Tag Archives: sons

Yeah, So My Son Wears a Skirt

Since not much has changed aside from the grandkids growin’, From 17 March 2016:

Sure, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, don’ cha know. Fresh buds are sheeting the landscapes with bright greens as if they too arrived for the Irish festivities.

jack meg 2016mar12

FirstBorn phoned me early this morning while drivin’ into Chicago for the first of the big parades this weekend. As we chatted, I envisioned he and his wife riding side-by-side, dressed in full celtic regailia.

Yeah, my son wears a skirt: a kilt, a sporran (or pouch), fly plaid (depending upon the weather), hose, garters, spats and depending upon the event they’re attending, either Balmoral or Glengarry headgear. An’ it’s proud I am of him – and all my family.

 

band of brothers pNdFirstBorn, FirstBride and OtherBrother are members of The Band of Brothers Pipes and Drums Corps. An annual tradition, they gather in Chicago with thousands of celebrants, for the Dyein’ of the Chicago River, The St. Patrick’s Day Parade  and the Southside Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

jack drum 2015mar18

 

crabby 2016mar7crab jack 2012mar7

bookends 2016jan10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bob jack 2016jan10

Sure, an’ it’s a fine day, indeed!

 

 

“For you have heard my vows, O God. You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.”

Psalm 51:5 (NLT)

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

Stove Up

One of the first new terms I learned here in the Northwest was “stove up”. I soon realized folks weren’t talking about heat or cooking. They referred to feeling puny or broken.

Like me much of last winter for example. God kept me safe from hurt and harm this fall. But by this time last year I’d injured my right arm chopping wood. Soon I’d fallen and broken my tail bone and many mornings I woke with my bones aching over the exceptionally long, remarkably cold, and unusually wet winter. A few times I’d felt beyond stove up, I felt ’bout stove in.

As I light the first fire of the year in the wood stove I reflect on the past year fondly. I thank God for my rustic life (a dream come true), for my dear Brother Cole and friends and all I’ve learned from them.  Celebrating this life, reciting the lessons from the past year helps ease the longing for hugs, humor and hanging out with Seagh, my offspring, my darling Opal and my long-distance siblings.

What do you celebrate this week?

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.”

Phil 4:19, 20 (NLT)

  

Header, fire and candle images courtesy of Pixabay.com

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Meeting

This past week a friend had me laughing for hours – I’m sure he was laughing too. In an email conversation that began about blogging we stumbled upon our mutual regard for Monty Python movie quotes. It was on… quote after quote – back and forth.

“Spam, spam, spam, spam…”

Actually my sons, with their uncles/my brothers, a sister and my husband reenacted the scenes so often over the years I knew many of the dialogues by heart. Remarkably, until a Flying Circus marathon New Year’s Eve Party in 1994-95 I’d never actually seen a single Monty Python movie. Frankly, after all the years hearing my darling’s renditions, to me my gang was better. They were actually just familiar – and the subjects were well filtered.

This led me to think about all the people I talk to, have relationships with but we haven’t actually met – yet.

A little later I was laughing again over another movie scene that gets me every time. Cry-laughing I blurted out, “Lord, help me!”

Instantly I envisioned Jesus as depicted in the drawing framed on my wall: His head back, tears glistening through his fully accentuated laugh lines, His jaw wide open… I felt as though we’d been hanging out for hours.

And yet, we’ve never actually “met” in person either. Not like I’ve met most of my friends.

Seriously, I live for those moments with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They make it so I can hardly wait to actually look into His face. I’m certain there will be silliness when we meet – happiness will gush.

Sure, I’ll have to account for some things I’m not proud of, but simply meeting Jesus on earth leads me to believe He will be standing close by us all in our final moments. I wonder if then, between our last breath here and opening our eyes on the other side is when we’ll account for the sad and bad choices of our lives – those moments I dread. Why not? God’s time is nothing like ours. And besides, there will be no sorrow or pain in heaven.

Whatever else awaits us, I’m certain uncontainable joy will overtake all else in God’s presence. Go ahead, try to get your head around how the best laughter on earth can’t even compare.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” “ Revelation 21:3, 4 (NLT)

 

Monty Python images courtesy Pinterest, and Feature Image courtesy Fungyung.com,

Michael Keaton in Multiplicity courtesy YouTube

Jesus Laughing image by Praise Screen Prints (c) 1977  as He appears on my wall ;>

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Deep Gratitude

This week I asked God to show me things and events I take for granted or overlooked, things for which I’m thankful.

