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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We Can Never Do Enough

Just when I think I have a pretty good grasp of the sacrifices made by our troops and their families, I am slapped in the face with the fact that we can never do enough to support them.

My nephew Joe is in the 101st Airborne and has been deployed to Afghanistan since Labor Day. In anticipation of his homecoming, his wife Meghan rented a house near Fort Campbell, KY. I had the privilege of helping her make the move from Denver to Fort Campbell.

I left ahead of her and their one year old baby, Saydee, driving the moving van, and towing her car with their dogs, Cheyenne and Romeo. I arrived at their new home four days before Meghan and Saydee were to fly in.

It is an adorable house, but being a rental, of course there was much cleaning and painting to do. I set to work immediately preparing the house for their arrival.

I scrubbed floors and walls. I painted closets and bedrooms. I changed outdated and discolored light switches and outlets.

I unloaded all their household items in their assigned rooms. Four friends of the family from the area spent an afternoon lining kitchen cabinets, fixing broken furniture and stocking the refrigerator.

I assembled Joe's new lawn mower and weedeater. I mowed the lawn and trimmed low hanging tree branches. I fixed the fence so the dogs and little Saydee wouldn't escape.

In between jobs I made time to play fetch with the dogs. I let them sleep with me and gave them all the love I knew Joe showed them. I took them for walks through the neighborhood just as Joe had instructed me. He wanted everyone to know his family was protected by two ferocious (looking) dogs.

I picked Meghan and Saydee up at the airport and delivered them safely to their new house. I showed Meghan how to find Wal-mart, the hardware store, the cheapest gas, the second-hand furniture store, the playground and the emergency room.

I got up with Saydee in the mornings and fed her breakfast to let Meghan sleep in after late nights of working on the house. I took her for walks and trips to town to give her mother a break.

I made sure their car was serviced and in good working order. I showed Meghan how the change the fuse to the cigarette lighter that blows sometimes so she would never be caught with a dead cell phone battery.

I did everything I thought Joe would do for his family. But as the time to return home was approaching I cursed the plane that would take me away from this little family I had become so attached to. Nine days just wasn't enough. There was so much more I wanted to do.

My heart broke when I found Cheyenne's beloved football in my suitcase where she had laid it hoping I would throw it for her one more time. She never strayed more than a few feet away from me the entire morning of my departure day. I hid my tears behind my sunglasses as I watched both dogs barking at the front window as they watched us pull out of the driveway. Meghan said that is how they behaved the night before Joe left.

It was all I could do to turn Saydee loose at the airport. She had stole my heart and wouldn't give it back. I couldn't look Meghan in the eyes as I hugged her goodbye. She is such a strong and independent woman and I knew I couldn't bear to see the loneliness in her eyes that I knew was sure to be there.

As I walked away all I could think of is how hard it must have been for Joe to walk away from his family as I had. How hard must it have been to think of his dogs and his baby wondering at the people who come in to their lives for a short time, then leave.

I just can't shake the feeling that I didn't do enough. We can never do enough to be an American Worth Dying For.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Mother's Day Gift

A year ago this week I penned a blog post titled Mother's Day, about a young lady named Shelby who was dying of cancer. Her mother was a customer at our Verizon store and she told my daughter, Jenn, that Shelby wanted Duke to carry her to final rest.

I've thought about Shelby often and just last week asked Jenn if she had heard any updates on Shelby. The last she had heard, Shelby had discontinued her chemo and was in hospice care.

Lately I've been spending one day a week at the store to give Jenn a break. I spend most of the day counting the hours til closing time and grumbling that I have to be there. Today was no different.

As I sat staring out the door wishing I was somewhere else, I watched a woman and a young girl make their way in. The girl was unsteady and walked with a cane, but she made her way determinedly. The mother recognized me and turned to the girl and said that's the lady with the horse and I instantly realized the girl was Shelby.

What a joy to finally meet the young lady that I had agonized over a year ago. She reports they removed her pick line and she was discharged from hospice yesterday. Her brain tumor is half the size. Oral morphine is controlling her headaches. Tomorrow she heads to Denver to see a specialist and learn what her options are.

I can't wait til quitting time so I can hurry home and tell Duke today was a good day at the office and he will get the chance to meet Shelby and not at her funeral. I couldn't ask for a better Mother's Day present. Thank you, Shelby!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Katie Giddup and Little Jane

It was the 1920’s and a little girl named Jane and her older brother were trying to make it home from school in one of those blinding, freezing blizzards that can come on so suddenly on the eastern plains of Colorado.

Their school bus was a two-wheeled cart pulled by a beautiful mule they lovingly called Katie-Giddup. As the frightened children huddled against the freezing wind and blinding snow they fought desperately to guide the mule towards home. But Katie Giddup was stubborn and wanted to go in another direction.

Time and again, they pulled on the lines trying to turn the mule towards home. But true to her natural stubbornness, Katie Giddup had to have her way. Finally, the frozen and disheartened children gave up the fight and let Katie Giddup have her head, knowing they would surely meet their demise on the windswept plains, miles from home.

Katie Giddup , free to follow her heart, trudged on, past fencepost after fencepost, through drift after drift, some as high as the underside of her swaying belly. Katie Giddup did not stop, not until she had safely delivered her precious children to the front door of their farmhouse and into the arms of their waiting parents.

Little Jane never forgot her beloved Katie Giddup. She shared the story of her loyal mule with her Horace, with her nine children and her twenty-eight grandchildren. Though long since passed, Katie Giddup lived on in the memory of little Jane.

Now 80 years later, in honor of that loyal mule, Duke will change his name to Katie Giddup on Saturday, and again, little Jane will be lovingly and gently carried home and into the arms of her Heavenly Father.