Roses, Love, and Valentine’s Day

roseThree things will last forever–faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.This veteran shows us that love lasts forever. Happy Valentine’s Day.

The day after the funeral for Mr. Vernon, his daughter went to the cemetery and admired the flowers on her dad’s grave.  Flowers are usually left at the grave site for a week. Mr. Vernon is buried next to his beloved wife, Josephine. He was placed on the right side and his wife is next to him on the left.

The next day, his daughter was restless and went back to the cemetery to once again visit her father’s grave. The weather was dreary. It had been raining all day. The wind and rain swirled around her in that deserted place.

Many things had blown around in the cemetery. To her surprise, all the flowers that had been on her father’s side were now perfectly placed on Josephine’s side of the plot. As his daughter moved flowers back to Mr. Vernon’s side, roses fell from the funeral flowers onto her mom’s grave. And his daughter remembered how her Dad had always brought her mom roses. Even in death, Mr. Vernon reminds us how to love.

Answer to the Age Old Question About Buying a Car


I am a proud mom of a veteran! When is the best time to buy a car? Michael Baldwin from newsnet5 in Cleveland, Ohio interviewed my son, Joseph Reinart. Joseph is the Sales Manager in Westlake at Pat O’Brien Chevrolet. Watch this clip to get some tips. Great job in front of the camera, Joe!

Nobody in This Town Knows


89 year old, Ed Bray is a decorated WWII veteran. He’s covered up a secret for 80 years. His wife and a coworker helped him all this time. CBS news reports Ed as saying, “The toughest thing that ever happened to me in my life was not being able to read. I want to read one book,” he says. “I don’t care if it’s about Mickey Mouse. I want to read one book before I die.”

Through his life, Ed or his reading tutors would give up on the effort, until professor Tobi Thompson, from Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University came along.  She and Ed went from weekly chats to practicing sight words with flash cards.

During the first week in March of 2013, Ed read his first book about George Washington. Ed has since read three more third grade level biographies. Ed is thrilled with his new skill and gives this advice. “Get in there and learn, baby. Now! ‘Cause you ain’t going to learn in that pine box,” Bray says.

Ed has two Purple Hearts and numerous other medals for his courageous service during WWII. Now he has the treasure of reading. He is a wonderful example for us. He proves that it is never too late to learn.

29 Years Ago- A Mother’s Story

Give a warm welcome to our guest, Lolly Crummett. Lolly is a United States Air Force Mom, a United States Marine Corps Wife (retired), a mom to three other wonderful young adults and a very proud grandmother.

Almost 29 years ago, I brought two beautiful mirror image identical twin boys into this world. They were 32 weeks premature and only weighted five pounds each. At the time, my husband was an Active Duty Marine, and we were stationed in Albany, GA. A long way from home for this little CA girl.

I sat there in GA and wondered how much further from home the Marine Corps could send us and still keep us in the United States. Then my husband got orders. We were going to Twentynine Palms, CA, a mere 3 hour drive from Momma and Daddy. Daddy was terminally ill,and I knew I wanted my 3 boys (I have a son 3 1/2 years older than my twins ) to have a chance to get to know their grandpa.

Danny, Jason, Tommie July 1985 

With the military, nothing is carved in stone until it happens. A month before our move my husband came home and told me we weren’t going to Twentynine Palms.  We were going to Hawaii, still in the United States, but 3,000 miles the other side of home. I was heartbroken.

I cried when I had to tell my parents. It turned out okay. Hawaii was part of my brother’s business territory so my boys got to see their Uncle Bum (yes, Uncle Bum, and my niece calls me Aunt Brat) four times a years when he came to Hawaii on business. My parents managed to come visit us once a year. I also managed to get home each summer for a few weeks to see the family.

After a three year tour in Hawaii, we finally got orders to Twentynine Palms, AGAIN, and this time they stuck. The boys and I and my pregnant belly came home early so I could spend some time with my parents and give the boys time to spend with Grandpa.

When I told Daddy I was pregnant, he immediately began referring to the baby as “she” something he’d never done with any of the other 5 grandchildren (all boys). They were always “it”. Daddy knew I was finally having the little girl we’d all wanted. He lived long enough to meet her, and passed away when she was 5 weeks old.

My own son, Tommie, one of my twins, is in the United States Air Force. This is July 2012 and he is preparing for deployment #7. He was home for Thanksgiving last year. It was the first Thanksgiving in 9 years that all 4 of my children were home together. It was also my precious grandson’s first Thanksgiving. It was the first time in 19 very long months that I saw my son, as he is now stationed in England.

Tommie and his mom and dad on his wedding day.

