Going on a road trip with the Mr. is always a challenge. It begins when we decide we are going to go visit our son or my mother. First there is the decision on what route to take. I hate driving on the interstate. Boring beyond words, especially in southeastern Arkansas. It is so flat there it makes Oklahoma look like it has mountains. The Mr. however, loves to drive on the interstate because he can drive faster than on regular state roads. He doesn’t care about the scenery or small towns. But that is because he gets tunnel vision and becomes totally focused on getting from point A to point B as fast as possible.
Because he is driving, he has something to concentrate on. I am one of those people who gets miserably car sick. I can’t so much as read a map in the moving car without my stomach trying to turn inside out. So I am sitting in the passenger seat with nothing to do but look out the window. I can try to have a conversation with the Mr. but his brain generally isn’t into it. I get bored fast on the interstate. On the state highways, there are things to see like odd small towns, landscapes, and the occasional animal. Sometimes I get to drive if we are on state roads, mostly though, the Mr. drives. Not because he likes to, and not because I am a bad driver, I am actually better at it than him. But, I get tired easily, so I don’t often get to chose the route.
The second issue, once in the car, is the music. The rule in our family is the driver gets to pick the music. Except he doesn’t choose music, he listens to talk radio. Which is fine for a bit, but on an eight hour drive, it gets old and repetitive. With satellite radio, there are hundreds of choices for music. And we have the MP3 options as well. If he does choose a music station, it stays on that station no matter what they play. I, however, like to switch stations -a lot. Why listen to a song that is boring or by someone you can’t stand when there is so much to choose from? But the Mr. hates it when I do that. He also hates the music turned up loud. Why the heck bother to have it on if you can barely hear it? Makes it hard to sing along.
The third issue, do we stop for the night or just keep going? Its a toss up whether the Mr. will stop or not. I can pull the “I don’t feel well” card and he will stop no matter how close we are to the destination. Sometimes, I just get worn out and claustrophobic being stuck in a car for hours on end. We generally manage about eight hours in the car before I start getting stressed and antsy. The Mr. will keep driving until he is too tired to see straight or we get there.
The fourth issues, one that many women of a certain age deal with is the bathroom stops. Look, a woman my age has a bladder the size of a walnut, and we have to have a pit stop every hour or so. We hold it as long as possible, really we do. We can’t help it if that means we stop fifty miles down the road from the last stop or two hundred. Either we don’t drink anything and dehydrate, or we have to stop as often as our body demands. And no, we can’t just stop on the side of the road like guys can, not and be comfortable, private, or safe. So just get used to a pit stop every hour or so, or have a dehydrated, hateful witch on your hands. Your choice. The Mr. stops. He knows better than to suggest anything else.
We haven’t been on a long road trip in a long time. We try to keep it within a day’s drive when we go on short vacations. Once we retire, I want to travel to the seven states we have never been to out of the fifty in the US. Some how I don’t know that we will do that and keep from annoying each other. I guess we will have to give it a go and see how it works out. One thing for sure, I am going to drive as much as possible, take back roads, and turn up the music while I switch stations regularly. The Mr. can just deal with it.
This morning I was deep into the new book I’m writing. Totally involved with my characters who are at a pivotal moment in the story. They were This Close to resolving an important problem, and the phone rang in my real world. Poof! The imaginary world I was living in just went Poof. Rats. And a whole lot of other not nice words escaped control and ran around my brain like squirrel in a trap. I hate when that happens, the interruptions, not the words, well as long as no one hears me say them out loud.
Writing, for me, is hard work, unless I am in the groove and the story writes itself. I get so involved with my characters and the story they are telling that their world seems more real than mine. I know I am sitting at my desk typing words on the screen. I know I am in my messy, really need to clean one day, house. I know I am wearing my ratty pajamas and three sizes too big sweater. I know I need to comb my hair at some point. I KNOW all of that, but the world I am telling about in the story is so much more interesting. So when the real world intrudes on my imaginary world, it really, Really, REALLY annoys me. And then I think not nice words and snap at whomever is on the other end of the phone.
The Mr. has learned, when I say I am going to write, not to bother me with unimportant stuff. His hair had best be on fire if he bothers me. He knows I will glare and snap at him, especially if I am at what he calls a good part in the story. He gets involved with my characters as much as I do when he reads my daily pages. Recently, he told me that he didn’t like what was happening to the hero of the story, it was depressing. I had to point out that in real life everyone has bad things happen so there can be a happy ending. He understood, but he still grumble for three days that it wasn’t fair the poor guy couldn’t just be happy. Of course, when I killed off one of his favorite characters, he was really ticked. But hey, it had to happen if the story was going to move forward. Once again, the real world interrupted my imaginary world. Critics. They are everywhere, even among those I love.
