Doing laundry – Ranger School style

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photo copy 7With a bit of food in their tummies and new gear piled in the back of our SUV, reality began to set in.

Something smelled.

The guys had a slightly ripe odor slightly akin to a good camembert

But it was three heavy duffel bags which held the real aroma.

I found this in my son's duffel bag.

I found this in my son’s duffel bag.

The longer we were in the car, which now also included a trip to Wal-Mart, the greater stress weighed on me as a mother who had a giant task ahead of her.

We had been warned that the laundry stunk but oh my, as soon as I unzipped the first duffel bag, a tsunami of smell filled my nostrils.

Foolishly we had chosen to wash the clothes in the hotel laundry room. I do not recommend this as it is asking too much of a standard model washing machine. Alas, with no time to spare, I began pulling damp ACU items out of the bag chucking them onto the floor. Body odors, dirt, grime, silt stuck into every fiber.

In my 23 years of motherhood, nothing really had prepared me for this task.

No diaper,

no soccer game,

no previous Army training exercises involving stinky summer uniforms was adequate preparation.  Every type of laundry detergent I had available was summoned forth. With reckless abandon, I threw t-shirts, pants, filthy socks into the mouth of the machines. Time was of the essence and the clock pulled minutes away from our day.

photo copy 2Occasionally I opened the lid as if to apologize to the machine for the assault. Dirt, sand, duct tape began to cover the laundry room floor.

I even found a few rocks tucked into my boy’s pockets which made me wistful of those bygone years.

The Hubs came into the laundry room and we both stood amidst the sea of Army colors.

Truly I was making a mess and the thought of unzippering the next duffel bag was daunting.

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I chuckle seeing this picture and now realizing it is blurry. I felt so frantic trying to wash two filthy duffel bags full of stinky Soldier clothes.

The Hubs scrambled between two locations checking on our other Ranger School charge to make sure he was ok.

C. was holding his own quite well so the Hubs ran to the front desk, then back to the store, anywhere to load me up with more quarters. Tension was high…very high.

Neither one of us wanted to let our guys down yet it seemed hopeless that we could get all the clothes clean by the mandatory 6pm arrival.

And now let’s just talk for a moment about clean.

It’s all relative. There was not sufficient time for the clothes to be mama-clean. My standards were lowered, I had to be realistic.

No offense but the place reeked. When an employee happened by the laundry room, I flagged him for help. Open the windows! This didn’t provide much relief but it seemed the courteous thing to do for the other hotel guests. At times I was afraid to plunge my hand into the dark bag for another odoriferous bundle. Damp black trash bags knotted at the top forewarned me that I was approaching hazardous material. The deeper in the bag I got, the greater the risk. Seriously gross. Ridiculously smelly. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! Do I want to? I’d rather make him a green smoothie.

The treasures found in Nate's backpack. The rocks I found in his pockets made me want to cry. Just like when he was a little boy.

The treasures found in Nate’s backpack. The rocks I found in his pockets made me want to cry. Just like when he was a little boy.

With about an hour left before we had to take everyone back, I finished the laundry. Folding the t-shirts, sorting the socks, double-checking the pockets for any residue, I was content at the end of the day. What a sense of ac- complishment.

Yes, I wanted to do a better job but the clothes were much cleaner than they were eight hours previously.

The Hubs and I were exhausted but it was the least we could do for these hopeful Rangers. As the guys put on their freshly washed uniforms, it was a proud moment. We hugged goodbye, I tearfully kissed my sweet boy and they put their duffel bags on their shoulders, ready to return.

Looking better, smelling nicer, feeling like they were ready to do this. Rangers lead the way! Let's do this!

Looking better, smelling nicer, feeling like they were ready to do this. Rangers lead the way!

I will always ove this guy no matter how stinky he is or how gross his clothes are!

I will always love this guy no matter how stinky he is or how gross his clothes are!

Eight-hour pass from Ranger School, part two

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13. While recycling, (a Ranger School word which means they did not pass a phase of training), we learned that our son had perfected his painting skills. I’d like to think he was responsible for the impeccable craftmanship on this door just outside the barracks. We joked with one of Nate’s buddies that if the whole Ranger School thing didn’t turn out, they could easily get a job at Home Depot.*

14. We greeted our guys with hearty hugs and upon entering the car, we began feeding them.

15. In addition to fresh glazed donuts, they were served green smoothies without complaint. Before leaving Camp Rogers, our fellas had already ingested donuts, spinach, berries, peaches and bananas. It’s a mom thing. Yes, I did write on our car windows. Again, a mom thing.

