Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Remembering the lessons of Mount St. Helens

This past summer, my dear husband took me on a 7500 mile drive across the country. Palo Duro Canyon is beautiful. And the volcano in New Mexico revealed the hidden treasures of migrating ladybugs and greener hills than even their own postcards as the area has had lots of summer rain like we did.

The Mount Saint Helens visitors centers help understand what happened there and the first one you come upon is built and funded by the paper company. It is the best, in my opinion, and its free. The paper company has been busy harvesting and replanting, and their hills of trees looked photoshopped because they are all about the same height and spaced just so. The two parks service centers go for the more "natural" look, and charge you eight bucks a head to view and attend a movie that ignores the people that died here. Nor does it barely acknowledge the ones who survived here.

One amazing lesson was how the trees became projectiles to take out more trees. The blast at an angle snapped nine foot in diameter trees off like matchsticks and hurled them into other trees creating a flood of trees and ash and mud that clogged the rivers and created a new lake.

When I read a blog the other day about the pain a wife was suffering when her husband lost his arm in Iraq, I was reminded of those trees. And how those trees did not have a choice. They became part of the weapons used to take out more. When a couple or a family experiences the horror of an act of terrorism that rips into the body and mind of a warrior, the wife and family often are called on to help and watch their loved one suffer numerous surgeries, nightmares, painful withdrawal from medications, and physical rehabilitation, and that wife or family has a choice to be strong, and lean on God for that strength and patience only He can give, or allow the murdering cowards who laid that IED rip into their family.

Dear Heavenly Father, Please be with those wives and families dealing with wounded warriors. Help them to be strong as they stand in the gap while their warrior heals from the physical and mental wounds. Help them know what to say to nosy reporters, and neighbors. Help us be part of the solution, not more of a burden. Please protect our soldiers in harms way. Please help them unearth the buried bombs before they maim or injure anyone else. Your Will be done. In Jesus name. Amen.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

new normal

For the last twenty years, I have tried to take pictures of the boys on their first day of school. Our firstborn married and moved away, and the "baby" also graduated from high school and fled the nest to his own apartment five mile west. Middle son has been my only one left to take pictures of, and as he started his senior year of college, I took the first day of classes picture, the first day in full uniform picture, the first day of being twenty-one birthday picture, and today, the first day in "ACUs" as their Army ROTC uniform changed from the green jungle camo (BDUs) to the diggie desert camo with tan suade boots. ACU means Army Combat Uniform. BDU means Battle Dress Uniform. My son throws these capital letters around like whole words, so I had to ask him to slow down and explain. My oldest did ROTC in college, too, but as his college was "away" down south at A&M, and they were not allowed off campus in uniform, I rarely saw him in full regalia unless we attended a game or Aggie function. And firstborn's Air Force uniform now is different from middle son's diggies. Some day I'll be brave and ask about all the noncom and commissioned and reserved and the terms they throw about for rank. Maybe my sister-in-law with a son in the Army, another in the Air Force Reserves, and a son in the Navy can give a seminar to bring this old mom up to speed.

I put all the first day of school pictures in a row down the front hall. Ran out of room, actually. Maybe this new picture of middle son in his diggies will go under the picture of him as a toddler watching big brother head to kindergarten. What a contrast. And it seems like yesterday. And I see the handwriting on the wall---next May, just eight months from now, middle son will put on his "class A" uniform and the next will be truly empty. And my mission accomplished? Nah, mom is a verb. Once a mom...always a mom. It sure is fun being a grannie, too !