“SCRATCHING WHERE IT ITCHES”
I invite you to read a guest post from my friend, George L. Fisher, who is not only a great friend but also a great American! George is a Lt. Colonel in the Georgia Army National Guard and a veteran having served in Iraq. (My guess is that this piece may have been writing during one of his last deployments.)
It is people like George that love his country who we owe a debt of gratitude … Thank you George, from one very grateful American!
Most certainly what makes America special is her diverse culture of people,
her landmarks, and her “mountains majesty”.
To be sure, her history couldn’t be any more sacred had Moses written it on
For me it’s the sights, sounds, and smells, but It’s also everything I don’t
I know not where my patriotism flows over into my religious beliefs and vice
versa-God and Country–hand in glove.
It is the antithesis and cure to Homesickness. It is baseball, blue jeans,
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the 1970 fastback Mustang. It is
barbecue grills, fresh-cut grass, and every family gathered to enjoy a home
cooked meal. It’s a crying little baby on Santa’s’ lap, a stadium full of
football fans in Athens in October, a wild Saturday night with friends and
Church on Sunday. It is a grandfather and grandson watching a F16 scream
overhead in full afterburner.
It is all those who serve our community and our Nation–the Scouts, the
Legionnaires, the VFW, the Vietnam Vets- It’s the Navy’s “Aye Aye”, The
Army’s “Hooah”, the Marines ” Semper Fi” and the Air Forces “Wild Blue
It is every John Wayne movie ever made, its Red Skelton reciting the Pledge
of Allegience, and is life as illustrated by Norman Rockwell and sung by Ray
It is… our nations Flag draped over a casket.
It is the greatest place on this Earth, Disneyworld notwithstanding.
I hold these truths to be self-evident, manifested in my bone marrow and in
my American hometown, Macon, Ga.
Ginger & Bailey
♥You know how people talk all the time about the difference between men and women? Well I witnessed this truth with such clarity once that I just HAD to write about it! About twelve years ago our then new Golden Retriever puppies were just learning how to jump in the pool, fetch the floating pool toy and “retrieve” it to the side of the pool where we were eagerly waiting with a treat and a “good boy” or “good girl” congratulatory comment. I should also tell you that these puppies were litter mates… This is what happens when you go puppy shopping too soon after losing a special family pet!
Ginger was very bright and graceful….and a girl.
Bailey was not the sharpest crayon in the box, somewhat of a clod….and a boy.
We loved then both very much of course but they were as different as day and night! One afternoon as we watched them jump in to retrieve the toy in the pool… you could almost see the light bulb come on in Ginger’s head. As her brother jumped (like a little boy would “cannonball”) into the pool from the side, she carefully watched the trajectory of the toy, anticipating the possible final resting place of the object then quickly calculated the quickest most direct place to run around to, jumped in there, grabbed the toy in her mouth and made it half way back to the side before Bailey made it over to her! They would then join up together and share the duty of bring that toy home. Ginger knew all the while that it was her prize but was happy to share the spotlight with her brother. If that doesn’t ring some bells for the girls out there….then I’m not sure will.
Maybe I am over thinking this scenario too much (over thinking by definition I suppose) but it occurred to me that we humans are much like those litter mates. Often the guy will just barrel through life. Jumping in and out of the water (relationships, marriages, friendships, jobs, etc) without thinking about the possible outcome…. all the while flailing around until some female comes to his rescue then lets him take the credit for the work! Women (it would seem to me) are much more thoughtful before they jump…. looking at “where is this going” scenarios and then plotting the best course of action… or deciding not to jump at all. We women are also FAR too quick to give up the credit for success….but that is just how we are made I suppose!
I know that there are exceptions to this “rule” but by-in-large, in my life, this has been the case. I guess it just took two adorable Golden Retriever puppies to help me see it! Ginger has crossed the Rainbow Bridge and Bailey is in failing health and is not far behind his sweet sister. We love you Ginger and Bailey… thank you for all the years of devotion to our family. You are and will be missed but your memories live on in our hearts….
Deutsch: Golden Retriever Welpe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“Attitude”… No! “At-TWO-tude”
On living with a two-year-old…. “Gee Gee…. dolly, wankie, piggie!” she said this morning. “Okay Marissa, you carry them downstairs and I will carry you” I replied. “No Gee Gee!” as she layed on the floor in defiance. I stood at the top of the stairs waiting for Marissa to comply with my request. And I waited! And I waited! Then the threats started… “One….Two….Three” (to which she replied “four”. Then I said “Do you want to go to timeout?”…. That was the only thing that seemed to have any influence on her….. At-TWO-tude I tell you!