16. Nate told us one of his buddies needed a little help and we gladly agreed. Basically we told our gang that we were here to serve. Boss us around, we’ll do anything. They were very appreciative.

Do you want to know something else? Not one complaint the entire time. No sleep, little food, physically, emotionally exhausted and we never heard one harsh word or observed any impatience toward us or each other.  True, the Hubs and I had a few rough patches due to stress during the day** but these men were simply grateful and humble. Maybe everyone needs Ranger School, just sayin.’

17. It warmed my heart to see people out there supporting their Ranger School guys. I know several people who weren’t able to make it to Fort Benning for the eight-hour pass but they still found creative ways to love their Soldiers. Some sent video messages, others got perfectly timed letters, I even know a girlfriend/mom team that sent their guy a package of gourmet chocolate fruit to greet him at his apartment.

18. One of Nate’s buddies is originally from the Chicago area and is also a West Point grad. Since I grew up in a suburb near his hometown and we have a son at school in Chicago, we wished we had some deep dish pizza for him. It was an honor to serve B. and care for him as his family would.

19. Upon arriving at Commando’s, our three charges frantically began getting gear and refits. We spent a considerable amount of time there. One of our guys purchased nearly $600 on supplies. This was a necessary visit but wow, the growing stench in the back of our vehicle was proof that another big priority was laundry. That particular event is worthy of at least  one solitary blog post.

20. I had been pushing turkey jerky, homemade chocolate chip cookies while in Commando’s. This is my boy with a green smoothie smile. He won’t be having those for quite a while and they all seemed to appreciate our efforts to feed them well. #momthing

21. The guys struck a good balance between allowing us to take care of them and taking responsiblity for their day. At long last, with their tummies slightly full of nutrition and their supplies re-stocked, we continued full force into the day. Tick, tick, tick…

* My husband worked the graveyard shift at Home Depot following three consecutive job lay-offs so Home Depot holds a special place in our hearts.

** Laundry induced stress, stay tuned.

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One foot forward – update on Nate and then some

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img_20111025_111305Originally published Oct. 25, 2011 –

There’s nothing more annoying than someone stealing your spotlight.

Not to be outdone, my tibia decided it was sick and tired of Nate’s ACL getting all the attention. So yesterday my left leg became encapsulated in an orthopedic boot for the next three weeks and I’m only to walk a total of one-two hours A DAY. That’ll teach Nate and his so-called ACL repair…OY!

Seriously though, my oldest OS is doing so well.

The Hubs went to visit him during a business trip and they bravely went to New York City.

It’s scary enough walking around the Big Apple as an able-bodied person but as you will soon see in this video clip, my OS took on NYC like a BOSS.

I love how the lady by the curb doesn’t even step aside as Nate comes barreling through. Nice. Thank you Mobilegs for making such a great product, your crutches have made such a difference in my son’s recovery.

img_20111009_1132461That awkward Cinderella moment between brothers – the shoe fits!

When Aaron and I were at West Point, I observed brotherly love in a fresh way.

Five years ago, almost to the day, Nate had his first ACL surgery.

Aaron and Ike attended to Nate in the manner fitting of a then 12 and 10-year-old.

One of the post-surgery highlights was when the two guys competed each day to see which brother could collect the most wee-wee from the urinal. Such a proud mommy moment.

Thankfully everyone has matured. My orange haired, freckle face almost 15-year-old stayed behind for driver’s ed but loaded up a box of treats for Nate replete with a funny card. He spoke to him regularly and showed sincere concern.

It was my middle OS that displayed such a servant’s heart, I found myself nearly thankful for Nate’s injury.

When Nate’s surgery was scheduled first thing in the morning, Aaron cheerfully awakened to join me at the hospital.

Anything Nate needed, Aaron offered to help.

Anything I needed, Aaron was equally joyful to do.

Fill Nate’s ice machine, get him fresh water, fluff his pillows, Aaron literally poured himself out to his brother and he was remarkably patient with me.

My boy sacrificed his own Fall break to help Nate and then only three days after getting home from New York, Aaron was the patient. He had wisdom teeth surgery!

It was my middle OS that displayed such a servant’s heart, I found myself nearly thankful for Nate’s injury.

When Nate’s surgery was scheduled first thing in the morning, Aaron cheerfully awakened to join me at the hospital.

Anything Nate needed, Aaron offered to help.

Anything I needed, Aaron was equally joyful to do.