I am going to give writing one more go today. If the phone doesn’t ring, the dog doesn’t start barking, nothing breaks, and no one knocks on the door, maybe I can get back into that groove. I am anxious to see what the characters are going to do about their problems. I am going back into the world of imagination, wish me luck.
Today I was listening to music I grew up hearing my parents and grandparents sing, and some that I grew up singing as well. Music is as much of a part of my heart and soul as my love for my children. I can’t imagine not hearing music every day. Sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes it makes me cry, sometimes I want to dance, and others I listen for the emotions the song imparts to everyone.
My mom and dad were in a band most of my life in one place or another. There are certain songs I heard them rehearse many times, songs that always remind me of them no matter who sings it or where it is performed. My mother has a unique voice and she can sing just about any song from her lifetime, but when I think of the song that reminds me most of mom, it is always a Patsy Cline song called Walking After Midnight. Hers is one of the best renditions other than one by Patsy herself. Here’s Patsy from Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owpdDjsErA4 My dad sang a lot of good Country music. I learned to love George Jones, Ray Price, and Johnny Cash along with many others from Dad.
When we were little kids, he sang a song called Old Shep. Every time he sang it all four of us girls would cry. This is Johnny Cash, singing his rendition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km0zHbxvwZQ But, I think my favorite songs were the ones Mom and Dad sang as duets. They had an uncanny ability to harmonize as beautifully as the Everly Brothers. They could bring an entire audience to their feet when they sang the old love songs so many grew up with in their generation. One of my favorite songs is one I often sing to my husband. This is Let It Be Me, by the Everly Brothers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYpdLb6eKg8 When I hear that song, all I want to do is slow dance with my Mr.
My dad is gone now, probably having a great time playing and singing with the great stars that went ahead of him. My mom still sings occasionally at various venues. She still has, at the age of, ahem, never mind, a strong, solid mid range voice. Hit the right intro key and she can sing the song as long as she knows the words. She still gets standing ovations, and she will always have the soul of a natural performer. I wish I didn’t get stage fright so bad, I would love to do a duet with her just once. Something from the greatest singers of her generation, its a dream.
One of the earliest memories I have is my paternal granddad playing his guitar in the evening as the sun went down. Ingrained in my memory, I see him sitting on his old rocking chair in the yard, softly picking out a tune, sometimes singing, sometimes humming along. It was easy to see in his face that music brought him calm and peace. He loved the melodies of his era, and he shared them with everyone. He was always willing to teach someone to play the guitar, or to learn a song. My mother has an old school book in which he pasted the words to songs he wanted to learn. Some of them have long since been forgotten by most people, but there, in black and white, are the songs my granddad loved. I am still searching for recordings of many of them.
I hope my grandchildren will remember that their slightly crazy Nana loved music. I will never be a performer, but I will always sing in my home, my car, back yard, and to every baby who comes in my home. Babies aren’t critics, they just want to hear music and rock with Nana. Meanwhile, I will go back to listening to the music of my childhood. Sonny James seems like a good choice. This is for my Mr. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU_8D5jBqd0 because he is my first and only love.
Like many people my age, I am flat out confused by the younger generation’s determination to paint all things traditionally American as evil. Since I have been bed bound for the past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to think, and I may have found a partial answer to the problem.
People of my generation, the much touted “Baby Boomers” were raised by men and women who were from the greatest generation ever put on this planet. They are the WWII, Korean, and Viet Nam veterans. They were the men and women who faced the greatest evil of all time, followed by those who faced down communism on two battle fields to keep innocent people from being murdered and imprisoned. If President Johnson and his cadre of criminals hadn’t been such cowards, we would have wiped out the Viet Cong and saved millions from the killing fields. But I digress.
Our parents were stalwart, hardworking, patriotic, American citizens who believed in the American dream. Some were first generation Americans whose parents immigrated to give them a better life. Some, like my family, has been in America since the earliest days of European occupation. Some came from generations of American Indians who lived here since the beginning of human occupation. What all these people had in common was an understanding of what it meant to be an American. Immigrants came here to become Americans, to leave behind the ills of their native land, bringing their customs and creativity to add to the melting pot that is and always will be unique to our great country.