Funny how time heals the jagged memories of such things. About 29 years ago I had a two-year-old. My now 31 year old daughter has my two and a half year old granddaughter. I will admit that being a grandmother is very different than I thought it would be… in a good way. I have this amazing connection to her and now “get” the whole “GRAND”child thing that all my friends would talk about- make that RAVE about. I suppose the independence that she is showing which creates this whole “at-TWO-tude” should be celebrated. It means that she is thinking for herself and trying to make some of the little life decisions. I will celebrate that and remind myself that they grow up far too soon and the “at-TWO-tude” that she displays today will quickly get better as she learns to navigate this life… And I will be helping her to pack for college next week, or so it will seem!
This is a repost from a few months ago…. and a tribute to my sweet daughter who wrote this.
I am thankful for you Alissa… at Thanksgiving time and always!
I love you! Your Mom
Orginal Post: May 2011
For “Be My Guest Thursday” I have chosen a VERY special guest blogger! My daughter Alissa! About six months ago she wrote a beautiful letter describing her baby’s first experience with the fall leaves. Marissa was about 14 months old then. This poignant piece is insightful from a new mother’s perspective.
Since this week was Mother’s Day and if it weren’t for her….I wouldn’t Mom or a Grandmommy (“Gigi”)…. I thought it would be a great time to share this with all of you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I love you, Alissa…. ALWAYS have…and ALWAYS will! I am so proud of the Mom that you have become. You are the sweetest gift God every gave me… and now I think you know how that feels!
Life’s Leaves by Alissa Gray McQuaig
“My Sweetest Marissa,
Today I thought I’d take you outside for a few minutes to see that Fall had arrived. You took a few steps, looking around at what I could guess would be all the bright beautiful colors around you. Just as you like to have a cracker in each hand, you gently picked up two leaves amongst the hundreds lying around you. You continued to walk around, even took the hill in our driveway with ease. “Yeah you did it!” I said. Beaming with joy as if you had climbed Mt. Everest, still clutching the leaves. One brilliant red, the other was brown. They had cracked a little in your tiny hands. We said goodbye to Daddy, he was in his car at the street. You reached your hands out to him, as to show off those leaves. I wonder what you said to him? As I carried you back to the house I had to slowly pry away the brown leaf from your right hand, you started to chew on it. “Oh no Marissa, that’s nasty” I said. The red leaf was getting smaller from the pieces that had broken off. But you were clutching it, as if it was the only leaf that you would ever touch, smell or crumble in your hands. “Oh Marissa” I said, “there will be plenty of leaves for you to play with. This isn’t the only one baby”. Your eyes welled up with water, just as mine are right now. Your head was thrown back and your bottom lip pushed out as far as it would go. One pretty red leaf, broken into about 20 pieces, as I took the last crumble from your tiny hands, I nuzzled my face in your neck and told you that you didn’t have to hold on so tight to this leaf and it was okay baby. I love you my Pookie Boo!
Not 30 seconds in the house you had forgotten about the leaf which lay in our garage. You were off to play with your next toy. But it stuck with me, as much as I wanted to for you to understand that it was okay, that you could let go of it, I was also amazed at just how innocent you are. You don’t know how many leaves you will encounter in your life. One day those leaves may be a friend, a special toy, a dream of what you want to be, a pet, a boy in school. As much as I don’t want you to hold on too tight to the first one, I hope you will always embrace life’s leaves with the sweet innocence of a child and remember, if you hold too tight, it will crumble in your hands.
With eternal love,
Marissa with Alissa – September 2010
As my special gift to all of you who love a Vet or have loved ones serving our Country now or has previously served, I give you another “little cup of George”. Lt. Col George Fisher is my wonderful friend, fellow Maconite, and a fine example of what this country has to be proud of… those who bravely serve so that we may enjoy our freedom! Almost two years ago George’s great friend came home unexpectedly from Iraq. This is the story of how they “delivered the package” and surprised a very happy wife and family! Visit George’s blog: http://www.fisherchronicles.blogspot.com/and check back as he is a regular contributor to my blog as a part of my “Be My Guest Thursday!”. Thank you George for this story and for your service to our beloved USA!
The story of his own homecoming can be found here on my blog at http://dsgnmomonline.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/daddys-home-by-george-l-fisher/.
Read, cry, laugh and enjoy my talented friend’s words!
A Soldier Comes Home
By George L. Fisher
Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 6:56pm
This whole thing started about two months ago in November-Major Mike “Lip
Dawg” Lipper, deployed soldier of the 48th Brigade, was planning the most
classified and potentially hazardous mission in his career.
Mike sent an email to a scant few individuals his warning order: to surprise his wife
Meg and the tater tots, Klein and Addison, on his early arrival home from
Afghanistan. Lip Dawg was to be sent home with the “Torch
Party”, the very first of the first in the unit that would help receive the
48th when they returned. It was payback time!