All y’alls probably don’t forget the epic moments in your lives that turned the tide for you. This morning I awoke with one such memory – that ended a friendship.

Typically I prefer to avoid dwelling on the dark times of my early past, but this week memories blessed me with a clearer perception of God’s infinite grace, the day I didn’t pull the trigger.

My family of origin is rich – with extremes. Some of those include violence. When I was young I witnessed such from a distance and was sometimes at the receiving end. While I not only survived but overcame them, they affected me. Not always in positive ways.

I left my marriage not solely to remove my sons and myself from physical harm but because of infidelity on many levels. We all got over it, but soon after the separation I recognized violent roots in me.

A good friend surprised the boys and me with a visit to our new home. She’d told me weeks before her new husband had shoved and grabbed her hard enough to bruise her. I wasn’t as happy to see him with her.

woman-angry-pixabayHe quickly felt my reluctance to receive him and soon began urging her to leave. Forgetting all she’d confided in me, she simply said they wouldn’t stay long.

 

After chatting in the kitchen I started walking them through the house to show her the changes we’d made. Soon didn’t come fast enough for him. Entering the second room he grabbed her arm forcefully, insisting they leave immediately. I perceived violence.

revolver-sillouette-bixabayFaster than I recall ever moving before, I reached into the closet we stood next to and retrieved the single action .22 revolver we kept at the back of the high shelf.

I aimed the barrel at her husband’s brow saying, “Let go of her, and leave.” My eldest son later said my strange, icy tone gave him chills from the other room and the pitch of my friend’s voice confirmed her terror as she warned her husband, “She will shoot. Don’t test her.”

The husband realized his life depended upon his next move. He slowly let go of her, raising his hands above his head. From the doorway, thirteen-year-old Iain stepped beside him, and taking his elbow urged him toward the back door saying, “Good choice.”

As the husband backed away with Iain, he cautiously said “Honey, if you’re ready I’ll be in the car.”

In my history the behavior and attitude the husband initially exhibited typically led to me bleeding. One of the last such instances, my friend was in the house during some of the brutality I had survived. In the present all I could think of was protecting my sons and perhaps my friend.

Iain guided the husband outside. After closing the door I lowered my weapon. My friend shocked me by shaming me for doing what I considered the best response to the situation. She cried saying she couldn’t understand me. I was dumbfounded.

Months before Erin came to take me to the hospital. I’d been hit so hard I didn’t get up. After I came to I determined it was the last time I was going down defenseless. The friend I presently stared at, mouth agape in disbelief, had witnessed the attack and called Erin.

As the couple drove away I checked the pistol and then put it back on the shelf. I gathered my sons and assured them everything was okay and then encouraged them to talk about what had just happened. Soon I asked Iain why he went to the husband. He answered, “I saw you hadn’t pulled the hammer back, but he didn’t.” Then shrugging his shoulders he quoted his uncle, “Neutralize the threat.” There were no other questions.

Iain has always astounded me – often in good ways. He never forgot Grandpa, a WWII vet, vigilantly teaching the family of huntsmen, “You hear that sound [a firearm cocking], drop wherever you are.” Iain had’t heard that distictive sound that day.

Minutes later we all returned to what we’d been doing before the guests arrived as though it was any other day.

In almost 25 years, I did not recall that event. After many changes in my life and my heart the memory came to me, tormenting me for days. At the time of that incident I was remarkably spontaneous, especially proactive regarding any perceived threat. A practiced shootist then, I gladly remember now that I never cocked the gun that day. It was the last time I’d pulled a firearm for over two decades.

worship-girl

Whenever I just breathe deeply enough to feel the familiar old scars where my ribs and scull cracked beneath my beloved’s boots, I am thankful. Today I’m thankful to be home safe and sound. I’m not proud, but I’m thankful for the times I stood against physical violence with equal force. And I thank God especially that one particular stand could have gone horribly wrong, but didn’t.

Mostly I’m thankful for my sons. Against the odds they are peacekeepers today.

“When I think of all this I fall to my knees and pray to the Father… Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:14, 20 (NLT)

Images courtesy of Pixabay

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Filed under A Door Ajar, Longreads

Notably Sound

2016jun10Manny PCL MIL JCLI talked more than usual with my grown men over the past few weeks. Nathan was hospitalized several times for migrating shrapnel – 13 years after the initial event

The second time I heard one of my sons patient, adorable sighs, I remembered previous conversations, especially one with Zoe: 

Notably Sound – Repost from 9/15/2014

phone convo pixabayZoe couldn’t talk yesterday, but this morning we caught up. Unlike many of my friends and family these days, Zoe and I occupy the same time zone. That’s kind of a big deal.