Fill Nate’s ice machine, get him fresh water, fluff his pillows, Aaron literally poured himself out to his brother and he was remarkably patient with me.

My boy sacrificed his own Fall break to help Nate and then only three days after getting home from New York, Aaron was the patient. He had wisdom teeth surgery!

img_20111010_1011532It’s not the best quality picture but I captured a tender moment when it was time to say goodbye.

Of course, the lacrimal glands were activated as I hugged my boy’s neck.

We had such a treasured time together.

There was another WP mom picking up her son by Grant turn-around and she wiped tears from her eyes at the sight. Aaron carried his big brother’s laundry and stuff as Nate crutched back to life at West Point. Yes, I was crying.

But then I really lost it as Aaron accompanied Nate to the barracks.
Nate was limping along on his Mobilegs as Aaron carried Nate’s stuff back to his room.

Two beautiful, godly young men and brothers displaying love and gratitude.

They are there for each other.

They share joy and sorrow, struggles and success.

Neither distance, nor disability of any kind or length, nor differences will separate my three OS from each other. Ever.

Let it be so.

Colonel Kail is my friend

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I was so glad I asked Eric about all his decorations and medals. I wasn’t sure if that was appropriate to do but he explained each one and I was duly impressed.

Today I want to celebrate a military man who greatly influences my oldest OS, the Hubs and me.

Eric Kail and his family moved to North Carolina so he could pursue his PhD in organizational psychology at North Carolina State University. I first met his wife Gigi at a roller skating rink watching our kids go around the mindless oval.

At the time, I had no idea how much we would grow to love this couple. They were welcome additions to church and our Sunday School class. The Hubs and I enjoyed getting to know them and considered them funny, real and honest folks. I appreciated Eric’s service to our country but I underestimated his credentials.*

And when Gigi mentioned during lunch at Panera Bread that her dad had been the “Supe” at West Point, I’m pretty sure that didn’t faze me one way or the other. “Ok, so he was a ‘big wig’ at West Point, isn’t this salad delicious?” We just liked the Kail’s plain and simple.

Fast forward a few years and upon successful completion of his studies at NC State, the Kail’s got stationed in Seoul, Korea for two years.

We were sad and honestly didn’t think we would see them again this side of heaven.

But God has an interesting way of bringing people together again and in the fall of 2007, our oldest OS suddenly declared his desire to go to West Point. Although they were in Korea and we were still in North Carolina, our lives began syncing back together. The words “West Point” that I had taken for granted now had great meaning. Why did they have to live so far away when we needed to talk and figure this thing out?

Eric began to call us from Korea. He gave us insight and prepared us for the road ahead. The night he told us the brutal truth about Beast and R-Day, I distinctly remember collapsing on the carpet in our office. Nathan might be able to do West Point but I knew I couldn’t! Eric didn’t mince words about how hard it would be to say goodbye to our son but I also trusted his honesty and the confidence he had in all of us.

Even when Army loses, if you’re with the Kail’s, it’s a good time!

The next thing you know Nate finishes his plebe year and the Kail’s get stationed at West Point! I never saw this coming! We stay with the Kail’s when we go to see our OS and our friendship is rekindled. Army football games, Ring Weekend, Nate has knee surgery in the fall of his firstie year and the Kail’s are to the rescue.

Nate comes to rely on Colonel Kail’s wisdom and advice and does an occasional load of laundry at their house. Their hospitality is unmatched and we always feel at home in their midst.

Most importantly so does Nate, it’s almost like they have a secret bond being Army men that we as civilian parents don’t and that’s perfectly fine.

I can’t tell you how many times my OS would say to me, “I really like Colonel Kail. I’m going to talk to him about something. He’s a good guy.”

Nate getting his butter bars

So when Nate was planning graduation from West Point, the choice was easy on whom he wanted to commission him as an officer. Colonel Kail of course.

But now there was a big problem…cancer.

In March, Eric was diagnosed with stage 4 transitional cell carcinoma.

Stage 4 simply means that the cancer had spread to other parts of his body from the original source.

Although nowhere near his vital organs, Eric started chemotherapy right away. Nate was crestfallen when I told him about Colonel Kail’s illness. I remember telling him the news while he was visiting his girlfriend in El Salvador, I felt Nate needed to know right away. My OS was incredulous and heartbroken, he took it very hard.

In April, the Hubs had a business trip and arranged to stay at the Kail’s and hang out with Nate simultaneously.