This will be his second deployment from England. He’ll be gone 6 months. Even though he’ll be back in February, expenses will prohibit him from attending his own twin brother’s wedding in April. Being deployed he’s missed countless birthdays, family gatherings, celebrations and funerals.

He was unable to attend his grandmother’s wedding because he was in Iraq. The Rabbi was great. He allowed me to keep my cell phone on “in case Tommie called” during the ceremony.

He missed his baby sister’s wedding. Leave was denied because he was within the deployment window where he couldn’t leave the country. With my beloved Daddy dying when Tommie was only 5 1/2, my uncle became a surrogate grandfather to my children. Tommie missed his funeral because he was deployed. When Tommie’s Godmother died, he couldn’t get leave to come say his last farewell to his beloved Aunt Lanie.

When your child joins the military, so do you. You make sacrifices along with your child. It’s part of the life they choose to lead. I’ve been a military wife for 35 years now. I’ve been a military mom for almost 11 years. They are two entirely different ball games. I knew what I was doing when I married my Marine.

When I gave birth to a helpless 5 pound baby, I had no intention of sending him to war once, let alone 7 times. He has seen and done things that only happen in my nightmares. His dad is a Vietnam Vet, so the two of them can talk about what they’ve seen and done in a way that they can’t talk to anyone else including my daughter in law and me. Do I like the decisions my adult son has made? Not always, but I accept and respect them.

I have four young adult children, and I am equally proud of all of them, but I must admit there is a piece of my heart reserved for Tommie that the other three can’t touch. I know each time Tommie goes to work, he’s laying his life on the line for our freedom. When he enlisted, he signed a check, made out to the United States of America in the amount of and up to and including his life if need be.

Serving our country runs in my son’s blood. His dad is a retired Marine, who is a Vietnam Vet. His uncle, my brother in law, was also a Marine, a veteran of both Vietnam and Korea in whose memory my son is named. My aunt and uncle both proudly served our country in World War II. My Grandfather (Tommie has his middle name ) served in World War I. It was inevitable that at least one of my children would serve our nation.  I fully expect to one day be the grandmother of a United States Service Member.


I Will Dance at Your Wedding

When my son, Joe was deployed to Iraq in 2004, he wrote us a heartfelt letter after the loss of one of his fellow soldiers and several of his own brushes with death. A part of the letter said:

I think a lot of nights, restless nights, of the days to come.  I ponder and daydream of the good and the bad and the anxiety weighs on me like a ton of bricks.  Will I make it back?  Will I be so different from when I left?  What will I do with my life?  Will I be successful?  Will I be happy?

I answered him back: I will dance at your wedding and sing lullabies to your children.

Joe made it back in 2005. He is happy and successful. In two weeks my son is getting married. I will dance!

Joe and my new daughter-to-be, Katie. God bless you both on this new journey.

A Medic With a Big Heart

Sgt.Tim practicing a drill.

Unable to see her son before he leaves for his third deployment, Rebecca Huston honors her son by telling the story of how, Sergeant Timothy Ryan Huston, Combat Medic, United States Army, became a soldier. Thank you Becky for raising this exceptional young man.

My Son, the Soldier

By Rebecca Huston

From the time he knew what the Army was, Tim told me he was going to join. When he was little, he only played with G.I. Joes.  I’d find them hanging all over my house; hiding in the corners of the dining room, looking out from behind the coffee pot in the kitchen, or holding onto the branches of the few plants in my living room.

“Don’t touch my G.I. Joes,” he’d tell me before he went for a nap.

“Leave my G.I. Joes alone, Mommy, they’re getting ready for a battle,” he’d say when I got ready to sweep on cleaning day.

“I’m going to join the Army when I get big,” he’d tell me over and over again.

When Tim was eleven years old he went to a flea market with his grandparents.  He came home with two pairs of Army fatigues complete with the soldier’s name on them.  Each day after school he’d change into those Army fatigues and run out the door to play in the woods with his three older brothers and boys in the neighborhood.

“I’m going to join the Army,” he kept telling me.  “When I’m old enough, I’m going to join.”

In high school, Tim became very involved with riding one of the two horses we kept in our little barn.  Okay, I thought, maybe he’s ready to leave his “I’m going to join the Army” plan.

Then football became a passion along with his horse.  When Tim reached sixteen, he put his sights on buying a 1989 red Ford Mustang with the money he earned working at our local McDonald’s.  Soon a girl named Jamilyn began to occupy his time.

“ Finally,” I thought, “no more Army talk,” as I blew out a sigh of relief.

One day, a couple months before graduating from high school, Tim came to me stating he’d figured out what he wanted to do with his life.

