Friday, August 26, 2011

My Parents: A Love Story

Last week I stumbled across a website called "The Burning House," consisting of photographs of  material items people would grab if their homes were on fire. On the spot, I could think of very few items to put in my own photo, but with a week under my belt, I realized that I'd grab my father's jewelry box. Not because it's full of rubies and emeralds and pearls...mind you, there's something more valuable, to me, in that box. When I cleaned out Mom's house, this was high on my list of things to find, and take with me:

An old wallet, with $1 tucked inside.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My Mom and Dad married in 1962, in San Diego, California, where he was stationed in the navy. He used to drive her crazy by telling people that he was just walking down the sidewalk when my mother, standing on a street corner, yelled "Hey, Sailor." If you knew how prim and proper my mother was, you'd know that it would embarrass her every time, and she'd insist he tell the real story: They were dance skaters; they met at the roller rink.

A funny story that really happened is that he invited her to skate with him repeatedly at the "Couple's Only" song. Ladies' Choice wasn't called very often back in 1961, but when it finally rolled around, Dad was stunned when Mom invited another guy to skate with her. Mom would giggle for years after, when telling us the story, saying "I don't know why I did that!"

I guess her playing hard-to-get worked, because they married within 2 months of meeting one another at that rink.

One of the stories they told us often, about their young love, pertains to the wallet above. Mom wasn't working, and Dad didn't make a bundle serving for the Navy, so they were often broke when the end of the month rolled around. Dad would hock his skates in a pawn shop on a regular basis, and then return to buy them back when he got paid.

There was one particular month in which they were just out—out of money and out of food—and facing a long Sunday with neither. They'd make it another day, when Dad got paid, but the story goes they were starving by mid day. So hungry, we were told, that one of them finally said "Let's just go take a walk so we'll stop thinking about it."

Hand-in-hand they hit the sidewalk to get their minds off of their hunger, when—maybe you've  guessed it by now—they found this wallet. It had $3 and no I.D. in it!! Oh, the hugging and rejoicing, once they overcame their disbelief!

This is my Mom's handwriting, slipped in the wallet now, with the $1 bill. They opted to get a bowl of chili and go to a movie with their new riches—which they could both do for less than $2. I wondered if that could possibly true, and did a little research on the 1961 prices. Here's a menu I found online:

The soup du jour costs .20 and .30. A movie ticket seems to be running about .50, and I wonder if it was even cheaper on the naval base. According to the note, they spent $1.90 on their impromptu date, and had $1 left over.

The $1 in the wallet now is that same dollar. They made a vow to each other to tuck the wallet away, thus ensuring that together they would never again have a net worth of less than one dollar.

This story was always told to my sister and I with the closing point that if you love one another, you're going to get by. That you can be happy with a little money, and a lot of laughter. That life might get tough, sometimes, but love will see you through.

The wallet, and the dollar, and the story that accompany it, are precious to me. It's a reminder of their lifelong love for one another, and for me and Teri. It's reinforcement of the lessons they taught us about what is and what is not important in life. And now that it is mine, it is insurance that I will also, never, have less than one dollar.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Under My Skin

I heard on the news this morning that today is the 1-year anniversary of the last military combat brigade coming home from Iraq. Yeah, I had a grump over that a year ago, when I wrote this post, entitled "Last Brigade Home? Can I have a Word, Please?" Feel free to have another look.

I grumble there because of the media/government spin on that event. As the world celebrated, my kid was still in Iraq, with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team-3ID.

They returned home on September 27, 2010, and 3 months later, in January 2011, he was shipped back to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin in California to began training, again, to deploy to Iraq. With a Combat Brigade. 

It was a month-long school, and they returned to Texas for further training, more practice—day practice, and night practice, in-the-hot-sun practice and pouring-rain-until-midnight practice. Five more months they trained and practiced, until their deployment date, in July.

They weren't practicing yard work, people. They weren't practicing cake-baking, or sewing, or changing tires. They were practicing spotting the enemy. Markmanship. Looking for roadside bombs. Staying alert under exhaustion, and keeping an eye out 360 degrees around them. Using equipment and radios and communicating with one another to save each others lives, and their own. They were practicing and training in combat.

There isn't a lot that has me walking around spitting nails, but the spin on this morning's news grates on me. Brian accompanied over 600 soldiers to their flight a few weeks ago, and 600 more the next day. Combat troops, they were. Do we pretend they're not there?!

Rawrf! I just did you a big favor and deleted 4 more paragraphs of ranting. I'll wander off to another like subject instead.


In the end, as I mentioned here before, Brian was granted his 1-year dwell time, and he did not deploy. He is instead going to school after school. He just finished a Warrior Leader Course, and is training now for an Air Assault school in October. Yesterday he had to do a 12-mile ruck march with only 40 lbs of gear on his back. He skipped the advice to wear pantyhose, and here's a photo of his (right, I think) thigh, as a result:

He has a matching left thigh, and today had more physical testing, this time a series of obstacle courses and repelling from towers. He was going to be an uncomfy boy. After my first question ("Can can I blog your thigh?"), I informed him that there's a product called BodyGlide, sort of like a deodorant stick, that is supposed to prevent this chafing. I picked one up at Body 'n Sole today, and popped it in the mail, then sent him this text:

God, my kid makes me laugh. The BodyGlide will be too little too late, but at least he'll have it next time he needs it. And there's always pantyhose.