Fresh off of surgery, preparing for his chemo treatments, that’s when Nate asked his mentor if he would do him the honor of swearing him in as an officer in the Army.

Without hesitation Eric said yes though we have learned that he has turned others down in the past. We waited and hoped it would be.

Colonel Kail and Nate during the oath ceremony. Um, yes, I was a little choked up. I love seeing the Hubs’ hands on my back offering support. So emotional!

And it was.

On a sultry afternoon just before a torrential rainstorm blew into the Hudson River, right outside the Cadet Chapel, Nate lifted his right hand.

With the American flag in the background, our family, Gigi, Lu and her dad gathered around as Nate repeated the oath as instructed by the highly decorated Colonel Kail.

The person Nate most wanted to perform this ceremony was there.

Yes, I was crying.

Yes, as a result I had a horrible time trying to put Nate’s “butter bars” on his uniform.

Yes, I needed my glasses.

But God had arranged this day before the fullness of time. To see my OS being sworn in by his beloved mentor was a thing of beauty. When I think about how many  pieces had to fall in place for this moment to have arrived, it astonishes me. The Lord had planned every detail and even orchestrated an “off” week for chemo treatments thereby allowing Eric to  have the enough strength to do this. We serve a mighty God indeed.

I underestimated Eric’s credentials! Wow!

I’m not sure Eric has any idea what he means to my son and how much it meant to have him perform the oath ceremony.

That’s why I’m writing this today. He deserves to hear it. So let me declare to all reading this Eric Kail has richly blessed my son!

Let me further state Eric Kail has richly blessed my son not only as a man, but as a Soldier and a brother in Christ!

And if I may, since I have the floor, let me proclaim this to the end of time We consider the Kail’s to be a gift from our Heavenly Father and are humbled to call them lifelong friends! 

Here are a few of Eric’s credentials…not too shabby. And you can read more about Eric’s leadership reflections in the Washington Post by clicking here and here.

*In addition to being my friend, an awesome dad and husband to the smoking hot Gigi, Eric Kail is a Colonel in the United States Army. He has served for over 25 years as an Army Field Artillery Officer in both conventional and special operations units. He has several combat deployments, including Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. Eric also has a PhD in organizational psychology. His latest assignment was as the course director for military leadership at West Point.

Check out this post for a incredible story about Colonel Kail.

And update as of July 25, 2013: Our West Point grad, Nate wrote this beautiful tribute about Colonel Kail after Eric went to be with the Lord. Reading it will bless your heart.

Spiritual Commissioning Ceremony

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The Hubs and I workin’ it at West Point, you gotta

Sitting in the hair salon, black smock snapped up around my neck, oh yes, you know it, I was a thing of beauty when my stylist asked me about the West Point graduation. At last distance and perspective are finally allowing me to drink in the enormity of the events. Thank you Julian for a fine haircut and a necessary reflection on life.With the ligature of exhaustion behind me, I’ve summarized that if Graduation Week was a car it would have been a cherry red Maserati with Lindsay Lohan behind the wheel. Fast. Full throttle. Overwhelming.

Hat toss!

We were spent, emotionally, physically and financially. At times, I wasn’t sure I could do one more early morning departure and high intensity event. And although the actual graduation ceremonies were truly epic, they were eclipsed by what happened afterward.

Upon receiving his diploma, Nate went to finalize things back at the barracks. Our gang headed to the Cadet Chapel for an event organized by Officers’ Christian Fellowship.

We were so happy to get something to eat and drink before the ceremony!

After the sponsored lunch reception, we walked into the chapel. For the second time that day, our son’s name was read and this time, he joined the other newly minted officers up to the front of the church. Still mottled with sweat but thanks to ice cold bottled water and a sandwich, I now had a small amount of energy to prepare me for what was next.

Nate and the others were asked to find their families in the chapel. Tom, who is an LTC, a West Point grad and the current OCF coordinator, instructed each of the 2LTs to locate a place where they could be prayed over individually. That’s when Nate knelt down before us. Head bowed and silent, the Hubs and I, followed by his two younger brothers placed our hands over this gift from God. I laid claim to Nate’s freshly shorn head and tenderly held his face in a way he has allowed me to as his mom. He was wearing his dress uniform for the first time in public. So handsome and strong. The Hubs had a firm grasp of one of Nate’s shoulders, Aaron and Ike rested their hands on the other.

Nate had just demonstrated a profound act of service and submission as an Officer in the United States Army and as a Christ follower.

