Sunday, February 26, 2012
It was Africa, not afghanistan but the plane was assigned to AFghanistan. This morning at church, it was mentioned and the families put on our prayer list. So close to home and we have church members who knew them. After all the Air Force family is really connected as well. So close. I feel fortunate to live in a community such as this.
I appreciate all of the kind comments that you sparkers gave me yesterday. I don't remember my experience with Desert Storm as dreadful or something I wish I hadn't done. I did the best job I could do at the time given my circumstances and am grateful for that opportunity. At the time I didn't feel that way. And I never talked about it because I was some what embarrassed feeling that others would not understand or wouldn't be interested in what really goes on during wartime.
In January of 2001, the 10th anninversay of the downing of Spirit 03, the local air force base was going to have a memorial service for the familes to come back and remember. On the second of January that month, being an interior decorator, I received a phone call from a woman who wanted me to help her decorate her bedroom with new bedding, drapery, etc. I made the appmt and didn't think much of it until I got to her home. She seemed kind of nervous and immediately took me back to the bedroom. She said, "I have to tell you, my husband died in Desert Storm." I thought, OH, my God she is one of the wives of the fallen from Spirit 03! She said later, of all the decorators in town she could have called to help her, she called me! She had not done a thing to that bedroom since her husband left it on January 2, 1991 to go to Kuwait. Same bedspread, husbands clothes in the closet, but she was ready.
We sat down and talked about our connection, how she had gotten on, her teenage son that had suffered from depression. She had been writing a book and was unable to get past chapter 5 which was the day her husband had been callecd up. After I left her that day, she started that chapter. I did help her with a bedspread and draperies and paint and we talked and it helped both of us come to grips with our situation. It was at that point that I cried those soft tears in my psychiatrists office and he said I had PTSD.
During the memorial service, my husband and I attended and we were able to meet with the wives and family that we had helped during that awful time. My family in Iowa had parents who were both deaf and mute. Imagine me going to their home in my uniform and having to present their son's dog tags to them in their living room. The only thing that was found. No body, no bones, only dog tags. Because of their situation, I had to call their daughter who was a nurse, every day during the whole 2 and 1/2 months it took for the war to end and to search for the remains. Those people put me on a pedastal and I felt like such a fake. But in hindsight I did my job.
The sister tried to maintain a relationship with me afterward but I didn't want that. I just wanted to forget and get on. I did call her however, after the 10th year anniversay. Her mom had come down and I sat with her. It was like I was able to release the secret I had held for those ten years.
My company is a franchise and one of my decorator friends within the company had a son who went into the army early on in the Iraq War. He was from a unit in Ohio that somehow got mostly wiped out and he died. I wrote her a letter and gently described to her how it was when he came back and what she could expect for benefits for the burial etc. She was really appreciative, knowing the secrets that were never told and what it was like on the other side for the officers that had to handle the arrangements.
The Lord does work in mysterious ways and I firmly believe that I was there for a purpose and reason. Did I mention that the family in Iowa was Lutheran. I am a Lutheran as well and could relate to their services. That day of the funeral, a C-130 flew up from the Air Force Base to attend. It was very foggy and they weren't sure if they were going to be able to land. They circled twice and couldn't see to get down. On the third try, they knew that they would have to abort the mission and fly home if they couldn't land. Suddenly, the skies cleared enough for them to get in. A miracle for sure.
This was a rural town in Iowa and all along the parade route, the homes and stores were flying flags with messages that said, "We Salute you Sgt Tim Harrison!" It was so moving to have been a part of that. In my memory, I was a robot moving in the wind, doing my job. It was all I could do to hold it together.
