In a previous life, I was a Naval Officer’s wife….and all that comes with that. I was in my early 20’s the first time I experienced this thing they call deployment. Now I was no “Mama’s or Daddy’s girl”. Far from it. I had been involved in a scouting program from age 15 in national leadership which took me from my Georgia home to locations all over the US. So by age 19, when I met this charming and charismatic Navel Officer 8 years my senior, I was smitten! He was like no man I had ever met (and remains the holder of that title to this day). We met actually during a state-wide conference that I was running where he was there representing the US Navy in his job as a recruiter. What can I say about him… Funny… Sweet…and very unlike the “good ‘ol boys” that I was typically around in Macon. GA. So within 3 months of meeting and beginning to date, we were engaged. I know that seems quick! Realize that it was 1975 and the world spun a bit slower back then. Or so I’d like to think. Three months later we were married on a HOT Georgia August day with not a cloud in the sky. There I was in my pretty white puffy wedding dress, you probably know the style if you lived during that era! And there was my groom… in his white “Mess Dress” Naval Officer’s uniform with his gold Navy wings, all his “dangle metals” ,with his sword at his side and those Paul Newman blue eyes. Who would not have swooned?
As we made our way in life we continued to live another 2 years or so in Georgia and then one day, as it is inevitable, the detailer called! That is the person who is in charge of determining your destiny as I quickly learned. They assigned him to report to an air carrier for what they call a disassociated tour of duty. Basically as a P3 aviator, with the rank of LCDR, there is no place for you in a squadron. So they place you on a carrier…. Yeah a BIG ship that is gone more than it’s home! In the process of preparing for his tour of duty on CV 63 USS Kitty Hawk, there were interim schools to attend to prepare him for his work and ship life. We were headed to San Diego but not before a 3 month intermediate stop in Virginia Beach for training. Life is an adventure in the Navy. My husband went to Virginia a few weeks before me and I will never forget the look on my sweet dearly departed Mother’s face as she watched me pack my 1976 Audi Fox to the brim with a microwave, linens, all the household items I could muster, my clothes, his clothes and 2 blonde cocker spaniels. It was a 12 hour drive and I was doing it all by myself. She thought I was CRAZY! It was definitely the longest journey I had ever made by myself but as I would come to find out as a Navy wife…by no means my last! Three months came and went very fast. He was to meet the ship on deployment in progress right after Christmas. We drove cross-country to California and left the car with his best friend for the duration of the cruise. Then it was time to say goodbye. If you are a service wife you know how this goes…the sadness is just too much so you typically pick a fight the day before thus making the departure actually a relief! Well you may not actually do that by design, but more times than not, it works out that way. It’s a form of survival I suppose. I headed back to Georgia where I lived for about 5 months until it became time to pack up and move…. to San Diego. You know how most couples who are moving to a new city go on a home searching trip together and determine where they collectively would like to live? Well, no can do in the Navy. I flew to San Diego where I stayed with Navy friends of my husband’s whom I had never met and proceeded to pick out our new place. A few days later it was done. New condo, new address, new friends and new life. Then the day arrived. Now I was raised in the South and not on the ocean so I had never witnessed a Navy ship come home from deployment. I hope I can do it justice and describe the scene in case you haven’t ever experienced it yourself either.
Cool, crisp, salty sea air. San Diego’s majestic views. Excitement that you can feel in the air. Coming over the Coronado Bay Bridge that early morning in May with my loved ones that had joined me for his arrival… so early that ship was not in sight yet! Good …. we had time to get to the pier and post our signs and wait…. and wait… and wait…with about 5,000 other family members! As the carrier came in sight the crowd became joyous with excitement. Jubilant anticipation! Remembering that my wait had been about half as long as most of the wives with my husband’s joining the cruise in progress. I marveled at the fortitude that it takes to endure 10+ months without your partner. It is something most civilians will never have to experience and may not comprehend. There were newborn babies whose lives had begun since their dads left many months previous. There were reunions of the sweetest kind just getting ready to unfold with Daddies meeting their babies for the very first time! Get out the kleenex! As the ship drew nearer…. the faint outline of sailors on the deck came into focus. They were positioned all around the rail of the flight deck at parade rest… it was a sight to behold. These men (in those days only men on the ship) were so glad to be coming home after so many months of service. There were officers and enlisted men alike. The one thing that tied them all together was that ship, that deployment and that homecoming! It takes literally HOURS for a ship of this magnitude to dock. Then the moment arrives… the first men disembark. You’d think the Captain of the ship might be first off…. Not so. There is a special line for “First Time Dads” and the men who had not had the pleasure of holding their precious little ones are the first off…. then the tears start to fall! There are over 5,000 men in ship’s company. You can imagine the sea of happy reunions going on around you as each sailor finds his special ones that have been waiting on his arrival! By the time my husband disembarked and got to me I had cried off all the makeup that I put on that morning. That was a wonderful feeling to have him back home! Indescribable really. A feeling that is tough to explain but something I can remember vividly even 35 + years later!
