Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My Mother’s Christmas Tribute to the Military

My mother was the editor for an online forum (www.bellaonline.com) for awhile. One of the many wonderful and interesting accomplishments she has made over the past 60 years.

She wrote the piece below for Christmas 2007. I remember her calling both my sister and me on the phone to try it out on us. Of course, we cried as she read it to us.

Who would have known - and now I am crying again - that this would actually become a tribute to her son-in-law Jack and grandson John a short 12 months later?

Christmas Tribute to the Military
Author - Pam Cartwright

Christmas in the Great Lakes states is probably much like Christmas in other areas of the U.S. We don't have enough time or money to do everything we wish we could. We eat too much, spend too much, sleep too little and exercise only by walking into or out of the mall.

Our intentions are good. We buy special gifts for everyone we can think of. We make huge efforts to get just the right gifts..

Uncle Frank is so hard to buy for. Did I get that scarf for him?
Sue really loves tea. Will she like the tea set I bought her?
I have a doctor's appointment on Monday. Should I get something for the nurse at Dr. Johnson's office?

But, sometimes a gift has nothing to do with buying. It's a kind word or a lift to the grocery or a phone call to a far-away friend.

The other day as I was walking into our local supercenter I saw a person dressed in military clothing. You know the kind of outfit I'm talking about. We got used to it with Desert Storm – that desert fighting apparel. I was in awe, as I always am, when face-to-face with someone in the military. The person noticed me staring and shouted hello, so I returned the greeting. It got me to thinking about Christmas in the military. Today, I wrote this poem to thank the men and women who keep our country safe.

You are in my thoughts and prayers today as Christmas Eve draws near
I praise you for your sacrifice to protect what we hold dear
Your thoughts here at Christmastime, I hope are filled with trust
That you will soon be home again where you belong - with us
Each time I see a person clothed in military dress
I silently pray that they return whole and without stress
I give them my biggest smile and hope they understand
That I am thanking them right there in the only way I can
I do not know the harms you face, my information lacks
The knowledge of the place you go when you get summoned back
I share your love of country even if I do not go
You honor me by serving when you may not wish it so
As you read this ode to faith and hope and trust and love, I pray
That it will bring you peace and strength to make it through the day
Remember why we celebrate, remember that we care
Even in the midst of night when no one else is there
As you stand your vigils in the dark and your thoughts wander far
And your greatest wish - to be home - is wished upon a star
Please take my tribute to you and keep it in your heart
I only say what many feel while we are far apart
I hope the loneliness you have is one that you believe
Will make the world a better place each future Christmas Eve

Thank you.

Yes, she's amazing. I am so blessed to be her daughter. She's on my top friends list if you would like to drop her a line.

If you know someone in the service and would like to, please pass my mother's tribute along to them. She would be honored if you share this gift.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Gettin' Glad

My mother tells me that her grandma (who was all of 4'9") used to say, "You can get glad in the same clothes you got mad in," to her and her brothers and sisters when they'd get mad as kids. You should know that mom's grandma raised her 5 grandchildren after their mother died at 32 of breast cancer and their father died of a heart attack at 38.

My great-grandma was a spit fire of a lady! I've heard people say before, "There's a whole lotta woman packed in that little frame," and that aptly described my great-grandmother.

So, when grandma said, "You can get glad in the same clothes you got mad in," she meant to just deal with whatever the situation was, because it wasn't going to change anytime soon, least of all not before you changed outta them clothes.

And I think about that in relation to this week's presidential election. Here in America. In a democratic society . . . a government by the people . . . where majority rules. Where our voices are heard. Where one person can make a difference. Where every vote counts.

And during this election process, two candidates for the office of president came forth. Two honorable men who had strong desires to serve the country they love. Two men who campaigned tirelessly to present their platforms and, each in his own way, win the hearts and minds of the American people. Two men who were the focus of almost every conscious American's interest for a good 18 or so hours on November 4, 2008, as the voting began...and then ended. And then, as the day drew to a close, the votes were tallied, and one of the men won.

Despite who voted for whom, or which man is the best, or what you wanted or didn't want, the outcome is very simple. Majority ruled. One man won.

And a lot of people are mad about it.

So, as my great-grandma once said: YOU CAN GET GLAD IN THE SAME CLOTHES YOU GOT MAD IN.

Because it ain't gonna change anytime soon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Letting Him Go...Again

I had no idea what to expect when we walked into the airport that morning. Well, that's not exactly true. I suspected (ok I knew) that it was going to be one of the most difficult experiences of my life. But I had been practicing for a few months the fine art of "staying in the moment" whereby you don't think about the past or the future, you just glide along in the here and now and enjoy each experience as it comes.