Those men and women of my parent’s generation and the generations before them were not afraid of hard work and sacrifice for the good of their family and their community. It didn’t matter where you came from, it mattered where you were going and how you planned to get there. After WWII, the survivors came back with the horrors of war written into their minds and hearts, but they tried to move forward and leave it in the past. The faced the nightmares, worries, and fear with their usual determination to overcome the evil and make their lives worth living.
They taught us to be strong, to think things through, to work hard, to overcome adversity without whining and feeling sorry for ourselves, and to have pride in our country and all that she stood for. We believed in the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. In my generation that included all people, no matter color, religion, creed, or code. We are all Americans, those who are citizens and here legally. We stood tall, and we believed in the very freedoms that make the United States of America a one of a kind country.
Because we were raised by the great generation, there were certain boundaries we didn’t cross. We didn’t insult our flag, our military men and women, or out elders who built all that we could use to build our lives. We gave thanks for the good, and tried to eliminate the bad. We went to church, we believed in Christianity, and welcomed those with other beliefs, at least most of us did. We wanted to be like our parents and grandparents. We wanted to stand side by side with those who fought for our freedom, and we wanted to teach our children to appreciate the same things.
Some of us failed, some of us were successful, and it is easy to see who was which by looking at the behavior of their progeny today. Those that failed have snowflake, fearful, perpetually offended, petulant children who at the age of thirty are still as immature as most teenagers under sixteen. They wear their anger and hostility toward American values like a badge of honor or trophy for participation. They aren’t winners at anything because winning is evil and bad since that means someone has to lose. Their parents encouraged the little darlings to believe they were perfect in all things and no one has the right to tell them no. In short, they haven’t learned how to be adults, and at this rate probably never will.
Those that didn’t fail have kids who left home, got a job, went to school for a career and made one for themselves, got married, had kids of their own, and stand for the same values as the greatest generation. Family, Country, God, and Community. They value our history, Constitution, and freedoms as all Americans have from the beginning. In short, the successful parents have successful kids who will pass on the same values to their children and grandchildren.
Granted, before everyone gets on the hate wagon, America hasn’t been perfect. But most people have to go back two or more generations to find issues to whine about. Since the 1960’s all people, black, Hispanic, white, or green with purple polka dots, are equal and have equal OPPORTUNITY to be as successful as they want to be. Some get it easier with affirmative action than others, but the opportunity is still there for all. Today’s big whine is that illegals should be allowed in no matter what. Tell that to the generations who sacrificed all to get into this country legally. Their answer will be simple, “Get in line and wait your turn.” They did.
This country, like most who want a Republic instead of any other form of government, has had its growing pains. We have been up and down financially. We have had growing pains in expansion and overcoming wars and rumors of war. But we have always come out on top because of the values and ideals of the American dream of independence, core values, and the strength of the men and women who came before us.
I believe that every single snowflake generation child should have to sit down with a person of the great generation, especially Holocaust survivors, and listen to their stories. My mother grew up in a one room cabin, with no running water and bare minimum electricity in rural Oklahoma in the 1930’s and 1940’s. My Dad grew up on an Indian Reservation in Arizona for most of his life. Both were from dirt poor families. Today, my dad is gone, but my mother lives alone on a 40 acre farm in Oklahoma. She is made of tougher stuff than most of us are, and she will go on doing what she wants for as long as she can. Ask most of the people her age if they want help and they will tell you no in no uncertain terms.
So many snowflake kids today haven’t a clue what hardship truly is. For them losing the charger to their phone is catastrophic. I so want to put them out on a farm in the middle of no where with no amenities and see how long they last. I have a standing bet that it will be less than 48 hours. What the snowflakes need is a lesson in reality. There are millions of young men and women their age who know that reality is hard work and learning to adapt and overcome the bad in life instead of whining about it. Many are in the military, many are police officers and other first responders, many are teachers and business owners, many are blue collar workers, and some are even rich kids whose parents made them earn what they got. Oh, and no more participation trophies, either you win one or you learn how to cope with losing.
We need the snowflake kids to learn from the greatest generation and their children before they are all gone. Time is short, take advantage of the knowledge they have before it is lost in the history of the whiners and moaners. Either learn from them or learn the hard way that life is not given to you to fritter away in self adoration, it is given to you as a test to see if you are made from the right stuff. Most snowflakes don’t even know what that means. Sad.
