Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dad's farewell

It has been a long time since I posted here. Alot has happened...some good, but most was not so good. I must say, I've never been so happy to say goodbye to a year as I was this past year.

I lost my September. He actually began to decline the year before when he lost most of what was left of his sight. He was no longer able to read, which was his passion, or e-mail old friends. Then, last January, he was hospitalized because his right foot was becoming discolored due to lack of circulation. It involved a two week hospital stay which included a femural artery bypass to restore circulation. The surgery was successful, but the hospital stay really took a toll on him...he became beligerant and not himself. He spent several nights sitting up facing the door of his hospital room so he could see the Japs when they tried to sneak up on him in the dark. His walker was his machinegun. (Anyone who knows him, knows that he was a Marine machinegunner on the islands of Bougainville, Guam, and Iwo Jima during WWII. He survived a horrifying banzai on Guam, of which there was an actual book written called "The Last Banzai," and was wounded on Iwo Jima.) His hospital stay was followed by two weeks in a rehab center, which he hated even more than the hospital. The day we took him to rehab, he begged and pleaded with us to take him home...he'd be good and do all his rehab exercises at home...he wouldn't be any trouble. When we tried to explain to him that he would only be there for a couple of weeks until he could get around by himself, he accused us of tricking him into going. It broke our hearts and we cried...

We brought him home the end of January, but he had to have another surgery and another week in the hospital in February...with the same dementia setting in after a couple days. We were told it was common in older people, but that didn't make it any easier. We bypassed rehab this time and took him home...and decided he would never go back in was that bad. And we made the decision that he would never go to a home other than his own...thus the pact between we three sisters. He needed 24 hour care, so we set up a schedule and stuck to it as best we could. My little sister lived with him, so she had evenings and nights. She worked full time, so I would go to his house at 6:30 every weekday morning when she left for work, but I had a full-time job also, so could only stay till about 10:30 or 11 a.m., then my older sister who didn't work, would relieve me and stay till my younger sister got home from work. His dementia got worse as time went on, and the nights got so difficult for my little sister that I began to spend the night at least once during the work week to care for Dad so she could sleep all night without being disturbed. It was hard, but we were determined to keep him at home.

Then, about the time we were wondering how much longer we could do it, he passed away quietly one evening at home. I really think God made the last year extremely difficult and made Dad not himself so it would be easier for us to let him go when the time came. He celebrated his 90th birthday in July, so he had a long good life.

My boys and nephew put together a wonderful farewell for Dad, one that he would have loved. They pulled out his M1, attached the bayonet, and stabbed it into the ground in Dad's backyard. They hung his old dogtag and the red Marine cap he always wore from the rifle and put his favorite work boots at the base of the rifle. We lit the firepit and burned the flag that was flying on his flagpole the night he died. The music we played was "Hallelujah" by the Gatlin Brothers, the "Marine Corps Hymn," "Amazing Grace" (bagpipes), and, of course, "Taps." It was simple, but it was awesome!! I miss my dad and will continue to miss him the rest of my life, just as I still miss my mom, but I know they are together again, arm in arm...and that makes me smile.

The year wasn't all bad, though. My two youngest boys bought their first homes and my middle son got married to a very sweet girl whom we already love. And my two grandsons (Sawyer-3 and Liam-1) continue to make life wonderful. Life goes on and God continues to bless us in so many ways. I love my family and friends so much and know how lucky I am to have them all. I pray that this year is a good year and brings blessings to all.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

My boys...

Well, actually, I should say my "newest" boys..... :) Liam was born on June 24th with a headful of dark hair like his mother. In this picture, taken when Liam was just a few days old, Sawyer was still trying to figure out who that baby was. He now calls him Iam and knows that he is his little brother. They are both wonderful beyond any words..... :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Life has been so very busy lately..... where do I begin to tell you about it?

Sawyer is wonderful..........I have so enjoyed having him nearby since Seth got out of the Army and they moved back to town. I kept him one Friday night and took him to visit my dad and sisters. My little sister got out the dominoes for him to play with and we started lining them up to do the domino effect. He didn't have a clue what we were doing, so he just knocked them down. Finally, I put my arm out in front of him and said "wait." He looked so sad and walked away and put his head down on the stereo speaker and just kind of whimpered like his heart was broken. Susie and I continued to set up the dominoes in a long snakey path and, all of a sudden, he came running over to try to knock them down again. I put my arm out again and said "wait" and he went back to the speaker and put his head down again and sounded broken hearted again. This went on several times until we finally finished lining them up. Then I let him push them over. He thought it was wonderful, so we started setting them up again...and he did the same thing again with the trying to knock them down, broken-hearted, lay-his-head down on the speaker thing again. If I didn't stop him, he'd stop on his own and go back and put his head on the speaker. It had become part of the game. We were rolling with laughter by then. He was quite the entertainment that night. I wish I'd gotten a video of the whole thing..... :) Anyway, he makes my day, evening, night.....well, he makes my everything!!!