And I had been pretty successful in doing that, so I hadn't really given much conscious thought to how the morning would unfold. I knew a few things for certain. First, I knew my husband was leaving. Second, I knew it was going to be difficult. Past that, I hadn't really allowed myself to build any preconceived expectations of what would happen.

I won't go into the details of our goodbye. I am pretty sure that if you've ever had to say goodbye (and most of us have) that you can insert your own experience here and feel the emotions I felt upon saying goodbye to my husband of two weeks. The husband I had waited over 20 years to have. My soulmate. My heart. I know you get me.

The purpose for me writing about this is what happened after I put my husband on that plane. The airport authority was kind enough to allow me to accompany my husband back to the gate. After we said our final goodbye, he walked through the doorway and I lost sight of him as he made his way down the walkway and boarded the awaiting aircraft.

I made myself stand there and watch him. I waited a few moments. I think I was holding my breath. I didn't want to leave yet...I could still feel him there. So, I walked over to the window and sat in a chair and watched the plane. Some tears were sliding down my cheeks, but I wasn't out and out crying. I was in pretty good control of myself, considering. I sat there for several minutes and then something told me it was time to leave.

I stood, and began to make my way alone back the way Jack and I had come together less than 20 minutes before. I had only taken about 10 steps, when an older man in a long coat with a briefcase walked closely by me. He looked my way and simply said, "It will be okay," and then he was gone. I don't remember anything about him other than the coat and briefcase and words. I wouldn't be able to recognize him again, even if we were formally introduced. I was in a kind of fog.

As I made my way back through the airport, toward my children who were waiting in the car, I thought about the kindness of a stranger. The words are still with me. He was right. It will be okay.

And I hope that the man in the long coat was catching a plane home to a loving family. And that when he arrived, someone who loves him was there to greet him with a hug and a smile. He deserves that and more, for simply and without intruding, reaching out to a crying woman in an airport who had just placed the love of her life on the first step of a long journey far away from her.

Thank you, man in the long coat. You're in my prayers.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I wanna be like Christan!

Directions: Place an X by all the things you've done and remove the X from the ones you have not. Answer the 30 questions at the end and tag 3 (or more) of your friends to play too!(This is for your entire life.)

(x ) Gone on a blind date

(x) Skipped school

( ) Watched someone die

(x ) Gone to Canada

( ) Gone to Mexico

(x) Gone on a plane

( ) Jumped out of a plane

( ) Been on a Helicopter

(xxxxxxxxxxxxx) Gotten lost

(x)Gone on the opposite side of the country

( ) Gone to Washington, DC

(x) Swam in the ocean

(x) Cried your self to sleep

(x ) Played cops and robbers

( ) Recently colored with crayons

(x) Sang Karaoke

(x)Paid for a meal with coins only

(x) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't

(x) Made prank phone calls

(x) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose

(x) Caught a snowflake on your tongue

(x) Danced in the rain

(x) Written a letter to Santa Claus

(x) Gotten kissed under the mistletoe

(x) Watched the sunrise with someone you care about

(x) Blown bubbles

(x) Gone ice-skating

(x) Gone Skiing (water & snow)

(x) Gone skinny dipping outdoors

(x) Gone to the movies

(x) Gone to a drive-in movie

1. Any nickname? Jack calls me baby, the kids call me mommy, Stacey calls me Teena Weena LOL

2. Mother's name? Pamela

3. Favorite drink? Sweet tea

4. Tattoo? yep, 1

5. Body piercings? not yet

6. How much do you love your job? on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) - 8.5

7. Birthplace? Cloverdale, In

8. Favorite vacation spot? Anywhere that phones and tv's are hard to come by

9. Ever been to Africa ? no, but I'd love to

10. Ever eaten cookies for dinner? yes, recently! :)

11. Ever been on TV? does America's Most Wanted count? just kidding. Not that I am aware of.

12. Ever steal any traffic sign? no

13. Ever been in a car accident? Yes, a couple - but like Christan - none were my fault.

14. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? haha - 5 door - hatch back

