Monday, May 26, 2014

Wounds of Wartime

Today is Memorial Day. We know that means a day set apart to honor those who  lost in their time of service to our country. One of my Facebook friends from my hometown shared that her brother served in Korea, and was lost in the War there  As it often happens, while thinking about those things, one thought leads to another.....which leads to the writing of these words today.

We know that Wars bring casualties. We know that there are those who have returned home with their scars from injuries, who have been presented with Purple Hearts and medals.  We also know that there are many who have come home with PST, trauma that we've never known. Those people are seeing images in their heads the likes of which we'll never see.  Those men and women are recognized for what they've endured.

But, what about the many, the un-numbered others who bear the wounds of wartime?  What about the Viet Nam veterans who returned to be spat upon, cursed, and more as they walked through airports wearing their uniforms. Those individual military men and women who were greeted with disrespect after putting their lives on the line for us.  They carry that pain even today, so many years later, injuries  as deep for some of them as if they'd been impaled by a bayonet. An ungrateful population of demonstrators, some of them cowards who would run to Canada to escape the Draft, rather than put their lives in jeopardy.

What about the families who have no idea what happened to a loved one who was declared Missing in Action?  Think of the way those people must feel, kissing their son, or brother, or grandson good-bye, and never hearing from them again.  Consider the Mother who was notified by telegram, or by letter, that her son was declared dead, as was true of my friend's Mom.  How did she go on through her life, bearing such an unbearable injury to her heart and soul?

Go to the Wall in Washington, DC, and watch the visitors there. Look at the adult women and men weeping as they stand before a name of one they knew.  Notice them tenderly touching the engraved name and softly tracing it with their fingers. These are showing the wounds they feel so many years later over the loss.  Maybe one of them is a son, maybe a daughter...born while their father served in a foreign land. Those grown children might never have met their father.  They have suffered the wounds of wartime, and they carry those unseen scars throughout their own lives.

There are so many....uncounted.....who did not fight in a skirmish, yet they battle the pain that rides through their souls during their lives, things they could not control, brought about by the loss, the injury, the mental illness, the curses, the disrespect, of the ones they loved more than they can express to you.

They, too, endure the Wounds of War.  As I remember their lost ones,  I  also think of those who they left behind.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

What Can I Say?

 Today is Mother's Day. It's a day when we find something special to do for our Moms, to let them know how much we appreciate them and their efforts.  They, most of them anyway, deserve the praises and honors we shed on them. No one is perfect, but most of us will acknowledge that the woman we call our mother is the most perfect choice for us.

I can, and I have, written about my Mom and some of the stories of her that I recall with appreciation.  The fact of the matter is, there are not enough words in the human language to say how blessed I am that this humble, giving woman is my own Mom.  We have shared everything for 66 years, both good times and bad ones.  She's never disowned me, regardless of how frustrating I was to deal with.  I will never disown her, either, regardless of how stubborn and determined she can be.  She taught me to be a strong woman, and I've was infiltrated with some of her stubbornness, so there are times when we are too much alike and things
can be a bit of a struggle.  However, the older I get, the more I realize that everything that she is is what I want to be in my own life.  

Mom is a wonderful example, has always been to us, her children.  I pray that she has rubbed off on me,  or will, during the years I have left.  I long to be such an example to those who know me, and that they might learn along the way that we all must be patient, compassionate, understanding, giving...and forgiving.... people, in order to make our way peaceably through a difficult world of many different personalities and ways of life.

What can I say? Not much more than 'Thank You, Lord for the blessing of this woman in my life, this one who has taught me so much along the way. And Thank You, dear Mom, for all you have put up with over the years, all you have given to so many, all that you do still, to show us what a good servant of the Lord looks like.'  As I said earlier, there are not enough words ......

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake, Cream on Top!

It's time for strawberries in South Carolina!  Today is the day that I will purchase some....and shortcake will be on the menu tonight!  Buy? You might ask.  Yes, buy, not pick...although there are a number of farms nearby where we could pick our own.  I have some physical limitations that don't allow easy bending in order to pick them as I did in my youth. So, I'll gladly let someone else do that chore, and I'll willingly hand over a bit more cash for the blessing!

I think strawberries are one of my favorite fruits. I'll eat my fill of them through this season as well as put as many into the freezer as possible. I might even make some jam this year.  There is nothing quite like fresh jam on morning toast, is there? 

