Life is Fragile

On July 3, 2011, my daughter had an emergency c-section and my triplet grandchildren were born at 26 weeks 5 days at 2.8 lbs, 2.4 lbs. and 1.11 lbs. After three months in the hospital NICU, our miracle babies came home on Oct.1. I am sleepless helping with the babies but filled with such joy! We celebrate the birth of these grandchildren, their lives, and who they will become.

My new grandson, Oscar Fredrick was born on Oct. 30th. As parents and grandparents we pray and worry and work each day to nurture these fragile new lives until our little ones are grown.

I can’t imagine the deep sorrow of losing a child. My heart cries with the families and friends of the 17 people killed in Kabul by a suicide bomber in the attack on Oct. 29, 2011. A dozen of those who perished were American NATO soldiers.

As I hold my grand babies, I ask you to join me  as we hold the victims and the families of this attack in prayer.

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Celebrate Military Kids With Online Activities

The Military Family Network has teamed up with K12 and is celebrating  military kids.  Check out this link for fun, free, interactive online activities about our nation’s constitution.

“Through these cool, educational activities, military kids will develop a deeper understanding of our nation’s founding principles, our rights and freedoms, as well as America’s ideals. These activities for all ages will help military children grow in awareness about their role and service to America’s freedom.”

God bless  our troops and their families.

From the Mouth of Babes: 3rd. Grade Song Goes Viral

Picture from Colonial Heights City Council -Souders Family

Tussing Elementary (Colonial Heights, Virginia) students sing a song of thanks to our soldiers written by their teacher, Michael Souders and his wife, Angela. Michael said, “I wanted a song that would be very personal that they (3rd graders) could sing directly to our soldiers…We love our heroes our veterans and current serving soldiers.”

Thank you, oh thank you to these soldiers that I know personally: Katelyn, Brian, Kris, Eddie, Philip, and Zach and to all our troops and veterans. Prayers continue until you are home safely with those who love you.

Click here to see their song with images of soldiers.

Wave the Flags the 3/25 is Home!

Several moms wrote stories about their Marines from the 3/25 in Love You More Than You Know.  These brave troops have their boots on the ground at home after seven months of deployment! The second wave of Marines from the 3/25 will return at the end of March.

Suffering heavy casualties on their previous tour in Iraq, we are so grateful that our prayers have been answered and all have returned safely from Afghanistan.

Watch this emotional video from Fox 8 as families are reunited. A young father meets his baby son for the first time saying there is nothing better than  holding him and kissing him in person! Welcome home and thank you for your service.

3/25 Homecoming

Share Your Stories

We would be honored to have you share the stories of your very own heroes! We believe that writing our stories helped us deal with the swirling emotions we felt when our sons and daughters were deployed.

Please go to the Welcome tab at the top of the page for information on telling us your story. Katherine is the mother of two soldiers. Her story is about her daughter’s deployment and what it is like to live a year without your daughter in your arms. God bless our servicemen and women. Bring them safely home to those who love them.

A Year Without by Katherine Harris Szerdy

A Year Without by Katherine Harris Szerdy

Sending a child to war is one of the hardest things a mother has to live through. Having two children deployed at the same time is unimaginable.  This courageous mother of two deployed soldiers describes what it is like having a daughter deployed in the ongoing poem, A Year Without. Please pray for this family and all the families of deployed troops. God bless our servicemen and women until they are safe in our arms again.

A Year Without by Katherine Harris Szerdy

At the tender age of seven,

you mastered the art of pinning your long blonde hair

into a tight bun for ballet.

Seems like just yesterday.

Eleven years later, you stepped out of your pointe shoes and into Army Boot

Camp, drill sergeants mandating pull-ups rather than pirouhettes. Did you say you ranked “sharpshooter”?

Seems like yesterday you danced for Jesus.

Day after day, a dull ache weighs heavy on my heart,

sometimes tugs violently,

hearing reports of the day’s casualties.