Top Secret, he said. Double secret probation. This was to be in retaliation
for the surprise visit she made back in May on a media visit to Camp
Atterbury while Mike was training for deployment, the shock of that surprise took 10
years off his life. He said so, and had you seen the look on his face, you
would have known this to be true.
A week or so after Mike’s warning order, the list of the “Torch
Party” was published–Mike wasn’t listed-I forwarded the email to him, which
not only ruined his day, but probably his entire month.
A little Background.
When I arrived in Iraq in 2005, it was dark, windy, hot, dusty, and I was
helpless,heartbroken and homesick. Out of the darkness roared Then Captain
Mike Lipper, hellbent for leather on a four-wheeled gator. He grabbed me, my
duffel bags, and took me to my quarters, pointed to the latrine, tucked me in
and said “I’ll come get you in the morning”….then roared back out into the
Iraq night to attend to other thankless duties as the Headquarters
In Short, I owed Mike Lipper. I love the guy. He is funny and even sold me
his mid-life crisis car, which is now my mid-life crisis car. If he needed
anything, I vowed, I would do my best to make it happen.
But here I was sending him an email that says he is NOT coming back early.
As things happen, only in the last two weeks did the Phoenix arise from the
ashes. There was a conference to be held at Ft Campbell, KY in late January
and it just so happened that Mike’s bosses in country assigned him to go,
and then let his R/R leave kick in as well!!! The surprise attack was BACK
The clandestine emails start back: there was a deception plan to fly Meg to
Kentucky “on business” that Ruth Sykes would be the main effort for-on the
contingency Mike had to report there first-then there was another course of
action where Mike would fly from Kentucky to Atlanta and one of us would pick
him up, hopefully in time to watch daughter Addisons last basketball game of
Plans were discussed, and “what if’d” to ensure a contingency and maximum
flexibility-and then the emails were silent for several days. We thought the
worst. Not another cancellation, we feared until the following message was
received immediately prior to Mikes going off the net for good:
“landing in ATL tomorrow – SUN morning at 0915.”
Little did we know he was in Kuwait already and on a borrowed computer.
Our “close circle of trust”, as Mike referred to us, would be left to solve
the rest of the math problem-The Rosses and Lewis’ would create the necessary
diversion at Church and the ensuing lunch on Sunday whilst I would, naturally
being a logistics guy, “secure the package”.
After supper, then to bed. 0300 hours, wide awake. I pace to and fro, to and
fro, to the bathroom, then to and fro some more-then downstairs to watch some
television, read the paper online, make coffee, and wait until Wifey awakes,
because she isn’t about to miss this.
It’s now 0330…..0335…..0345…..after an eternity, a pot of coffee and
finishing up a John Wayne movie, we are on the road at 0730. Arrive at 0830.
Park. Walk to North terminal. Go potty for the 8th time since 0300. Buy wifey
a froo froo coffee and find a seat. It’s on or about 0900-we see a crowd of
soldiers by baggage claim and go investigate just in case the “package”
arrived early. He hasn’t. We go back to our seats, strategically located that
no one gets past us without us seeing them.
Cricket. Cricket. The USO folks, ever-present and unsung heroes all, clap
each time a service person ascends from the escalator. Each time we look for
the package. Alas, it is other packages, all of them dear to our hearts, but
destined for other recipients.
It’s after 0915. I’m bug-eyed. Wifey said “he said it was going to take about
an hour”–and having been thru the same process I know this-yet it doesn’t
help my angst. I send a text message to the “attack team” that we are in
position and will apprise of updates.
0920…..0930. USO personnel clap. We look. Nada. Lather, rinse and repeat.
0945, 0955, 1005-OK WHERE IN GODS NAME CAN HE BE??? Surely he snuck by us and
is either in north or south terminal baggage claim and is perhaps on the
smelly GROOME shuttle headed for Macon-and I’m going to get a call from him
saying “I’m here, please come get me and take me to my family”, to which I’m
going to have to say “sure thing Lippy I will be there in an hour, by which
time he could crawl on his hands and knees to the Church and launched his
surprise offensive all by himself.
“Are you sure?” Is what Wifey said after each of my comments-
“Sugar, he has to come up the escalator from customs, to baggage claim,
“Are you sure?” She asks. My hair, what’s left of it, was coming out in
Finally maintaining my composure and dealing with the facts, we positioned
ourselves directly behind the USO kiosk, and clapped for the soldiers when
they came up the escalator-looking from our view you would see the tip of the
head first and then as the escalator kept going slowly the rest of the
persons body would come into view-and there were as many civilians coming up
that escalator as there we’re Soldiers.