“Great”, I said, “What is it?”

“I want to become an emergency room nurse……and I’m going to let the Army pay for it!”

I was dumbfounded.  I hadn’t heard Tim talk about the Army in maybe five or six years.  Where did this come from?

“Tim, are you sure?” I asked.

“I want to help people and you know I’ve always wanted to join the Army. I’m going to do it, Mom.”

A week, maybe two weeks later, Tim made his way to the Army recruiter’s office.  He’d told me that if the Army wouldn’t take him as a medic he wouldn’t enlist.  He was gone all day.

When he came home that afternoon, Tim told me that he’d passed all the physical tests along with the test to qualify him as a medic. The problem was his “anxious” blood pressure level. When it dropped after spending the whole day in that recruiter’s office, they signed him up.

After graduating from high school in June, Tim got married to Jamilyn in July and at the end of August boarded an airplane for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. There he was transformed into a soldier in the United States Army.

I was so proud when we arrived at Fort Leonard Wood for Tim’s basic training graduation.  Every hair stood up on my arm and I had goose bumps, when I heard the heavy boot steps and the echoes of each soldier responding to the reveille calls of their commanding officers.

Each soldier looked the same as they moved past me.  Then I saw him, my son, the soldier.  He looked so different; strong, muscular, focused, jaw set, and eyes looking straight ahead at his drill sergeant. I wept when we went through his graduation ceremony; hearing story after story of all the drills these new recruits had to go through.  Then we watched a video of the days Tim spent learning and growing to become a soldier.

“There’s my son”, I said as they showed them lined up for role call.

“There’s my son”, I said as I caught the picture of him holding his gas mask in one hand as he entered the gas chamber without it on.

“I can’t believe you did that to my son in order to bring him through his basic training.  Oh God……what’s next for my son, the soldier?” I cried out under my breath.

The next day after boot camp graduation Tim boarded a bus that took him to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas where he spent six weeks being trained as a combat medic.  Then another order came for a transfer to Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Tim and Jamilyn didn’t have much time together as newly weds.  Before they could celebrate their first anniversary, Tim was deployed to Iraq where he tended to the needs of his unit through a clinic outside Kirkuk.  His tour lasted only four months.  This unit was coming home.  And home Tim came, too.

After spending about seven months together, Tim received orders for a second deployment.  Five weeks after his little baby girl was born, Tim along with his unit deployed once again to Iraq. This second deployment base was located just North of Baghdad.

On the morning of their first mission off the base, IED’s were discovered buried across the driveway leading out of the base.  “The enemy” was wasting no time in welcoming this unit to their country.

One of Tim’s first missions was patrolling a street in Baghdad. Tim was approached by an Iraqi Mom and Dad who recognized him as a medic.  They had with them their little five-year-old daughter.  She had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  They couldn’t afford the treatments that might heal her.  So when the saw a U.S. Army medic they asked Tim through an interpreter,

“Do you have medicine in your medical bag that can make our daughter well?”

The reality of this family’s life in Iraq came down on him.  Tim had just left behind his own five week old daughter.

“No”, he responded….”I’m sorry, I don’t have the medicine that will keep her alive.”  This is my son the soldier.

Another day, Tim was in a convoy of Humvees traveling down the most dangerous cargo route in and out of Baghdad.  He was in the second Humvee.  A soldier, who had become his friend was in the first Humvee leading the convoy.  Before Tim’s eyes, his friend’s Humvee hit a land mine.  Before his eyes, Tim saw the Humvee explode.  When he got to the wreckage, Tim found his friend.  He tried to work on him, but on the forty – five minute truck ride to a base hospital Tim’s friend died.  This is my son, the soldier.

Half way through his fourteen month tour Tim got to come home for a twenty-day leave.  How good it was to see him, to hold him, to love and feed the thinner, tired looking man who left my home after graduating from high school over two years ago.

“Lord, let our days go by slowly.  Please, Lord, let these days be so sweet.” I prayed.

Twenty days later, Tim left to go back to Iraq. Once again, Tim began his work as a combat medic.  Wherever his unit went, he went.  When they went out on three-day missions, Tim went too. When they responded to tips of houses full of explosives, Tim also carried his weapon, guarding those who would canvas the area before setting fire to the house, destroying the enemy’s bombs.

Day in and day out, Tim and his unit worked with the Iraqi army striving to teach them how to defend and fight for their freedom against terrorists.  Time and time again, they would train these men only to see them flee in fear when coming face to face with the enemy.  Frustration consumed my son and those he served with.