–The drastic decline in water and electric usage and grocery bills

yielding in significant financial savings (LOL!)

won’t even begin to make up for

A year without…

Mom/daughter lunch dates at our favorite Dave’s Cosmic Sub Shop

and Starbucks after-dinner coffee dates

and SOS calls to AAA when the Sebring needs some TLC

and moody monthlies

and fashion shows pirouetting your latest fashion finds

and sweet whispers overheard during midnight calls with “The Boy”

and knowing glances from across the room

and cleaning fests while singing your heart out to iTunes,

spinning in your socks on shiny oak floors,

and sharing the latest shampoo brands

or Sephora make-up tricks

or comparing OPI colors on toes

and the joy of hearing about your most memorable Yours Truly customer of the day–

Tom, the town historian sporting his signature bow tie, always impeccably dressed or

the Reids, Kirk and Dot, the adorable Presbyterian couple

married 59 years, who always leave a 15% tip to the penny,

and who left a message on our answering machine last week to tell us

they would be praying for you

each and every day,

and Dave and Casey, twin brothers, Hudson’s very own Click & Clack.

It’s not getting any easier you know–180 days in…

I miss those late night Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice marathons

and witnessing you fall in love with Matisse on a trip to the Cleveland Art Museum

so much so that you went out and bought your first set of paints and canvas

and watching you solve Sudoku puzzles faster than it takes me to brush my teeth

and putting together 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles before the dinner dishes are put away

and interpreting last night’s dreams

and enjoying our first experience in a real French restaurant together

and your placating “the Mom” on Mother’s Day by taking me to High Tea

or church on Sunday

HOW

do I possibly enjoy a moment of this convenient existence

knowing that my daughter is over there

sacrificing an entire year, 1/23nd of her life,

her senior year at Kent State,

laying her life on the line each and every one of the 365 days

for a cause greater than herself

HOW

can I lounge in air conditioning as she struggles to sip

breatheable air through her mask during a sandstorm

HOW

can I take a drive in my Buick LaCrosse, windows rolled down,

breeze blowing through my hair,

or enjoying heated leather seats in winter’s cold,

knowing she sits strapped tight in a sling seat in the fuselage of a C130

or hunkered down, transported over hopelessly rocky, mountainous terrain

HOW

can I crash on the couch for a luxurious afternoon nap

while she struggles to sleep with shells exploding in the not-too-distance

or to wake up each day to the same routine–work 12 hours, run, chow, sleep, work 12 hours, run, chow, sleep…

in the haze of Afghan heat

HOW

can I walk freely down tree-lined streets admiring manicured lawns

without thinking of her trudging under the burden of a 60-pound pack

unable to step outside bounded territory.

HOW

do I lunch with a friend at the newest bistro in town

dressed in a lovely lined lavendar linen sheath

knowing a girlfriend lunch for her means

the monotony of mess hall meat and potato cuisine

with boiled lobster and steak as the big treat on Fridays

or ripping open an MRE

with her Battle Buddy, dressed in ACUs a lovely shade of cammie,

while sitting,

waiting,

in blazing 115 degree heat.

HOW

do I take a leisurely shower with spa accessories

without thinking about her feeling lucky to get two minutes

under cold water…and a bar of soap.

We watch the evening news and wonder

What is not being told

because these stories won’t sell advertising dollars

or appease political agendas…

You’ve told us your work saves lives–

I read between the lines that this work is

meaningful for you despite the

colorless

lifeless

setting of the mountains of Afghanistan.

What stories will you have to tell your grandchildren?

My prayer continues–that God shelters you from memories

needing to be buried, and blesses you with sweet dreams

of home and a bright future.

So I keep a visual journal, recording details about meaningful moments and seasons you missed.

Frank, Al, Susie, Joe, Buttercup, and Bob, the mutant Algae-eater, continue to thrive.

I take great pride that I haven’t lost one! 🙂

No, ZeeZee and BeeBee haven’t forgotten you.

Jeremy still stops over to check up on us…we love him for that.

I wonder if you’ve had time to respond to

comments I wrote in Sue Monk Kidd’s mother/daughter memoir,

And wonder what you’ll think about the new living room arrangement

and whether you’ll be surprised that NOTHING has changed in your room

except that I ironed and put away your last load of laundry

and kept your room clean and tucked away a few treasures I thought you might enjoy –

to be discovered when you are home on leave.

Dad wonders if you’ll recognize all the changes he’s made in the house since you left (he kept a list) 🙂

I count the days until you are home on leave

so I can perhaps sleep through the night

I continue to pray each night at 0230

And send up breath prayers throughout the day

And cling to my faith 24/7

until you and your brother and your cousins are back on American soil and

the buses pull back into the Armory

under Vietnam Vet motorcyle escort and

we can cut both yellow ribbons off the oak tree

and you are safe in my arms again.