An intimate family moment captured

Somber and reverent, we entered the sacred moment. Nate’s girlfriend and her dad traveled all the away from El Salvador and my stepfather were present and remained seated. I wonder what it must have been like to be an observer, to catch words and facial expressions filling the chapel.

Protuberant pride and unspeakable humility were shared by all even though I heard only the prayers of my clan.

I have been privileged to pray for and with my children. We have prayed for their health, salvation and future, even things like basketball games, grades and friendships. On one hand, you could say we are skilled prayer warriors but I wouldn’t recommend that. Yet despite years of experience, I have never felt so spiritually raw as I did during this moment.

My awesome, exhausted, sweaty and dehydrated olive shoots

What do you adequately say to God when your child has successfully completed this 47 month journey? Are there even words in human language to express to the Lord all the thankfulness a mama can contain for bringing her child thus far? And how you do ask the Author of Life to protect your baby without sounding selfish because you mean it truly from the bottom of your heart for all the other Soldiers everywhere in harm’s way?

So glad someone took this picture of us

So this is when the Hubs and I began to lose it. Tears streaming, hearts open wide, we supplicated and spoke to our Heavenly Father. Oh we were a fright to be sure, stripped of our own energy, but there we were – a daddy praying for his boy, a pink hair-streaked mama inclining the ear of the Lord and two knuckle-headed brothers spiritually lifting up their big brother. Not a traditional Norman Rockwell scene but I hope it was a beautiful picture in God’s sight.

The West Point part of our adventure draws to a close but the memories usher in. A deeper level of faith and trust are now required. Yes, it’s a lot to absorb. If you have read this, you have blessed me and helped me more than you know.

And this is what happened to me at the hair salon in June and on a steamy day in May at West Point. I’m glad Julian asked, I must be ready for this. Lord, let it be so. ❤

Sorting and savoring, two graduations, 10 days apart

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Stand up and take a bow. Curtain closes on another chapter.

It’s that let-down feeling you have after everything is said and done.

Your busy plans are complete,

bags are emptied,

things are sort of back in place

and despite a moment of rest,

you are still utterly exhausted and drained.

Your company has left and life is back to normal – that is until your husband has meniscus surgery this Wednesday.

And looking at you and your sassy pink-haired self, no one would know all that’s been going on because you appear to be coping.

But the fact is you are struggling and you (in this case me) wrestle with conflicting emotions.

Clear as mud, huh?

Without getting too personal because blogs like that make me uncomfortable, this is how I’m feeling.

In some strange way, it seems as if nothing happened because so much happened and it’s just too hard to process. It’s postpartum depression minus the baby. I scarce can take it all in.

Two graduations in nine days in two different states is not for the faint of heart.

Of all the stressful things I have done in my life, having those two events so close to each other is wayyyy high up there on the things I wouldn’t choose to repeat.

Both moments were so significant and emotional, there wasn’t time to absorb one without quickly being distracted by the other.

As a result, I’m stunned.

What did we just do?

Where did we just go and come back from (and I don’t even care about the questionable grammar)?

How much money did we spend?

Why am I both full of emotion yet in empty despair?

The denouement of Aaron’s high school graduation and Nate’s graduation from the United States Military Academy needed their own proper time. Kind of like my arthritic right knee, there wasn’t and isn’t any cushion.

After a graduation celebration with some of Nate’s friends and their families, the Hubs and I were driving on Bear Mountain Bridge.

Nate and I after the graduation parade. I really loved that shining brass buckle. Very shiny.

Our tummies were full of delicious food from Foodies and it was early evening.

The United States Military Academy, an outline of the stately concrete structures were off in the distance.

The view called out to my mama’s heart.

Amber lights sparkled from the windows, the Hudson River sat tranquil and tears streamed from my eyes.

Tears are currently streaming from my eyes as I type this, thank you very much.

Cadets are still in these rooms, I thought to myself.

They are busy doing things, I mused, but strangely, my boy is no longer there.

How could that be???  His (and thusly my) 47 month journey had ended just hours before and everyone had seemingly moved on.

Ring Weekend was such a beautiful night! Now it’s all done!

Nate was ready.

I guess I was not.

As the Hubs kept his eyes on the road, I couldn’t help but reach out and grab that little West Point with my fingers.

Between my thumb and my pointer finger, I held West Point there as long as I could before we passed it by.

I can never grasp what this place has meant to my OS or to me.

I can find reasons to return to West Point but none will be for my boy as a plebe, yuk, cow or firstie.

The pangs of this reality sting and confuse.

He loved that place.