Fast forward 150 minutes; epic – even for us. We touched all bases; our families, work, health, mutual friends, political and social concerns. Then, for fun, we skimmed back over my notes from our past year’s conversations.

notebook-pixabayYes, I take notes – on everything, in chronological order with color coded highlights. Maybe it’s a mental health thing, but it’s often helpful.

The happiest benefit of this old habit is seeing conversation details are accurately recorded.

So… you may be thinking.

So, my assessment today addresses how my amazing, adult sons imply (but wouldn’t dare say), “Mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I recognize the tone more frequently than ever before. Even when they were teens – and learned to never say that to me again. “That’s odd, Son. I thought you said you like liver. Silly me. I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Now they suggest I’m either confused about statements from previous talks or I really wasn’t listening – like that ever happens : } I confess I once found an old shopping list there – just once.

From my trusty notebooks, our typical conversations appear compressed into time restraints and are multi-directional. Though the subjects get jumbled among various subjects; jobs, rapidly growing kids, classes, fitness, etc., reviewing my notes serve me well. Though days or weeks may have lapsed, I am indelibly assured in my grasp of the conversations.

On this down slope of mid-life, this too is kind of a big deal. Modern medicine has forced us to minor in self-diagnosis so that especially the savvy peri-senior is watchful for symptoms of dementia, senility and a host of distresses and diseases.

I am happy to report that according to my notes, Zoe and I are in good shape; at least between our ears!

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NLT)

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Techno-kids

My new friend Victo Dolore’s recent post Wormholes at Behind the White Coat… sent my mind rummaging through old memories. I’d been bumbling through technology, again wishing Quinn could help me out – again.

kid phone pixabayI’ll be the first to say I wasn’t the world’s best mom – but I wasn’t among the worst either. Far too young when I started, with barely a clue about life, I’m now an authority on how not to parent.

My grandparents being my rocks, I now take being a grand parent seriously. Experience and not bearing the full burden of responsibility for young humans makes an immense difference.

My guys grew up technologically savvy and passed their skills on to their kids early. Clearly they didn’t get their skills from me, but I’m glad they have them.

On an outing to the zoo with the grand kids I met strong resistance collecting cell phones (from the 8-10 year olds!). “It’s just us today, gang,” I explained as their connections to the world disappeared inside Roo’s magic bag. I heard Ten-Year-Old mumble barely beneath her breath, “Yeah, us and hundreds of other people.”

Toward the end of the visit Eight-Year-Old asked to have one device – any one. He wanted a photo of us all enjoying each another.

Point taken.

Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.” Proverbs 17:6 (NLT)

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Memorial Day

zay kids vets

 

“We must constantly teach our children that freedom didn’t just happen.” Nathan  Lambert, US Army

…So that those who had not experienced war personally might know it:

Judges 3:2 (The Voice)

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Yeah, So My Son Wears a Skirt.

Sure, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, don’ cha know. Fresh buds are sheeting the landscapes with bright greens as if they too arrived for the Irish festivities.

jack meg 2016mar12

FirstBorn phoned me early this morning while drivin’ into Chicago for the first of the big parades this weekend. As we chatted, I envisioned he and his wife riding side-by-side, dressed in full celtic regailia.

Yeah, my son wears a skirt: a kilt, a sporran (or pouch), fly plaid (depending upon the weather), hose, garters, spats and depending upon the event they’re attending, either Balmoral or a Glengarry headgear. An’ it’s proud I am of him – and all my family.

 

band of brothers pNdFirstBorn, FirstBride and OtherBrother are members of The Band of Brothers Pipes and Drums Corps. An annual tradition, they gather in Chicago with thousands of celebrants, for the Dyein’ of the Chicago River, The St. Patrick’s Day Parade  and the Southside Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

jack drum 2015mar18

 

crabby 2016mar7crab jack 2012mar7

bookends 2016jan10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bob jack 2016jan10

Sure, an’ it’s a fine day, indeed!

 

 

“For you have heard my vows, O God. You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.”