15. Favorite salad dressing? honey mustard or chunky bleu cheese

16. Favorite pie? peach

17. Favorite number? 7 because it's magic

18. Favorite movie? The Jerk with Steve Martin (comedy) and City of Angels for romantic

19. Favorite holiday? All of them. I really love Halloween!

20. Favorite dessert? tiramisu (if it's made well)

21. Favorite food? it's too difficult to choose

22. Favorite day of the week? Today!

23. What do you do to relax? what's that? hahaha - i agree with Christan!

24. Favorite toothpaste? Crest with the little pink sparklies

25. Favorite smell? lavender usually - but i love anything that smells clean

26. What month were you born in? August - TODAY in Fact! :)

27. Favorite Candle Scent? merlot

28. How do you see yourself in 10 years? Married to Jack, loving our children

29. What 3 people do you tag to do this meme? Stacey, Rachel, Mom

30. Who will be the first to respond? we'll see

Friday, August 08, 2008

Breathless

Dear Heavenly Father, please protect Jack and the rest of our soldiers as they actively participate in the fight against terrorism. Please place a protective barrier around all of our soldiers and make them invisible to their enemies. I pray that You stand beside them . . . in front of them . . . whatever it takes to protect their bodies from the bullets of those who would take their lives. Please protect their hearts and minds from the mental stress and trauma of war. Please, Dear Father, allow them to see the light of another day. Our soldiers are precious to us. They are our husbands, friends, brothers, fathers, fianc├ęs, and we need them home with us as soon as Your will allows it. Please make it soon.

In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Watch Over Him...


Artwork by Jenny B Harris.

In the last month, I have learned that...

family is made up of all sorts of people - not just those born into it

pain won't kill me

I can function pretty well on very little sleep

to prioritize my activities according to what's most important to me

I have an unlimited supply of tears

I am wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy stronger than I thought I was

I can go from a deep sleep to fully awake in less than 2 seconds when Jack calls at 4am


it costs me approximately $8 in gas to get to work and back, but for 42 cents I can mail a letter halfway around the world

the glue on the flap of an envelope tastes really gross

there are a bazillion ways to say "I love you"

prayer works - God listens

there are some awesome women on this planet and I am glad to call them my friends (Theresa, Penny, Stacey, Joyce, Arlene, Linda, Beth, Jignasa)

there are some incredibly strong military wives who were perfect strangers less than a month ago (Christan and Chantel) who are now a source of great strength and inspiration to me

I simply adore Jack's ex's (Barbie & Kelly)

Jack's mother is an amazing woman (Dottie), and I cherish every moment we spend together, whether it's talking about our day or saying our evening prayers

Jack's sisters are heroes (Tina & Gina)

the man who loves me is incredibly brave and unselfish

I am going to love being part of the Hignite Family (again)

the group of children I love the most has doubled (Joel, Sammy, Rachel, Mikey, Alexis, John, Meg, Mariah, Olivia)

just because you're someone else's child doesn't mean I can't love you like my own (Kevin, Jessica, Stephanie, Jason)


my mother (Pam) and my sister (Rachel) are amazing women, and I can't even begin to think who I would be today without them

I am blessed

This is by no means a complete list of the things I have learned in the past month. But it's a good start.

What have you learned in the past month?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thinking about him...

There are times during the day (mostly when I'm writing or blogging, or when I'm driving to and from work) when it's absolutely silent and I'm all alone with myself. During those times, I shut the world out and just think about Jack. I let random memories and images from our teenage years and our adult years flood my mind and heart.



Sometimes, the thoughts come to me on a breeze . . . like catching the soft scent of a lilac bush as you're walking by. Thoughts of him drift lazily into my head. I'll remember something awesome he said to me ("I love you, Tina") or a request he's made ("I want our first dance after we're married to be to I Can't Help Falling In Love With You.").

And sometimes, thoughts of him pop! zing! wham! right into my head at odd times. Like a little girl who jumps on your back like a monkey when you least expect it! These thoughts and memories of the fun and laughter and excitement we've shared are the ones that threaten to knock me off my feet and make me forget where I am and what I'm doing.

Like today, while I was in a meeting at work. No disrespect to the presenter (he's an awesome guy), but the topic was b-o-r-i-n-g. And it was almost two hours of boring. So, naturally, the mind (at least MY mind) strayed away from SOP changes and process updates and such to more pleasant things like how much laundry I have to do when I get home (LOTS!) and what I'm going to eat for dinner (Penny's yummy Mexican lasagna). I for sure had the TEGO thing going on (TEGO=The Eyes Glaze Over), and suddenly, there it was in front of me.

I was gone from that room and those people, and for about 60 seconds, I was filled with a rush of memories...