He hated it.

It was so far away.

I loved coming there.

What tumult of spirit!

No sooner had Nate graduated from USMA, then he bolted from Michie Stadium along with nearly 1000 other newly commissioned officers and finished turning in all their stuff.

There wasn’t any sentiment in the departure and it reminded me of the 90 second goodbye we had been issued on R-Day, that never to be forgotten day.

No built-in cushion there that’s for sure.

Pride, humility, loss, gain, and so much more jumble inside.

I expect to be working through these experiences and emotions for quite some time because that’s what a mama does, right?

My boy, that uniform, what memories

I’d love to hear from you if you can relate. West Point mom or not, you might empathize. Thanks for listening…

My boy, that uniform, what memories

Thanksgiving days pondering blessings after ACL surgery

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IMG_20111004_172906

It’s been a few days since my last post but Nate has returned to class per doctor’s orders.

IMG_20111007_172711The rigors of a grueling academic schedule, a long-distance love affair, and an active social life are a heavy load to carry by themselves when you’re a firstie at West Point.

But Nate must now add frequent physical therapy visits to his busy life.

I do not envy him but of this I’m certain, my OS can do it.

Now at home, I am reflecting on the blessings because they abounded during our journey to New York. At times, I find myself just SMH (a term I noticed so often on facebook, I had to google it).

IMG_20111006_094816SMH – shaking my head and that’s what I’m doing at the cornucopia of sublime treasures we experienced. If I didn’t share them and attempt in some measure to take stock in the blessings, it wouldn’t seem right.

Weather – gentle autumn days teased us with a sense that colder temps soon awaited. During our entire stay, we enjoyed bright sun, blue skies and trees just starting to change colors. During the trip to New York, Aaron and I even spotted a rainbow in the sky. Me likey rainbows in the sky!

IMG_20111004_134657Traffic – what traffic? This was a big concern of mine because I’m not a great traveler and I’m even worse when my given mode of trans- portation isn’t moving. Pretty sure this will never happen again but we cruised along the highways!

Destination – And get this, we hardly ever got lost! I can’t make my way out of a paper bag but going from our home in North Carolina to New York and back again was practically effortless. I was convinced Aaron and I would be hopelessly directionally challenged even using the GPS but we all worked so well together!

Whether it was the curry chicken salad my friend Gigi made for us, the calzones at Schades, the lunch platters at Foodies, our tummies were full of deliciousness.

Laundry – since we stayed at a friend’s house for several days, I got to wash clothes. It does a mama good to do the laundry for her Soldier. Gigi’s hospitality gave Aaron and I a relaxing place to chill.

Crutches – A West Point mom told me about Mobilegs and you should have seen Nate zipping along on these after surgery! We went to WalMart just two days after surgery and I had to start walking in front of him just to help the shoppers realize a guy with crutches was barreling toward them! He didn’t give them time to react. Someone was going to get hurt and I didn’t think it was going to be my Soldier!IMG_20111004_204206

Healing – ACL surgery is painful but my oldest OS was a model patient. Helping my family is a special joy to me and Nate appreciated anything we did for him which only made me want to do more.

Friends – the prayers and loving support of many people are good medicine for the body and soul. One West Point mom made a bunch of delicious homemade caramels for her daughter’s Army sports team and guess what she did? She dropped off THREE bags of it for my crew! Dark chocolate, rich caramel with a hint of sea salt…oh.my.word. Please don’t ask how many I ate versus how many the patient and his brother enjoyed. All’s I’m gonna say is I deserved it. Final answer. 

Another mom and her family back in NC made Nate homemade cards and caramel corn. Nate now has two homemade bookmarks from little kids who encouraged him. They are Marine kids which makes it even more fantastic! The dad drove the treats over to my house the night before we left, such thoughtfulness.

Throughout Nate’s days of recuperation, I would bring him small gifts from others. It was remarkable how each gift was perfect timing for him. Whether it was the Batman undies from his dad, the PopTarts from his grandparents, the Amazon gift card from his aunt and uncle, the cash from his grandpa or the weird plastic caterpillar from the orange hair, freckle faced youngest brother, there was a sense of love and community from all around.

And I’m not done. There are more blessings but on this perfect autumn day, I’m going to bask in these gifts. May I suggest you do the same. Not in my blessings which I pray bring you a measure of joy but on yours, they are there even if you have to look a little harder. I hope you find them today, my friends.

More soon,

“Um, thanks Dad for the Batman briefs…”IMG_20111008_163311