Psalm 51:5 (NLT)

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

One Unforgettable Day

As the morning light crept across the floor I noticed black, wavy hair had already collected under the dining table. I took the Swiffer from the broom closet and wiped the floor from the front room carpet to the back door – again. As I tossed the sheet, fluffy with dog hair into the waste basket Hopi, our black, Golden-Aussie dog trotted into the room and stopped. She sensed my anxiety and studied me closely. 
 
I clicked my tongue and extended my hand toward her. She came near and sat beside me, leaning on me. I stroked her head as if doing so comforted her more than me. Hopi somehow knew what we all felt – something was not right. Nobody wanted to think about it. But we all felt it.
 
It was Tuesday, April 14, 2003. My second son deployed for Iraq on His grandpa’s birthday the end of February. By the second week of March, Nathan was able to send short emails every day or so. He phoned a couple of times, briefly reporting that he and his men were all good. But it had been almost two weeks since anyone heard from him.
 
Now, looking through the doorway to the computer monitor across the room, I saw the screensaver still undisturbed – no new email. Unable to sleep I’d gotten up and busied myself by cleaning the house hours before. Exhausted, but restless, I still needed to do something. I reluctantly said, “Walk?” Hopi stood, tail sweeping high and wide as she trotted across the room to take her leash in her mouth from the doorknob, carried it back to me and stood expectantly. Her eyes fixed on me, watching closely.
 
“Good morning.” Kerry called from the far side of the office.
 
“Hey, good morning.” I called back. 
 
The phone rang, startling us all. I spun on my heel, reaching for the handset on the table next to me, sucked in a deep breath and pressed the button. Hopi sat when she saw my shoulders droop slightly. Instead of the static-laced, overseas connection I’d hoped for, the recorded telemarketer squawked for a moment before I hung up. I heard Kerry sigh loudly as he hung up the handset in the office at the same time. Something had to give.
 
I took the leash from Hopi and she trotted before me a few feet toward the front door. As I passed the office doorway, Kerry leaned around his computer monitor, smiling at me – my sunshine. I paused hoping to not see any trace of concern which would increase mine. “Telemarketer” I reported already forgetting we’d both answered our handsets at the same time. We each considered something pleasant to say, but settled for silent smiles.
 
“We’re going to get some fresh air. You want to take a break?” I asked him.
 
“I tossed the ball for her when I got back from the depot. I want to try to finish this by eleven.” nodding to his screen while studying my face. He’d taken my fourth son Quinn to the train so I could stay by the phone. I nodded. Work was good and a healthy distraction. I had surrendered working on my manuscript for the more immediate gratification I get from cleaning.
 
“I need to walk” I reiterated.
 
He agreed, “It’ll do you good, Honey” still watching the doorway. We both sighed, waiting. I wondered if he too could practically see the apprehension in the air. With another sigh I started toward the door. Walking down the hall I lifted my coat from the hook, pulling it on. The newspaper clipping with the names of the troops already k.i.a., taped to the wall fluttered as we passed. The moments seemed longer, each step taking greater effort. At the door I pushed one hand through the sleeve, turned the doorknob with the other and then zipped the coat closed.
 
Stepping outside, Hopi right behind me, I stretched my arms up and then bent down to touch my shoes, amazed at the effort it took. Hopi sat waiting for me to click her leash onto her harness. It’s strange how I didn’t notice the harsh Chicago weather for the last week – it simply didn’t matter to me. Instead I imagined my son and his company finding relief from the average 80 degrees in Baghdad. Closing the door behind us, Hopi and I crossed the street to the park. 
 
As we walked the length of the block I envisioned Nathan and the company playing volleyball in the Iraqi sand, blowing off some steam. Then I realized they would be doing so in combat boots and battle dress uniforms. Scratch that thought. We were almost back where we’d started. I envied Hopi walking calmly, happily alongside me, her breathing slowing steadily.
 
“Hey!” I called, as though Kerry hadn’t heard us banging the storm door coming in. Anticipating I’d ask if there was any news, (like he wouldn’t have found me had there been), he called out, “Hi Babe.” And then, “Nothing yet.”
 
As if someone pulled my plug, my energy drained, exhaustion set in. The fact is, I hadn’t really slept other than brief cat naps for days. Before sunup I’d poured a cup of coffee, realized I’d already finished two, and then I poured it back into the pot. Feeling lost, I mechanically wiped the counters with a towel and then went to the table before I realized I had done that before sweeping. I reflected upon how the bursts of phone calls from friends at church and the rest of my family in other states kept me going like they hadn’t in years.
 