Afterward, I had a few more funerals to attend but Tim Harrison's funeral and family made the biggest impression on me. I got off of active duty right afterward and my companies annual convention was being held in Washington, D.C. shortly thereafter. At that convention, I received the most honored award given to a franchise owner. Franchise Owner of the Year. When my picture wearing my uniform appeared on the screen, there was loud cheering. As everyone knew that I had taken several months off from my business to go on Active duty. What an experience. I stayed in the Air Force Reserve for 20 years, 2 months and 21 days, retiring with the rank of LtColonel. It was definitely worth it. Thanks for reading. AGain.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
This week a plane went down with 4 dead, 3 officers and an airman. That plane was from an Air Force base that is just a few miles from my home so it is always a sad thing for me. In fact, 2 pilots who fly that same plane and stationed here, go to my church. It could have been either one of them but fortunately was not. This type of thing affects our whole community as it did in Desert Storm when a C-130 went down with 14 onboard, all perished. I had been called up to active duty during Desert Storm and assigned as Mortuary Officer, helping families with their funeral arrangements. When that C-130, dubbed Spirit 03, went down, it was from the same Air Force base a few miles from home. I was called up and reported for duty on Jan 28, 1991 and that plane went down on Jan 31, 1991. And so, for the duration of the war, I dealt with that situation.
You see, Spirit 03 went down over water in Kuwait and could not be recovered until after the war was over. And so daily, I conferred with the familes and finally was able to put them to rest in early May of 1991. This is all another story in my life that I won't get into now.
My husband works part time for a local funeral home as an ambassador. He is the only one who works there with a military ID and so last night he got the call. This morning, he is going out to the other Air Force Base a few miles from my home to meet the Airman and place him into the care of the funeral home where he works.
The Lord does work in mysterious ways. After Desert Storm and midway into the 1990's, I fell into a deep major depression. I was under the care of a psychiatriat and at the 10th anniversary of the Downing of Spirit 03, Jan 31, 2001, they were having a memorial service at the Air Force Base. It all came back to me and when I was seeing my psychiatrist and telling him about it, I just started crying soft tears. They just flowed from my eyes and he said, "PTSD". I never thought there was a connection but it was something I held back and didn't talk about because who wants to hear about dead people and what really happens to them, etc. etc. I knew all that and had to keep it a secret. And it was like family lost to me and I couldn't mourn them.
Last year was the 20th anniversay of Spirit 03 and it passed with little recognition and fanfare. No one is left at the Air Force Base that was associated with that downed plane. But we in the community remember and only too well when another plane goes down. They built a housing area for the military right after Desert Storm and all of the streets are named after the 14 who were onboard Spirit 03. I drive past it every week, nearly every day. Can't ever forget them. I'm at peace with it now and look back on my service as something to be proud of. Although I wish I could have done a better job, letting my emotions come out and to allow myself closure.
After the war was over and the funerals came, we mortuary officers had to attend each funeral service for the familes that we had helped. One of the airman I had was from Iowa and I flew up there, taking my husband for support. I disobeyed orders in that arena but It was essential that he be with me. As the escort officer, I had to visit with the family, give them the dog tags that they had found for their son, preside over the funeral and present the flag to the family and salute the casket. I shake my head now wondering how I got through it all. I just had to push my emotions back into a deep space so that I could get through it. I have to tell you that my faith and strength in the Lord helped me, although at the time, I didn't know how strong my faith was.
There is a whole lot more to this story than I've written today but I'll stop for now. Please pray for the families involved as their grief is great. It makes such an impression when it is so close to home. Thanks for reading.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I knew I had written some astounding blogs this month so I went back and reread a couple of them. In spite of all my musings and writing it down, I'm stil floating around without balance in my life. I still need to get that notebook and attend to the five areas in my life that need attending to. I talked about that in 15 MINUTES IS A LONG TIME! I need to go back to these blogs and print them out so I can refer back to them and know what I am supposed to be doing.
My zenhabits e-mail today says if you have a bad habit, replace it with another better habit. Trouble is, he didn't give any examples like chewing on your nails. What would you replace that with? Eating food? Not a better habit.