Oh, wait--ANOTHER thing that grumbles me a little bit, while I'm the subject of my soldier babies. People, this is a trauma bay that looks like most any other trauma bay in Any Hospital, U.S.A.:

And this is one that one of our soldier babies, Jerrica, just posted recently. This is the trauma bay she works in, right now, every day, in Iraq. 

Which one would you choose for your loved one to be treated in, if she or he had a traumatic injury?

I understand our troops aren't living in the lap of luxury when they deploy, but I still often panic when I get a clearer sense of what they have to work with.

Sigh. As always, dear reader, if you're interested in sending a care package to a soldier, email me at

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Impatiens Motivations: Drink Your Water

I've been making a haphazard attempt, lately, to take better care of myself. Not sure why it can seem more difficult on some days than on others, or why I have a tendency to fall by the wayside when I feel so high & mighty when I'm doin' it right and have results to show for it.

Anyway, while I'm getting up the umph to cut up vegetables, I do have a daily motivator that keeps me on track with my 8 glasses of water: My own flower bed. My impatiens, in particular, are little drama queens if a day gets by me that I forget to water them:

This photo (above) is the sorry state I found them after one of those 106-degree heat index days we had recently. Everyone in central Illinois felt kind of like this for about 2 weeks.

I apologized profusely, gave them a good long soaking, then returned later for another picture. This is the same plant, 30 minutes later:

I imagine water probably does the same thing for me as it does those flowers: makes me stand a little taller, plumps out the wilty lines and wrinkles, and, in general, makes me bloom a little brighter.

Now if I could just find a blossom that will motivate me to haul myself out of bed and go walking at 5 a.m. every morning, I'd be set.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Benefit for Seth Deedrick Medical Bills: Sunday August 14

You may or may not know that my father was a biker in his golden years. When he passed away, his Harley brothers all showed up to the funeral and escorted the procession 45 miles to the cemetery. This photo was taken from the back of my car that day.


Brothers and sisters. And nieces...front and left, is my cousin, Tammy Deedrick. She and Dad were close, and she was first biker in the procession. Because family does.
And now it's time for us to do. Tammy's 11-year-old son, Seth Deedrick, had heart surgery last Saturday. There were complications with a mytral valve replacement, and he ended up coming home with a shiny new pacemaker.

As you can imagine, it's been a stressful time. Seth showed up for surgical prep a few weeks ago, and his surgery was postponed. Nothing like getting a kid—and his Mom, for heck sake—along with all of the community all stressed out and then postponing! As luck would have it, they ran into this group of soldiers from the U.S. Air Force when they got back to the hotel, and they all gathered around for this photo. Tammy asked that if I posted this photo on my blog, I tell those guys thank you, and God Bless.

As we are all aware, medical expenses of any sort are exorbitant, and we're rallying to alleviate those costs for the Deedrick family. There's a big-big fund-raising party this Sunday at The Stop, on North 45 in Urbana to raise some bucks to help them out. There will be a motorcycle rodeo, music, food, fun, and a donation jar. Please come on out, whether you have 5 bucks or 10 or 50...every little bit counts.

Benefit for Seth Deedrick Medical Bills
Sunday, August 14, 2011
12:00 -9:00 p.m.

The Stop Bar & Grill
3515 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Motorcycle rodeo
Live music, featuring Renegade, Triple OT Buck, and AD/HD

Seth is recovering well, and we're hoping that he'll be able to make a short appearance sometime Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blogging Pendulum

I've horked it up here before: I started my blog in 2005 with whimsy and one-liners, and progressed to wearing my heart in my posts when my son enlisted. Then life got serious for a few years (it's all there in the archives). That, coupled with the convenience of Facebook, I, along with a lot of blogging friends, have kind of let the blog go. 12 posts a month have dwindled to one, if I'm industrious.

I have lately been thrilled to see several fellow bloggers returning to their posts. The pendulum seems to be swinging back from the "tag, you're it!" instant commentary and gratification to something deeper, and more thoughtful. Many of mine are wandering back to where they left off, or starting their blogs anew, once again.

I love it. Talent has been wasted, and I've missed the insights and updates from so many smart, charming, and funny people.

There's been a bit of a reprieve in my own life. The clouds are lifting. I've taken a few months to learn to breath again, and I'm beginning to get in on the "I miss my Blog" revolution.

I have never stopped carrying a camera with me. I take photos almost every day. There is so much out there, so many interesting people, and signs, and scenes. I have more to say than can be said once every 30 days, and I realize that not everything has to be prolific and gut-wrenching.

I think I'm ready to restore dance and whimsy to my life, and to my blog.

So here's a chipmunk.

I'll be back in a few.