I sat down at the table. A moment later I rose, and stepped to my computer in the office again. Checking my email gave me no relief. I began to key whatever words came to mind: worry, fear, trepidation, war, danger, Nathan, please call or write. After a few more sentences that made no sense I took the keyboard from my lap and set it back on the desk. I stood, announcing more to the air than to Kerry that I was going downstairs. Kerry silently followed me with his eyes. He could see what I felt. There was nothing more to say. He nodded and went back to keying.
 
I started the washer and then realized there was nothing for me to put into it. I turned it off again and began washing the lid and the surfaces. While I wanted to think about times past, wiping grass and dirt from the top of the machine during little league seasons, I shook it off to keep my head in the present. This should not be so hard after raising four sons. But this was different from all his previous tours, even Bosnia-Herzegovina. Everything changed on September 11, 2001.
 
I walked back up the stairs, instantly recognizing the pronounced difference in the atmosphere. Kerry had stopped and stood in the doorway on his way out of the office. “She is right here” he said into the phone. Locking his eyes with mine, assuring me he was not moving, he handed the phone to me. Confused that I hadn’t heard it ring, something else struck a very flat, discomforting chord in me. I thought I felt a shock race from my hand to my feet and back as I raised the phone to my ear. 
 
 
“Hey Mom.” It is Nathan’s weary, reserved voice. But he doesn’t say Ma’am, as he has for some 15 years. The suppressed dread that had been stagnating for days, exploded.
I struggle to speak, “Oh, Nate…” 
“Listen Mom. I’m okay…” time slows. I recognize his voice is controlled – eerily, too controlled. I feel it  – I know what is coming. 
“Uh… I took a hit, Mom…” Again, not Ma’am.
I gasp, but no air flowed in. I glance up to see Kerry hiding his face behind his hands, his chest wretches. I must keep my focus on Nathan. I manage a quick breath.
“You are going to be alright, Natty…” I instinctively use the pet name I called him as a toddler that comforted him when he was sick or sad.
“I am, Mom.” The last time I heard fear in that voice was long ago, but louder than his voice, it screamed at me, mocked me now. I feel like someone shoved a wide blade in my diaphragm. I do not imagine fear in my son’s voice. Talking to his mom, it is real. The gravity sinks in, pushing that blade deeper. I pull myself tight, every muscle hard. Deep inside I find words, 
“I’m right here Natty. I’m not going anywhere. You can tell me. It’s okay.” I want to breathe, but I can’t risk drowning out his voice. He sounds strangely apologetic, 
“I’m gonna be okay, but I’m pretty messed up right now.”
He stammered slightly, “I – uh, Ma’am, my leg’s in a few pieces, an’ my boots are tore up…” 
This is not his usual precise speech, his carefully chosen words. This casual, slurred language coming from my uber-disciplined soldier son is dispersing my last shred of hope. This nightmare is real. I silently bare down again and shove,
“It’s okay, Natty. You’re going to be just fine. I know it. God’s not done with you yet.”
“Uh, roger that, Ma’am,” his familiar tone returns. He continues, “I was in full body armor, so I was pretty much covered, I’m not sure about my junk…” I heard someone very close to his head say, “The family is secure, Sarge. There are a couple of pieces of shrapnel in your glutes. Repeat, Sarge, the family is secure.” 
I hear Nathan acknowledge the corpsman, and goes on telling me, 
“…but shrapnel tore through my other hand. This awesome corpsman offered me his phone so I called you. Uh. I’m gonna be okay Ma’am.”
“I know you are, Son. Where are you now?” 
I am not surprised to hear him reply immediately, “Ma’am, I’m in a field hospital not far from Baghdad on Highway 8. They’re going to transport me to Landstuhl pretty quick here. And hey Ma’am…” 
I can hear a corpsman assuring him. I feel Kerry’s hands gently rest on my shoulders, now aware he is praying.
“Nate, good men have you now and I won’t stop praying until I can kiss your face.”
“Thank you, Ma’am. I know you will and I appreciate… Hey Mom, I’m real good an’ uh, I love you Mom.”
“I love you Natty. I always will.” I could hear him breathe calmly, deeply. I said softly, “I will see you real soon.”
He quietly agreed, “Oh, yes Ma’am.”
And now I hear nothing.
My instincts had been spot-on again. I stand frozen. Silent. Time stops. I do not feel. I do not think. I can not allow myself to feel.

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Filed under The World According to Roo