There's another one on the way..........Sawyer will have a little brother in June. It was quite unexpected...especially so soon and while Seth is still looking for that elusive police job...but I'm soooo very excited. I know Seth and Katie were both hoping for a girl this time, just like I was with my 3rd pregnancy, but I don't think they mind it too much. I know I wouldn't have known what to do with a girl..... :)

The boys moved to a bigger house..........since Seth and Katie and Sawyer moved in with the brothers, the house suddenly became very small. It only had 3 bedrooms, so Sawyer had been sleeping in Seth and Katie's room since the middle of September. There was just one living area, too, so they were on top of each other all the time...just no space for that many people...especially with all of Sawyer's toys. So, when the lease was up, they found a 4 bedroom with a living room and a seperate family room and dining area, so there's alot more room to spread out. They also have a very nice backyard with a covered deck, so they spend much more time outdoors now...and Sawyer loves that..... :)

It's traveling season started in February and will probably last all summer as I traipse off to various aggregates quarries across the country. Yep, that's what I do for a living folks. I've already been to Cincinnati for a conference; to northern Kentucky to tour an underground quarry (I took the picture below while in the underground's a drill rig drilling holes for the next blast); to an operation in Brideport, Texas; and one south of Seattle. Next stop will be Atlanta, Georgia, for a press event and quarry visit, then I'll spend the weekend in South Carolina with an old childhood friend that I haven't seen in many moons. I'm looking forward to catching up with her and meeting her family. Can you believe it?? She found me on Facebook..... lol.

Well, I hope this catches everyone up on what's been going on in my life...and why I have been away for so long. Life just keeps getting better and busier all the time...which is fine by me..... :D

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Don't Tread on Me"

That motto has been a part of American history, and on one of our first flags, since the very beginnings of our nation, and rightfully so, especially when you talk about our vets. Much has been said about the vet who returns from war and has trouble adjusting to home again. It's not a new subject to me...I've heard about it from many of the vets I know. A friend still has trouble dealing with some things after his year in Iraq. My dad has often talked about his return from more than 2 years of fighting the Japanese in the Pacific during WWII...and about the war he continued to fight in his dreams for many years after that. He adjusted, but not without scaring himself and my mother and the neighbors a few times.

My son seems to have made the transition pretty well after his two deployments, but he is not quite the same person he was when he left the first time...there's something different about him, but I can't quite say what it is. His transition to civilian life has gone okay, but the job hunt has not been easy. Finding a job to support his growing family has proven to be difficult. The other day he and his family were visiting. He had just lost a job that barely got them by while living with his brothers and had missed out on another good job opportunity, and he was approaching his 6-month re-enlistment window where he could go back in without having to repeat basic training. With no job on the horizon, his wife asked him if he would consider talking to a recruiter to see what his re-enlistment options were. His demeanor changed, his face darkened, and he answered with an emphatic "NO!" He went on to say that re-enlisting would mean another deployment and that he'd already been there twice and come back twice, but he had a gut feeling that if he went again, he wouldn't come back. Needless to say, that was the end of the conversation. I had never seen him look quite like that was an eye-opener. He is still haunted by his time in Iraq. He's extremely proud of having served his country, but he wants a regular life now where he can watch his children grow up...and who can blame him.

Anyway, tread lightly and with great reverence when you encounter our vets...from any war. They have seen things and done things that the rest of us can't even imagine. Some want to talk about it, some don't...but they all deserve our utmost respect and appreciation.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A birthday party...

Thought I should share this photo with all of you.....Sawyer celebrated his first birthday last Saturday. Here he is eating his cake...and wearing it, too..... lol. He loved it and was doing some two-fisted eating, as you can see. He got so many new toys at the party that he doesn't know which one to play with. Katie says she's going to rotate them one at a time..... hahaha.

He's growing up so fast...and is on the verge of walking any time now. His daddy and my other two boys were all walking by the time they were a year old, but Sawyer is taking his time. Right now, he crawls over to the couch or coffee table or wall or chair or whatever and pulls up and walks holding onto it. But he will walk by himself in his own good time..... :) All I know is he melts my heart and is pure joy!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A friend's book...

My friend, Fred Minnick, spent 2004 in Iraq as a U.S. Army journalist. He was based in Mosul, though he traveled around the country to cover military missions and events. We kept in touch by e-mail during his year-long deployment, and he wrote a blog, In Iraq for 365, using the name Sminklemeyer that I read everyday. Some of you will know him as Desert Smink. His was the first military blog I ever read, and it had me hooked from the start. I checked his blog constantly for new posts . . . some had me rolling with laughter, others brought me to tears. I told him that he could paint a picture with his words . . . a picture that was vivid and made me feel like I was there and that I knew the people he wrote about. I, along with everyone else who followed his blog, encouraged him to write a book when he returned home.

Well, that book, Camera Boy: An Army Journalist's War in Iraq, is finally being published, and it's a good one. How do I know? I got a sneak peek . . . . . :) Anyway, his book will be available in November and can be pre-ordered at

Monday, August 03, 2009

How I'm spending my summer...

Need I say more?!?!?! Life has never been so sweet..... :)