One winter, when I was about six years old, every kid in my family came down with a series of diseases. Measles, followed by chicken pox, followed by mumps. For three months my mother was stuck in the house with four little girls covered by some sort of bumps and dealing with a fever. We were hot, itchy, cooped up, and miserable. We all fell ill, like dominoes, one after the other. How my mother kept her sanity is beyond me. And to make things even more stressful, my dad was out in the field with the US Army and we were stationed in Germany with no family to help. I don’t remember a lot about that winter, except for one shining moment.
I got well first. I cannot tell you how great it was to not itch, and to be able to go outside. For Christmas, my older sister and I got our first bicycles. We were too sick to ride them for weeks after Christmas. I got to ride my bike before my sister got to be outdoors. I remember riding it up and down the sidewalk outside our flat, looking up at the third floor window where my sisters all stood watching me. As the second child, I rarely got to do anything first. I was chuffed beyond words. All three stood scowling at me, and I have to admit I was feeling pretty cocky that I was out and they were still in itchy hell. I was six, give me a break and don’t judge. As an adult, I know it was cheeky and rude, but as a child, I just felt empowered.
It wasn’t long before all four of us were well and back to running in and out of the house like we usually did. The memories of being miserable faded, and my special moment did too. We were finally back in school, and I know my mother was happy beyond words to have survived the winter of illness. Spring came and we were outside more than inside the house. In fact, we didn’t want to be indoors if we could avoid it. With spring came our usual battles with the Jones kids. We hated the Jones kids, they were bullies and meaner than a ticked off snake. Debra was the only girl, and she decided she was going to make my little sister’s life hell. Her closest sibling was Billy, he was twelve, my older sister was seven, and I was six. It was our job to look after the two younger girls. Billy would pick on us every time his sister started being rude or hateful and we put her in her place. I have always been, and will always be, a sarcastic smart mouth.
One afternoon on the playground, I got into it with Debra again. Billy started in on my sister, and I jumped in with a bowling pin. I have no idea where the wooden pin came from, but it was perfect to beat the snot out of Billy. So I set to, and he went home to whine to his mother. About that time, my mother turned up on the playground, (my next younger sister was always a tattle tale) to see what was going on. Mrs. Jones started shouting out her window at my mother. Mrs. Jones was probably close to six feet tall and weighed in at well over 200 pounds. My mother was five feet four inches tall and weighed about 110 pounds. Mom told Mrs. Jones that if she wanted a fight to get her fat @$$ down stairs and she would be happy to oblige her. She wouldn’t come down, and Mom was more than ready to go up and drag her out by her hair. But the other moms got her to calm down. No one insulted her girls. Now you know where I get my bad attitude and willingness to take on anyone. My sister and I got a reputation for fighting. Most people left us alone, except for the Jones brats and a girl called Rita.
Rita was bigger than my sister and I, since we tended to be on the shrimpy side. One day walking home from school she ambushed us. It wasn’t a long fight, my sister pretty much ended it before it got started, darn it. Rita’s problem was her dirty mouth and the way she thought she could talk to anyone that way. In our family, if we had sworn like that, my mother would have made us eat a bar of soap. The problem was that we wouldn’t put up with it from anyone else either. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well when my parents found out we had been fighting again. We followed the house rule of never starting a fight, but we sure as hell finished one. I guess my attitude was built into my genes. My dad and mother were scrappers in school, my sons were also willing to take on a fight anytime, and at least one of my grandchildren is a scrapper too. Thinking back on those days it is a wonder my dad didn’t get into trouble due to our fighting. Of course, one look at my tiny sister and the almost as tiny me, and every boy we fought with had a very embarrassed Dad since two skinny girls beat the stuffing out of their big brave boy.
I fought less as I grew older, but the years between six and eight were the banner years for my hot temper. I learned to control it better, but I never managed to curb the smart mouth and sarcastic comments that fell out of it regularly. Looking back, I was a bit of a bad ass. It tends to make me smile when I think back on those days.
I grew up in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. I listened to music on the radio all the time, and my parents played and sang with a band my whole life. Artists like Sam Cook, The Platters, Neil Sedaka, Bobby Vinton, all of the early Motown artists, and early rock and roll stars along with country singers were the mainstays in my home. As far back as I can remember, music was the way I expressed my feelings and learned to understand what others were feeling.
I fell in love listening to the pop and rock of the 1960 and 1970 hippie era. The first song I dance to with the love of my life was Never My Love by the Association. It still makes me want his arms around me when I hear it. Today, when I listen to songs from that era, memories overwhelm me. And it is always the man who became my best friend, lover, and husband who is forefront in those memories.