As my friends know, I've become a quilting nut! Yesterday, I did not have any decorating appointments and I seem caught up on my work and so I decided to do whatever I wanted to do. I had to go out to the base and pick up a prescription and I had to take 2 items to UPS. So I did that and then I stopped at the fabric store to browse (I thought) afterward. Big mistake as I can always find something to buy and walked out with $40 of fabric I didn't need however, in my mind I justified it as going with something I had and then I was supporting the local quilt shop which needs my business to stay open. They have a section of $5 a yard fabric which is really a good buy as it is all first quality. And then they have a stack of 1 yd bits for $5 or buy 5 get one free. I found some that goes with a quilt top waiting to happen and some blue and red stars that will work for a quilt of valor I am going to do, etc. You know the drill.
And later on, I sewed a bit and then we had Fat Tuesday at the Yacht Club and got home about 7:00. My friend Pat had called and I learned I had missed a Chamber of Commerce activity and one today as well and so here I am, needing balance again. I can't devote my life to quilting just as I can't be a workaholic or play all the time or be a religious fanatic or political nerd. I have to have balance so I need to get out that notebook I talked about and fill it up!
And a quote from Spark, "Pursue the things that make you feel alive and fill you with joy and balance!" Just got to keep reminding myself. Everyday is a work in progress! Later.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
So yesterday, I asked my hubby if he wanted to go with me to Defuniak Springs, FL to a quilt show and winery and then lunch. Happily he said yes so off we went. Defuniak Springs is an old southern town in Northwest Florida that is famous for its Chautauqua cultural festivals for over 100 years. Famous people used to come there but now it is a stopping off point on I 10 as you drive west through the Florida corridor. It is an hours drive from our home and I spent the time handsewing binding on a quilt top.
When we arrived, it was starting to rain and did so all day. There were 160 plus quilts on display, some magnificant and some that were done by novice quilters. I voted for a completely hand made and hand quilts baltimore album style quilt that was done by a member of our church. Why I didn't take a picture to share is beyond me. Another favorie was a scrappy squares quilt with 6 inch blocks, each with rick rack. And another was one made with mens ties, all cut into log cabin strips. I took photos but I'll have to post later as I have trouble finding them on my computer.
After about an hour, hubby had seen enough and so had I so we left and then went to the Chautauqa WInery where we tasted a few wines. They grown muscadine grapes here and make their own wines, none of which I was all that fond of as the muscadine grape makes a sweet wine. We did buy a bag of mulled wine spices to make a hot drink.
Then we went to McClain's family restaurant for lunch. It is practically the only restaurant in Defuniak except McDonald's, Arby's, etc. It is a buffet sort of like Golden Corral but on a smaller scale and lunch was adequate, just okay. But it didn't matter as we had a nice time. Got home by 1:00 and I headed to the sewing room to work on finishing my tote bag which I also took a picture of but can't find on my computer. I'll have to devote some time to figuring out how to find them someday but I"d rather be quilting. Later on, I took a nap and when I woke, hubby had made homemade chili for dinner! It was delicious. I spent the rest of the evening sewing on the tote while we watched an old movie.
Doesn't get much better than this!
Friday, February 17, 2012
I'm obsessed with sewing and quilting and thoroughly enjoy it, so much so that I am churning out quilt tops and charitable donations to beat the band! Wish I was that dedicated to losing weight. I seem to have gotten myself semi-organized in my work life and so I find myself taking off the afternoons and sewing.
Its pretty bad when you have invited your husband on a date and the date is to go to Defuniak Springs, Fl to their annual quilt show and look at 160 quilts and visit 7 vendors selling fabric. And he said yes! We have a T-bird convertible and so he said we would take that car if the weather is nice. And I said, what if I buy stuff? I need somehow to bring it home. Well, maybe it is a good idea to take that car. I dont' need whatever it is they are selling.
On the other hand, there is a winery next to the quilt show and I said maybe he could go there while I go quilting. Maybe we'll buy a case of wine,, but he said he doesn't like scuppernong wine and that is what they make there. So I guess we are driving the T-bird.
At anyrate, my obsession continues and I am persevering with it. Yesterday I went to the guild workshop to learn to make charity quilts all in one. I finished first, the only one to leave with a finished quilt except binding. I think I need to get in the next jelly roll race. I might win. Later.
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