 In my mind, I can smell those berries, and it reels back the memory film to earlier days.  Suddenly, I'm sitting at a yellow formica table, on chairs with yellow vinyl seats. There's a yellow, dial wall phone above my head, and I have to move a bit to keep the long, twisted phone cord from tangling in my hair.  The wall paper with the green ivy pattern makes me dizzy when I look at it, so I turn and face the kitchen sink where my Aunt Nita is laughing with my Mom as they slice the tops off the fresh strawberries they picked that afternoon.  I watch the operation with my mouth watering, knowing that in a few hours, we'll be eating together at the picnic tables in the back yard. The grilled hot dogs and hamburgers will be followed by mounds of berries and fresh whipped cream over the warm cakes.

When I was a child, that was the scene nearly every Sunday night of the summer. Family suppers in the back yard at Grandma's house. Of course, strawberries were there only in season, but that was my favorite time! There were 'strawberry suppers' at the Presbyterian church,too, and as a teen I was a part of the youth group which would help serve the delicious dessert to those who were present.  When I grew up, and had children of my own, the church we went to had a big 'strawberry supper' . The berries were donated by twin brother farmers, who allowed the church ladies to pick them from the fields.  Then they'd be prepared, cakes baked and the members of the church would join together that evening for fellowship together around the mountains of berries topped with cream. 

Many things in life come and go, leaving us with only memories. Happily I report to you that one thing that remains is those wonderful, juicy berries!  There will be no 'cool whip topping' for'll be real whipped cream. There will be no store bought pound cake for us, we always opt for making the cake of Bisquick.  It's only just minutes after my breakfast, and already I'm counting the hours 'til dinnertime! 

Pardon me now, while I go to wipe the drool off my chin!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

More Behind the Scenes....

Some time ago I posted a blog entry about how a picture tells only a portion of the story. I'll expand that thought today with another picture or two.

 When you see this picture, you probably wince. You wonder who was in that car, what happened to them, how the accident took place, and maybe where it did. Don't you?  

This is a car I happened to see on the back of a car carrier when returning to work after lunch, at 1pm, on Sept 4, 1997.  My heart stopped when I was it. The car was too familiar.  I began to pray...'oh no! oh no!  Lord, don't let it be......".   I went into my office and sat at my desk, shaking like crazy, and dialed the phone number for the person I feared owned that car.  No answer.  I looked up and one of my co-workers stood at the other side of my desk, and said, 'She's alright. She medically alright.'  Then she told me that it was my worst 70 year old mother, the most careful driver in the world, had been in that accident.

The rest of the day unfolded and as it did, details came out. The collision happened at 9am, less than a half mile from Mom's house. She was T-boned on the driver's side, by a large pick up truck full of lawn mowers, and towing a trailer full of heavy professional mowing equipment.  The truck was going too fast, and even though the driver tried to stop, the weight behind him prevented him from plowing into the car, propelling it another 50 feet or so, which rammed the front bumper into a tree on the opposite side of the road.

Mom was in the local hospital, and was able to talk to me when I arrived. She was not concerned for herself, but asked if she'd hurt anyone else. She asked again and again, as if she didn't believe me when I told her they were fine....which they were.  

What you don't see, when you see this picture of her car, is in what ways she was injured. She suffered 7 broken ribs, a punctured lung, a torn kidney, broken hip and a torn pelvis.  Her mind was fine, thinking completely clear. She kept over-night in order to stablize her, and the next day, after lunch, she was air-lifted to the University hospital at Stonybrook.

What you don't know when you see this photo is how determined a woman Mom is.  She was not going anywhere, although we nearly lost her at two different points in those early weeks in the intensive care unit.  What you cannot see here is the fear that I knew at that point in my life. My faith kept me on track, but there was always that needling fear in the background which whispered in my ear when I saw the machines that kept Mom's breathing regular or the tube that inflated her lung. Fear taunted me when nurses answered my calls and they told me she'd had a 'bad night'.  I had to grab fear by the throat and hand my emotions and my Mother into the hands of God. I had to allow God to do with her what He would, even if it meant I'd need to let her go.   I had to have a bigger faith than the fear I had.

What more do you not see? You don't know all that went on during the six weeks of hospital stays she had.  You can't imagine the number of people who lifted Mom up in prayer for her healing....or the miracles along the way that took place during those weeks.  But I know them all....and other things too.  I know that faith as small as a grain of mustard seed can accomplish mighty things....because it did for me.

Life brings us things that are fearful. There is no control over life, no matter what we think. We can control only the way we view those things in the moments that they occur.  We can look fear in the eye and fight, like Mom did, and like I had to do too, but having the weapon of faith will work wonders!  Things don't always go our way, but there are times when we must look beyond what we see, and know that things are happening that we cannot see.  That's what faith is about.

What else you may not know is, my Mother is still with us, at the age of 88.  She stopped driving after the accident, she thought it was a good idea.  She is healthy, in her right mind, and still living alone in her own home.   From this mangled wreckage, she survived! and she is a walking miracle!