I remember rocking my babies to music from the mid 1970’s, and singing to them along with the radio in my car right up until they were nearly teenagers. I did the same to my grandchildren, and now, great grandchildren. Recently, I was listening to music on satellite radio. I ran across the Elvis station, and every song they played was one I could sing word for word. Funny how that works, I don’t remember a conversation from a week ago, but I know the words to a song I learned when I was nine years old. Maybe it is because the music makes us feel something, maybe our brains are wired to respond to rhymes and rhythm so it is easier to remember the lyrics. I don’t care, really, I simply want to always remember songs that lift me up, make me cry, long for my love, or feel joy.
Today I was listening to a song list of love songs I compiled. I put it together to help me concentrate as I worked on my newest novel. I didn’t realize how powerful the music was until I found myself trying to type with tears in my eyes. It was a song by Bette Midler. The Rose is the song I associate with the loss of our oldest son. The last lyrics are:
When the night has been too lonely/And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only/For the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter/Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love/In the spring becomes the rose
Because I believed with all my heart, that beneath the bitterness of his loss, we would all grow and one day, with the love of the Son of God, spring would come to our hearts and lift us out of our sorrow and bitterness. Years have gone by, and we have begun to see the spring around us and the rose is his beloved daughter and her daughter that brought life back to our sorrowful hearts.
Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I am all alone at home. My beloved is visiting his brother. I didn’t think I would miss him so much. Now I am spending the evening listening to music that reminds me of him and the times of our lives. I want to wrap each memory up in a song and put it away in my heart like the gift it is meant to be.
This is the newest song we dance to. It’s by Chris Stapelton, More of You. Because even after all of these years, I still want more of you, my beloved.
Addie: What you doing Nana?
Me: Cleaning out the coat closet.
M: Because we need to get rid of the things we don’t use and take them to the charity shop.
A: How do you know we don’t need it? What if there are treasures in there?
Me:(Thinking, that most of it was probably junk) Well, if there are treasures we will keep them somewhere better than the coat closet.
A: Well, maybe they are treasures to someone at the charity shop just not to us.
Me: That’s possible, as I put in a coat four sizes too small for Addie into the give away bag.
A: What’s that? As I pulled out a hat and gloves that used to fit her mother. Can I have It for my dress up box?
Me: It’s a hat and glove set from when your mom was a little girl. Does that make it treasure?
A: For me it IS treasure! My mommy used to wear it.
Me: Here you go. Don’t lose the gloves.
A: Rolling her eyes at me. Nana! If YOU kept them for SO long, I can keep them safe too!
I didn’t know if she was commenting on her mother’s age or my ability to hang on to things. but she got her treasure, and she reminded me that even hand me down clothes can be treasure to those who can’t afford anything else for their little girl. She’s smart that way.
I started throwing up again later that night and ended up back at the ER. Guess what, I had an allergic reaction to the dye they used to figure out what was wrong with my heart. Not something that is all that common. It bunged up my kidneys, caused my blood sugar to get totally out of control, and made me sick as a skunk eating dog. Holy cats, NO ONE should be that sick, ever. And to make it all just ducky, I got a terrible migraine to add to all the misery. I ended up staying as a hospital guest for three long miserable days before they let me leave again, It took that long for my kidney function to recover. The details are pretty disgusting, so that is all I want to say about that.
I went to the nearest hospital, The Methodist Hospital in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Its a pretty new place, kind of out in the country, small but up to date with all the new gadgets and such. Clean, quiet, quick to get in and out of the ER, but the best part of the entire place is the staff. From custodians who had to clean up after me more than once, to the nursing and technician staffs, to the doctors who actually take time to have a conversation and answer questions, to the hospital chaplain who came more than once just to talk to me about how I was coping, every last one was kind, compassionate, genuine in their concern and care for and of me. And they were that way to each and every single person for which they held responsibility. Amazing and wonderful for someone who was feeling grotty, and yes, terrified of dying. When I mentioned that to the Chaplain after sharing a prayer, he smiled kindly and said, “Dear Sister, I saw a long list of things you still have to accomplish. Trust in the Father, he only has great love for you.” Yes, I cried. It was a good thing. Healing tears in the face of deep fear.
