I have created this blog to hopefully inspire average, everyday Americans to do their part in supporting our troops by being “An American Worth Dying For.” If you are new to the site, please read oldest to newest.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

My daughter Jennifer runs my Verizon shop for me. She does a great job of it and only calls when she really needs me. Now and then she might have a customer or employee issue, or maybe there isn't enough money to pay a bill or buy the inventory she needs.

She called me last Friday as I was setting up for SGT Wichmann's service.

"Mom, I don't think I can tell you this without crying."

Uh oh, I sensed this was bad.

"One of our customers came in today."

Whooh, I can handle this, it's just a customer issue.

"She's a really nice lady and a good customer."

So, what's the problem, I'm thinking?

"Her 16 year old daughter Shelby is dying of cancer."

My heart sinks. I can't fix this customer's problem.

"She asked about the hearse, and if you still do funerals. Shelby has talked about you."

"Of course, I told her you would do her funeral."

"She still can't bring herself work on the arrangements, but she wants you there."

"Of course, I told her there would be no charge."

"Shelby wants to be cremated. She doesn't want to be buried in the dirt."

"Of course, I told her you can still do it, even if she is cremated."

"I invited them to the barbeque you are having for Duke and Lady in June."

"She says Shelby is so sick now, she doesn't get out much."

Well then, we will take Duke to Shelby. Let's don't put this off. Duke will be going to church Sunday, call her and ask her if Duke can come by and see Shelby on Mother's Day after church.

"She's says Shelby's grandma goes to the same church. She doesn't get to see her grandma much now that she is so sick. If she is feeling good enough, she will come to church and see both her grandma and Duke. If not, you can take Duke over after church."

Sunday, May 9th, Mother's Day

I was just loading Duke in the trailer when I got the call.

"Shelby had a bad night. She's not up to meeting Duke today."

The coward in me breathed a sigh of relief. I did not know how I was going to face this young lady without falling apart. The mother's heart within me ached, though. How I wanted to be able to give her mother the joy of seeing her baby smile on Mother's Day. How I wanted Duke to distract Shelby and her mother from their pain, if only for a few minutes.

"She will call you when Shelby has a good day and you can take Duke over then."

I pray she has a good day so she can meet Duke.

"She still wants you to do her funeral even if she doesn't get to meet Duke."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dear Coston:

Dear Coston:

It was an honor to meet you today, little man. You won't remember this day but it is a day I will never forget. Your daddy's name, Sgt. Grant A. Wichmann will forever be burned into my heart.

I can only imagine the joy your daddy must have felt when he held you for the first time when you were three months old. I can't imagine the pain he must have felt two weeks later when he had to leave you again for the battlefield. I know his chest must have been bursting with pride as he looked down on you today, sitting on your mommy's lap atop my hearse. You were so composed as you talked to the big black horse carrying your daddy home.

I'm sure there will be times when your mommy looks in to your pretty blue eyes, your daddy's eyes, that she will shed a tear.

And I'm sure there will be times as you get older, that you will look at your daddy's picture on the wall and ask why you had to give your daddy up for my freedom. I will ask the same question, and have no answer. For surely I am not worthy of it.

But I hope you will find comfort in knowing your daddy was a brave and honorable soldier who gave his life so that you and your mommy would have a better life.

I am so sorry that you only had two weeks with your daddy. The ten minutes I shared with you and your mommy and daddy together on my coach will be with me for a lifetime.

In was an honor to meet you today, little man.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Goodbye and Hello-Lady and Duke

I said goodbye to my beloved Lady on November 13, 2009.

Goodbyes are never easy, especially when you know they aren't coming back. Especially when they are part of your family. Especially when you've gone through battle with them.

I must confess that as I lay on the ground next to my dead warrior, I wanted to quit. Together, Lady and I had walked through the battleground of death so many times. But we had each other's back so I had no fear. How could I face it without my Lady?

I asked myself, "What is God trying to tell me?" The month before my truck had died, now Lady. "That's 2/3 of my business, God." "Take me out of the picture and we've got nothing."

I cried all night. I buried Lady the next morning. I cried all day. I didn't want to go on. I had to tell the family of a fallen warrior that we couldn't carry their hero home. My heart was broke. Maybe it was time to hang it up. I'd done my tour. There would be no shame in calling it quits.

Then in the middle of my pity party another thought came to mind. What about the warriors at battle in faraway lands? They watch their brothers fall and they can't stop the battle to grieve. Why should I be afforded that luxury?

So with the support of my family, friends and the Patriot Guard Riders, I picked myself up. There had to be a reason Lady left. Maybe an accident awaited me had I gone to that soldier's funeral. Maybe Lady knew the only thing that would keep me from a funeral was losing her. Who knows, but I did realize I needed to come back and be better and stronger than before.

My friends and community rallied behind me. A dinner was held in Lady's honor. I found a great deal on a new (to me) truck. Funds were raised to purchase a new horse. Word was received of a beautiful black Percheron in Indiana. A deal was struck and he would arrive in Denver on April 15th.

It's a bit scary buying a horse sight unseen. You see, you don't pick a horse, the horse picks you. Needless to say I was a bit nervous when I first met "Duke". But it was love at first sight, at least on my part. Three weeks later, I think Duke and I have bonded. I hope so, as tomorrow he will be called upon to carry SGT Grant Wichmann home.

So tonite, as I say goodbye to Lady again. I am comforted knowing she is grazing in the pastures of heaven with our Mike. And I know someday my hands will be on the lines and we will be a team again.

And in the morning I will say, "Hello Duke, step up, we have to take a young sergeant home."