Arriving at the airport. The look on his face when we made eye contact for the first time in over 20 years. The hotel room in Killeen. Jack in his Army sweats, and me in mine. His eyes. The ice-cold air conditioning. Braunschweiger & Ritz crackers. Holding hands. Charlie Gordon's War. Jack's laugh. The Alamo. Lots! Of! Music! Man on the Moon. PT. Trips to the base. Kisses. Little Italy. Meeting John. Our song. Java Monsters. Hearing his key in the door. Tanks. Breakfast at that little table in our room. Snuggling.

My heart and mind were filled with the most awesome memories of my trip to visit him in Texas.

I didn't check out for too long. At least I wasn't nodding off to sleep like some people were. hahaha! I saw a few heads nodding. Like I said it was a boring topic and it was a bit warm in the room.

So, I made it through the meeting. I did manage to actually absorb quite a bit of the info and what I didn't quite catch, I will refer to the handouts.

And, as if on cue, just as the meeting was concluding, my cell phone vibrated.

It was my soldier...my hero...my warrior...my love.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Night Walker, a.k.a. Who kidnapped the #@%*& sandman!

Why do I have to be close to brain death in order to get any sleep these days?!?!?!

I just lay in bed tossing and turning, until the covers are a mess and I'm all sweaty and frustrated. I just can't sleep, and nothing's working.

I don't want to drink a glass of wine, because then I'll get all sentimental and cry (more than usual) and I might drunk-dial someone. (Yes, I'm a lightweight drinker.) And I'm afraid to start taking any sleeping meds because I don't want to get addicted. (Or do I...?) Just kidding.

I've been writing a TON since Jack was deployed - both online and in my journals (I have a record FOUR journals going right now).

Alright. I've got to get a handle on this. It's 1:48am on Monday and I need to be at work early - like in 5 hours! YIKES!

But, don't worry, I'm not insane yet. I'll let you know if it gets REALLY bad. Maybe. :)

Wish me luck... I'm going to go try again.

Oh, and if you see the sandman, would you send his punk ass my way, please?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Borrowing from a comment on Christan's blog

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Enough said.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blessed to have choices

So, this post begins with a power struggle.

Lately, my heart and my brain both want to be in charge. Neither is willing to take a backseat to the other. So, when I start feeling too much (i.e., crying my eyes out) then my brain kicks into high gear, pulling me from my heart and throwing me head-first into thinking mode. Which leads me to a natural defense mode called "how do I fix this?" I quickly come to the conclusion that I can't "fix" anything, because truly, nothing is broken. And then I feel helpless, and I find myself crying again. It's exhausting.

I was thinking today about the way I feel now that Jack has deployed. I'm always about 3 inches from crying, and while it's true that I am by nature an emotional creature, it's never been anything like this.

So, Choice popped into my head today, and Blessing popped into my heart.

I know that nothing in life happens by accident. We make choices in our lives, mostly based on who we believe we are and what we think we deserve. Those choices lead us down a path. A path which, at any moment, we can choose to abandon or pursue. We have a choice. Plain and simple. There are no accidents. We cause things to happen in our lives based on our choices. We have created the life we have right now, based on our choices. I have created the life I have right now. Jack created the life he has right now. We had free will. We made deliberate choices.

So, I started to think about blessings. When I normally think of blessings, I think mainly of prayer and Thanksgiving. But the blessings in my heart today are slightly different.

It's like being blessed with dirty dishes. It means I have food to eat, right?

It's like being blessed with high gas prices. It means I have a car to drive, a place to go, and a vehicle to get there, right?

It's like being blessed with presidential debates that interrupt my regularly scheduled progamming. It means I live in a democratic society, right?

Or being blessed with tears because I miss Jack. It means I love and am loved in return. Right!

Or being blessed with fears because I worry for Jack and his army brothers' safety. It means that our country's freedoms are being protected by extremely brave men. Right!

Thank God that we have the blessings of experiencing the natural outcomes of our choices. It means we're free. It means we're in charge.

Life is deliberate, purposeful and solid.

I feel blessed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sidewalks to Nowhere

While the laundry was drying, I decided to take a walk through the neighborhood near our hotel. I had actually been planning on taking a nice, long walk for a couple of days, but the farthest I'd managed to get was the edge of the parking lot.

The neighborhood turned out to be really quiet. It's an older neighborhood, filled with modest one-story homes. I saw people here and there, outside enjoying the day. I said hello to an older gentleman as he was walking back with his mail and made a comment about the weather to a lady who was setting up her sprinkler.