In 2011, I faced death more than once from a horrific infection at the sight of open heart triple bypass surgery. It resulted in two more open heart surgeries within three months. That was followed by nearly a year of recovery and several more years of regaining mobility and strength. I think of myself as strong willed and determined, but I knew I was very close to dying and my doctor confirmed the fact that he didn’t think I would make it through that final surgery. I thought I was doing everything right and never expected to have another heart attack. Not when I felt so healthy. I think I was beyond shocked, and went from, “Why am I throwing up?” to “Am I going to die?” at the speed of sound.
I couldn’t sleep that first night. A young nurse was assigned to me. About three in the morning, she came into check on me and found me unable to express my fear. Patting my hand, she leaned over and hugged me. We chatted a bit, and when she left she said, “I wish I had a Nana like you. Mine died when I was little. I know you’ll be okay.” Yes, I cried. It was then that I made a decision.
I was going to tell every single person who came into my room how much I appreciated their help, their willingness to do a difficult job, no matter what it was, and that all they did for a patient made them a ministering angel and God’s hands here on earth. I did exactly that. I thanked everyone, I told them how valuable they were to me as part of a group who pulled together to help me survive and heal. I prayed with a few, I cried with a few, I laughed with more, and I was openly loving and sharing with everyone. Those that know me, know I don’t open up like that – ever. When I left, every single nurse and aide on the floor hugged me. Before I made it to the elevator, several others stopped us and said thank you and wished me well.
When I got home, I was still worn out (Never go to the hospital if you want to rest), but so grateful for the love I felt, and even more for the love of my family – especially my husband’s love. A few days later, a letter came for me from the hospital. It was a card, signed by all of the nurses who cared for me, thanking ME for allowing them to be part of the process of healing. Yes, I cried.
Once again, Thank You:
Taylor, Jason, Bobby, Sibel, Lauren, Terrinay, Mariah, Jennifer, Bernie, June, Ms. Dee, Miss Ruby Rose, Dr. Patel, Dr. Showkat, All the Surgery Team, Respiratory Team, Blood Team, ER Staff, Laboratory Staff, and X-ray Staff, and especially Brother Earl for reminding me that God never ignores those of his children who are in need of his attention.
You are indeed ministering angels and God’s helping hands on earth.
When I was a little kid, my family went to a parade. It was wonderful. All the men marching in step, the tanks rolling by, all the armor, jeeps, and first and foremost, the flag flying high over everything. I remember the sky was bright blue, making the colors of the flag stand out, each color brilliant and fresh. A band marched by, playing loud and proud. When they passed us, they were playing Grand Old Flag. It was all so exciting. My mother kept us kids under control, but the entire crowd was cheering, like they were welcoming heroes home. It was the Fourth of July and we were in Germany in the early 1960’s. Somewhere among those marching men was my father.
I was too young to recognize the importance of that post WWII and post Korea moment. I grew up in the military, I thought everyone’s dad marched in long lines and wore a uniform if they were American. It was normal. All the kids I knew, except for the few locals in our area, had dads who wore uniforms. The women and children in our house area waited for dads and husbands to come home from “the field” just like we did. And everywhere we went, from the school to the doctor’s building, there was a flag with the same bright colors flying above it. It was normal.
When my dad left the military, I was shocked to see buildings without the flag, people without uniforms of any kind, and complete disrespect for any sort of organization. It was hard to become a civilian, I missed the comfort of normal. I missed the feeling of security I had always had, even in the midst of the cold war that could send us on a bus or train with one bag for our whole family at a moment’s notice. I was never unsure, I was never alone, as long as there was a man in a uniform like my dad wore.
One day, I was at school very early for some reason. I was wandering around waiting for school to open when I saw the janitor come out of the building. He unfolded a flag, and pulled it up the flagpole. There, against the bright blue sky, the colors of my flag unfurled. As the wind caught it, the flag waved proudly above the land around it. In my mind I heard Grand Old Flag, as the janitor stepped back and saluted with all the dignity and honor of a soldier. Tears came to my eyes, because to me, he no longer wore a gray shirt and pants of a janitor, he wore a uniform of a soldier, and I knew as long as there were men who had served, men who knew the value of freedom and sacrifice, we would be safe.
Today life is very different in our country. But still, men and women serve to protect what is ours, and our freedom. No matter what politics you hold, no matter what lifestyle you profess, no matter where you live, the military protects you. The flag some spit on, burn, and trample still flies proudly from front porches, flag poles, and buildings. Be it against smoke from a riot, storms, or skies of bright blue, the flag still watches over our land and our people. The little girl in my past and the old woman I am today salute them. In memory of all those who have served to protect our homeland from the Revolutionary Founders through today, Thank You and God Bless America.