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 I changed outdated and discolored light switches and outlets.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.
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.