One soldier came up whose wife and little baby went running over to and they
both embraced. It would have been a touching moment had half of the ladies
butt crack had not been exposed. It was a butt crack, in all honesty, that
shouldn’t ever see the light of day. Ever. Ahem.
There was another soldier whose young girlfriend came running up to and like
out of a movie, they embraced. Everyone clapped. They remained embraced. It
appeared the soldier must have been a ENT medical professional-i mention this
only because he seemed to be giving her tonsils quite the inspection. Ahem.
The heads appear a bit more frequent now. None of which are Lippy Dawg Heads.
I could pick his noggin out of times square on New Years Eve I’m convinced, I
had seen it enough-actually I had seen lots of Mike Lipper, in fact every bit
of him, but that’s another story for another day, and best told by Mike
Another text SITREP (situation report) to the team-they are on pins and
needles-i am too. In fact one couldn’t drive a ten penny nail up my behind
with a sledgehammer.
It doesn’t appear even if he shows up in the next minute that we can make it
back to Macon and the church before Sunday Services are over.
The escalator ascends. The tip of a head. The flat top haircut and baby
bottom smooth sidewalls of one Major Mike Lipper are seen. “There he is” I
tell Wifey, and we move out to greet him–finally.
Well, not so fast. The USO folks, bless their hearts, go about looking at
each soldier in the eyes and asking them if they can help them in any
fashion–Mike sees this guy before he sees me. The USO representative asks
him if there’s anything he can do for Mike, and before he can reply I say “
NO SIR-WE GOT HIM-He’s going with us!”
He still didn’t know it was me-i wasn’t in uniform nor had he gotten my last
email telling him we would pick him up-he was now bug-eyed.
Times like this bring on the snot bubbles. It just happens.
Half laughing, half crying, he gave us a hug. This man who just a moment
before looked so weary and exhausted, was now wearing a smile that a
mortician couldn’t remove. Our demonstration was almost as good as the butt
crack lady and the tonsillectomy, even if “G” rated.
The PACKAGE was secure. The Eagle had landed.
Swiftly to baggage claim while I texted the team that we had Mike.
in no time we were at the car and southbound-now for the real issue-the
ATTACK had to commence, but where? Church? The restaurant? Back at la casa de
Lippy? I was driving 85 mph and had my blackberry in my hand trying to figure
out our next phase–it looked as if the restaurant would be the place-i sent
a quick text to the newspaper photographer and he said he would notify the
reporter. OK, our ETA about 1215 hrs I guessed. About five minutes later
Sharell called and said we have it set up here for the church–the rest of the team had been
doing an excellent job of contingency planning and although we changed the
plan it, like the Doolittle Raid, was ON! My only job was to get the package
there in one piece, no small feat when you drive like you were taught how by
a one-eyed man, which I was. Mike called his Mom and told her he was
home-she knew of the plan but only since Christmas.
Sharell and the team had it arranged and told us where to show up at the
Church-Ruth Sykes was able to teach her Sunday School class at her Church and
she too would watch this defining moment unfold for Mike and his family.
Back in Macon. The exit. Another call. All systems GO, I repeat All systems
GO! I told Wifey to prepare the cabin for landing.
We got to the church, parked right along the curb, and got out of the car. As
Wifey says, “Mike was vibrating he was so excited.”
Sharell and Dianne had worked it out so that Meg and the kids were sitting in
the main foyer of the Church with their backs to Mike-
Mike, followed by the rest of us, moved in. Meg and the kids were on the
bench, unaware. Dianne and her husband and some others had them posing for a
photograph. Little did they know what was about to happen.
Mike came up quietly from behind while they were all “cheezing” for the photo
and “cheezed” right along with them-they STILL hadn’t seen him! In another
second, Mike leans around, and kisses Meg on the cheek. She STILL is in the
“say cheese” mode for the photo, as are the kids-The “photographers” quite
naturally forcing them to maintain the pose –a perfect example of a
In another instant, Meg casually looks over her shoulder to see who gave her
the peck, and then……..
A scream. Then the sound of kids jumping on Dad, pictures being taken by the
hundred, kleenex being ripped from purses, laughter, tears, tears, and more
tears. The attack sprung right there in the Lipper’s Church and in their hometown.
The greatest operation Major Lipper ever planned. And one thousand percent
successful with many casualties, all of whom wear smiles on this Sunday
afternoon that a mortician couldn’t remove.
A soldier, friend, dad, and husband comes home. One down, a couple thousand
more to go until all the 48th is back.
Welcome Home Lippy. We missed you. And thanks again for looking out for me
that night in Iraq.