, the expression of love, and Valentine's Day. I have been happily married for nearly a year and a half to a man I have been madly in love with for nearly five years. He sends me flowers and cards at random times and when I need them the most. That's how it should be as far as I'm concerned.

My experience and observations show that Valentine's Day is an especially stressful time for men with significant, and not-so-significant, others as our society has conditioned them to believe (and not only them, but the women they are attached to) that their other expressions of love are not as worthy as the diamond necklace, flowers, and chocolates that MUST be bought on Valentine's.

Now, let me insert a disclaimer, if you are not showing your SO that you love and appreciate them day in and day out and make a special effort at least once a month (or even every other month) to demonstrate that in some way, maybe it is important that you at least honor the day set aside for love. My opinion, however, remains that demonstrating love should not be done out of obligation but out of selflessness and a desire to do so. It's just tainted otherwise.

My ramblings aside, I will now get to the point of this post and an explanation of the above picture. A couple weeks ago I received an e-mail saying "Calling all Oregon Angels!" and it was a request from Soldiers' Angels, a nonprofit that I rate as my favorite and consider Patti Patton-Bader my personal hero, to make and deliver Valentines cards to veterans at the Oregon Veterans Home in The Dalles.

I was so delighted to have a mission that in a state of quasi-hypocrisy, I agreed to take part and made 95 Valentines cards and anxiously awaited the day I could deliver them.

This year was quite possibly the best Valentines I've had in a long while. (My husband, who always enjoys giving me a bad time about my detest for Valentines, even though it's to his advantage I feel this way, accompanied me on the trip and was the perfect accomplice. He even folded the enveloped around the cards that didn't quite fit in them. He's such a sport.)

We spent almost three hours visiting with the veterans who live in three of the four wings (the Delta Wing is reserved for the Alzheimer and dementia veterans and I, shamefully, am terribly uncomfortable in those types of situations). We heard stories of the building of the bridges and dams across the Columbia. One gentleman, who was visiting his wife, told us about growing up in Hood River, picking cherries, and riding his bike up and down the hills before bikes had gears. (As a side note, I believe they are both veterans, but his wife is blind and lives in the home. I have rarely seen two people so in love at such an advanced stage in life and it really touched me.)

My husband and another lady veteran swapped stories about Apple Valley, California as they had that in common. She actually worked at the senior center down the street from where his father pastored.
I was wearing my Soldiers' Angels t-shirt, which proved to be a good conversation starter and everyone was interested in hearing about the organization and what we stand for. We were so busy visiting that we only took one picture, which is the one above of a handful of veterans decorating heart shaped sugar cookies.
On the drive home my husband and I discussed the different conversations and feelings we'd had. It was a memorable experience for both of us and we think maybe we'll make it a Valentine's Day tradition. (Except maybe the dinner at a certain restaurant that followed that excursion. I'd be okay not going there again. Ha.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Unsung Heroes...

Dad just sent me an e-mail that gave me pause. I have a lot on my mind and haven't had a chance to get it all. I have class in ten minutes, so here's a story I lifted from an e-mail. I haven't checked the facts, but will later.
You're an 18 or 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley, Nov-14-1965, LZ Xray, Vietnam.Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8-1, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in.
You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.
Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter, and you look up to see an un-armed Huey, but it doesn't seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it. The pilot, Ed Freeman, is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come. He's coming anyway. And he drops it in, and sits there inthe machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you onboard. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to theDoctors and Nurses.
And, he kept coming back.... 13 more times..... And took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.
Medal of Honor Recipient Ed Freeman died Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008 at the age of 80, in Boise , ID.
May God rest his soul.
(Oh yeah, Paul Newman died that day too. I guessyou knew that -- He got a lot more press than Ed Freeman.)
I verified. Read the story:
PS: The picture is from my brother's first deployment. He left for his second deployment last Friday.