As I walked, I made a conscious effort to stay in the moment. I wanted to forever imprint in my memory the sounds, smells and feelings I was experiencing. I found myself looking up quite often, noticing the blueness of the sky, how fluffy the clouds were and how fast the Texas wind was whipping them across the sky. I enjoyed the feeling of the wind moving my curls around and made no effort to brush my hair from my face. The warmth of the sun, the humidity and the wind combined to make it feel like I was walking through bathwater. In the distance, I could hear the hypnotic sound of cars as they whooshed along the freeway. I heard birds calling out in a bird language I don't recall ever hearing. And there were trees of a variety I've never seen. It all felt very surreal, in a pleasantly numb and unfamiliar way.

I noticed that the sidewalk I was on ended abruptly about 20 feet ahead. I looked around, and there was another one across the street that also ended for no apparent reason. I thought of them as Sidewalks to Nowhere. It's like, originally there was a purpose - someone had a plan to build a sidewalk, but then they got bored or tired or whatever and never bothered to finish. Or they decided that wherever the sidewalk was supposed to actually lead to, it really wasn't worth the effort. Or maybe they never intended to build a sidewalk that actually went anywhere. Maybe the plan all along was for it to end into nothingness. It was all very Stephen King-ish.

I don't know why these Sidewalks to Nowhere are bothering me so much. I wonder what they represent in my life. Maybe paths (sidewalks) I started building at different points in my life that I decided weren't worth the effort. Or maybe there was a trail (sidewalk) I was blazing toward some pipedream that I lost interest in. Or maybe there were times I took a street (sidewalk) just to see what was down there and then decided to turn around without giving it a chance.

I hear it. I hear the sound of Deeper Meaning. It's getting pretty close, but I'm on vacation, so I'm going to go watch tv or play a game or call someone. And (maybe) I'll think about Sidewalks to Nowhere later.

For now, I'm going to make a conscious effort to stop thinking about them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quotes

"Sure I am that this day we are masters of our fate, that the task which has been set before us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not above my endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied us."

- Winston Churchill

*****

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

- Randy Pausch

*****

You can't scrub "ugly" away.

*****

Put your energy into the things you can change and let go of everything else.

*****

The only reason we create distance between ourselves is because we know there isn't any.

*****

Don't panic. Keep a level head. Think clearly. Press on. Be determined. Accept what you cannot change. When life kicks you, make sure it kicks you forward.

- Kay Yow (NC State head coach)

*****

"Do you know the people you are fighting?"

"I don't want to know them. I may have to kill them."

*****

Intermittent panicky skepticism was to be expected whenever you stepped off the cliff, whenever you went into some realm of experience that wasn't modeled and accepted and approved and stuck into a nice frame by society at large.

*****

Life should be a little nuts. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of Thursdays strung together.

*****

When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on so long in the first place.

*****

If you want it, make it happen.

- Mike Jones

*****

Winners lose more than Losers. They win and lose more than Losers, because they stay in the game.

- Terry Paulson

*************************************************************************************

I'm really good at jotting down little quotes I hear that make sense to me or beg to be thought of more deeply. However, I'm not always good at writing down who said what. So, I didn't say any of these things where there's no author listed, I just heard them. But from whom, I have no idea.

The Hokey Pokey

I think it's about:

* doing the things you didn't think you could...
* loving people you've never met...
* loving people you've just met...
* loving people you've known a lifetime...
* loving the seemingly unlovable...
* and knowing when to walk away...
* daring to dream wild dreams...
* believing...in everything...but especially in yourself...
* not being afraid...
* creating the reality you want...
* not being afraid to lose...
* taking chances of the heart...
* every once in a while leaping before you look...just because it's exciting...
* stepping off the line of the predictable now...
* eating breakfast for dinner...
* eating dessert first...
* falling hopelessly, totally, head-over-heels in love...
* not second-guessing your decisions...
* trusting your heart...
* choosing a path in life that serves you...
* knowing what serves you...
* allowing and actually enjoying it when people do things for you...
* knowing that time will pass...
* trust...
* love...
* always love.

I don't think I'll ever really figure out what it's all about. Life, that is. At least I hope I don't. Because not knowing makes it magical, like anything can happen. Like, no matter how I thought my life was going to turn out, there is no script. This is as solid and real as I want it to be.

And lately? Well, lately I've wanted Solid and Real. I mean, I want to create them. With someone very special. And I found him. Thank God, I found him.

And we get to decide together what's solid and real.

Always love. My heart feels good.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sayings & Quotes that have made it to my whiteboard

Results may vary.

Do the thing you didn't think you could.

Begin today.

Quiet the inner critic.

Fun is a renewable resource!

I am kind of a paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy. (JD Salinger)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Beyond This Point...

When hunting monsters, care must be taken to not become one yourself.