Check out Katherine’ s blog at http://mamagram.wordpress.com/

In the Spirit of Honor

I received a letter from Beatrice Mitchell, an 81 year old mother of a Vietnam veteran.  She sent me some articles and documents saying,”I offer this in the spirit of honor due our military men and women and their families whose sacrifices will always remain unmeasurable.”  This poem is written by Beatrice. Please hold our servicemen and women and our veterans in prayer, especially those who are not able to be home for the holidays.

Vietnam’s Pieta

She carried him gently, without haste

In her arms to his resting place.

Things that could hurt him

And things he could break

She kept out of reach when her babe

Was awake

“Don’t talk to strangers nor accept a treat

Look both ways before you cross the street

And stay out of puddles on your way to school

Remember to follow the Golden Rule.”

A young man now, on his way to the prom.

A boy only yesterday, where had the years gone?

“Look out for that curve on old Mill Road.

Drive carefully son and don’t overload.”

Her prayers for him that also blessed us,

She whispered for him as he left on the bus.

The unshed tears that shown in her eyes

Were bravely withheld through her smiles and goodbyes.

Like great birds that hover when life’s returning to dust

The Black Hawks of mercy did not for flesh lust

When after the battle they plucked from the ground

The dead and the wounded from Vietnam.

No cautions for him on Mill Road today.

His car moved slowly as he passed that way

In a heavy box, draped in triad hue

They carefully folded the red, white, and blue

And placed it in her arms, now with tears on her face

She carried it gently as a babe to his resting place.

Patriotic Singer

Jimmy Flynn

I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Jimmy Flynn at the Bedford Flag Retirement Ceremony last weekend. Jimmy led us in singing at the ceremony and has written and performs original patriotic songs. “I’m On My Knees Today (A Soldier’s Parent’s Prayer)” is sung from the perspective of an American parent whose son in the Armed Forces is leaving for war. Jimmy says, “To date, it is the least orchestrated of all my songs, but I think it is the most appropriate rendition. My heart goes out to all parents of current military personnel. Their worry and anxiety must be overwhelming. This song is as much a tribute to them as it is a prayer for their child’s safekeeping and worldwide peace.” Keep on singing Jimmy. Check out Jimmy’s website.

Kennedy Stone House Veteran’s Courtyard

On a trip to Salt Fork State Park this weekend, I had the chance to explore an historic building. The Kennedy Stone House was built in 1840 from native sandstone quarried on the property. The house cost $600. Benjamin Kennedy, 23 years old, purchased the 80 acre tract of land on Sugar Creek, in southern Ohio.

The House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and has been restored. A special addition to the home is a veteran’s memorial in the courtyard honoring all of our soldiers from the past to the present.

The marker states,” In honor of all who have served as members of the military service of the United States of America . . . May their heritage be peace.”

Although times and house prices have changed, we still want the same thing. Peace. God bless our brave men and women and bring them home to their families.

Giving Back

Ralph & Noel Burr (left side) Michele Chapdelaine, (back row right side) Kathy O'Donnell, Brian Walrath

It’s 2pm on Monday. I open the door and walk inside the room. Music plays quietly in the background. Five volunteers sort donations at the USO site in Brainbridge, Ohio.

Michele Chapdelaine says, ” I’m here in Jeff’s honor. My son serves, and I joined the USO so I can serve. ”  Michele’s son,  Jeff is currently deployed to Afghanistan.

Noel Burr, author of “What’s a Mother to Do?” in Love You More Than You Know, and her husband Ralph, a retired Army Colonel, help run this site. Noel and Ralph started packing boxes at the Chagrin Falls Armory in 2003 when their daughter Kathy was deployed to Kuwait. These parents continue to be involved with the USO. Noel says, “It makes us feel connected.”

Kathy O’Donnell told me her husband, Admiral Bill O’Donnell, was in the Reserves for 32 years. “I volunteer at the USO because I’m an American and want these guys and gals to be taken care of !

Brian Walrath carries boxes into the room. “I was one of those kids 40 years ago and thought I would do something for these kids today.”

Thank you to these volunteers and all those who give back by supporting our troops. Donations for this USO site can be dropped off at Highway Garage, 8410 E. Washington, Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44023. There is a box inside the door marked “Donations”. Highway Garage is open weekdays 8:30am-6pm; Sat 9am-12pm.

Note: Noel says,” All we need is an address and the estimated date of returning home.  We love what we do. Donations of toiletries and snack foods gratefully accepted.  Anyone can stop by and see what we do on Mon or Wed at 2pm to 3pm.”