As Tim’s fourteen-month tour of duty drew closer to it’s completion, Tim went out on his very last mission.  New soldiers had arrived to take over the work that Tim’s unit had been doing. On this mission, Tim was driving a Humvee full of soldier when he hit a land mine.  The explosion was loud.  Loud enough to put a ringing in their ears and hard enough to crack the Humvees windshield.  This time, that was the only damage they sustained. Finally, Tim’s fourteen-month tour was over, and he returned home to Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

A few months later, Tim was reassigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he had basic training, to work in the Army base hospital as a medic.  He began to take on- line classes pursuing not an emergency room nurse degree, but under the recommendations of his Iraq commanding officers, a physician’s assistant degree.  For two and a half years Tim processed what he had lived during his second tour to Iraq.

Once again, Tim received new orders to report for duty at Fort Carson, Colorado in 60 day and to be prepared to deploy for Afghanistan shortly after he arrived. Tour number three looms on the horizon.Tim packed up his family and moved to Colorado.  They lived in a hotel for three weeks, as they searched for a house to rent. They then waited another two weeks for their furnishings to arrive from Missouri.  Tim went through Afghanistan readiness training and still awaits his upcoming deployment.

Why does he stay in the Army?  Why does he put himself and his family through this?  Because he has a heart that longs to help people, and from the time Tim was little, he told me he was going to join the Army.

As I was out shopping this Christmas, my cell phone rang.  It was Tim.

“Mom, I got my deployment date.  I’m supposed to ship out January 5th or 6th.  The unit has lost seven medics.  I’m going to replace one of them.”

“How many more times, Lord?” I asked.

Fervently trying to find a flight to visit Tim before he deployed, I soon realized I couldn’t afford one on such short notice.  The reality that I wouldn’t see my son off on his third deployment tore my heart in two.

“What can I do, Lord?  What can I do to show my son how much I love him, how very proud I am of him and his service to our country?”

Two ideas filled my mind.  My first idea was to decorate a pine tree in my driveway with red, white, and blue twinkle lights and keep the tree lit until Tim and his unit return home in June! My other idea was to tie a red, a white, and a blue ribbon on a tree at the beginning of my driveway, so that my neighbors would know that my son, the soldier was deploying again. Once I had tied up my tree, I began to contact each of my family members and each of them took strands of the red, white and blue ribbon to tie on a tree in front of their homes to support Tim as well.

Tim is only one of the thousands of men and women who are or have been a part of our nation’s war against terrorism.  These lights and ribbons are for them too—for your sons, your daughters, your husbands, your wives.  For them, I commit my prayers and my thanks for they too are like my son, the soldier, Sergeant Timothy Ryan Huston, Combat Medic, United States Army.

“Because he loves me” says the Lord, “I will rescue him, I will protect him for he acknowledges my name.” Psalm 91:14

Together Again

This photo was taken in 1947–an engagement picture of  my parents, Joe and Mary Vayo.

My Dad was in the Navy for four years. When he returned home to Fairport Harbor, Ohio, he met this sweet girl at the  local  soda fountain.

Married June 19, 1948, they were together for 55 years.My Dad would sing to my Mom and they would go dancing at Euclid Beach Park.

Yesterday, June 28, 2011, my Mom passed away. Rejoice with me as my parents are once again dancing together. And my Dad is singing in her ear, “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, a hug around the neck, I do , love you.” I miss you Mom and Dad.

Love Letters in the Snow:Honoring Fred and Clarie Martin

Nothing is left. Their home is gone, after an early morning explosion far from any battle field. The story of what happened on February 7,2011 is hard for their remaining family to grasp. Two beloved people gone in an instant.

The Martin’s dog, Jake survived. A journal was found in the snow. It contained love letters Fred had written to Claire while he served in the Vietnam War.

A cousin, Thomas J. Snee wrote a poem about these letters saying in part:

Letters in the Snow

Bound with love,

Written in time of war and separation

Only to be found in sorrow and desperation

To death do we part, given us to remind

to separate is only a passing . . .

Fred and Claire’s great love surround their children, grandchildren, and family. Passionate about life, they traveled, enjoyed music, and nature. It is fitting that the celebration of their lives and great love be held on February 14th, Valentines Day at 11 a.m. Stony Hill Church, 2756 Stoney Hill Road, Medina. Military burial will follow at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. Above all, love survives.
On line condolences at

To All Our Fathers

My Dad -Joseph Christopher Vayo 1924-2003

Happy Father’s Day to all our Fathers whether here in body or spirit. Dad, thank you for your unconditional love, your commitment to family and country, your sense of humor, your work ethic, your gift of song (and playing the harmonica)  and your prayerful example of our Catholic faith. Love you and miss you.