During subsequent deployments I learned these truths: Your toilet only backs up when the husband is gone. The car is fine until the ship pulls out at which time there is something so wrong with it that they send a mechanic to Sweden to learn how to repair it! Meanwhile it stays in the shop for 6 months gathering dust! Washing machine repairs go up exponentially during deployment. Maytag loves that! Basically if it has moving parts it will either break or disintegrate while the husband is on deployment. This is Murphy’s law at it’s best! Being a Navy Wife was both frustrating and rewarding. This is why I say “Navy Wife….Toughest Job in the Navy”! My hat is off to all of you ladies who are out there standing that watch! I say press on and know that this Ex-Navy wife respects and applauds you!
Photo by https://www.navypictures.net/products/CV_63_USS_Kitty_Hawk_Photograph_2-2395-63.html
Info on the USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) Contribution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Kitty_Hawk_(CV-63)
Other Navy Wife related blogs to visit:
Two years have come and gone since I first posted this article. I have a deep feeling of sadness today on this anniversary and wish to honor the memory of those who died on that tragic September morning now 12 years ago. God will find a way to use each life lost as a testimony. Long live their memories and legacies.
There is so little left unsaid regarding the tragic events of 9-11-01… But I feel that my heart still weeps and wants to be heard. As I watch this video that is a daughter’s tribute to her father lost on that day, I cry for her and for the times of her life that he missed. It is touching and sweet. I too lost my father this year and can certainly identify with a daughter’s pain and the immense loss (https://dsgnmomonline.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/holding-daddys-hand-forever/). But this loss was so diverse… so widespread. It was personal for so many yet so public. The morning of September 11. 2001 I lived in Northern California and woke abruptly as if someone was shaking me…but I was alone. My mind said “turn on the TV!” Almost like a scream in my head. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I watched as the second tower imploded. It was as if I was watching a movie instead of a live feed on the morning news! I was paralyzed with grief… for the people involved, for our brave firefighters and police and really for our country. Was this deliberate? What was next? Who would be the next target? I quickly called my daughter who was in college in San Diego. Admittedly she let the phone ring many times before she answered it…. she knew it was just “Mother”…. what now Mom? She said I “always” called. That morning was different. I told her quickly “turn on the news”…. She was a horrified as I was to see what was unfolding. In retrospect… I’m sure there are many 20 year olds that wish their parents could have called them that morning! We share a deep bond regarding the events of that day and talk about how it changed us.
I walked around in a daze for days. Unable to put the events into anything that I could get my head around. So senseless. So tragic. I was left with a feeling of helplessness like I am sure so many fellow Americans were. And ten years later I really am not sure I have yet come to grips with the enormity of it all. I still cry when I see the images and the touching tributes. Just last night I watched the movie “Remember Me” and wept. Please take time to watch this movie… then go and hug your kids and tell them you love them! We have today…and tomorrow is not promised. If the events of September 11, 2001 taught us anything… it taught us that one fact!
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 https://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.
My new friend who is a blogger, husband and 31-year-old father, T.J. Brown, has written a post recently entitled “The Sad Story of My Creation” http://thomasjohnbrown.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/the-sad-story-of-my-creation/. I was heartbroken for him as he told of his parents decision to have him and then tell him (his whole life) that he was a “mistake”! I was so appalled by this that I was compelled to comment on his post and that has resulted in the development of a sincere friendship. My respect for him is enormous as he works through the pain that this has caused him to this day. He blogs to air his feelings and “get it out”. This is a brave journey that T.J. has accepted and I am very thankful that our paths have crossed. His very supportive wife, Amber, comments on his every post and I can tell that there is much love and support for him through their relationship.
We as parents have an IMMENSE effect on our children and the kind of adults they will be! Words are weapons. Words are powerful especially being uttered by one’s own parent. The harsh words of “you were a mistake” can only serve to debilitate a child from developing in any sort of normal way! Why would a parent want that for their child? As I said in my response to him (in part): “I am so appalled that parents could describe a child’s creation as a “mistake”. Honestly adults need to own up to their actions and stop the blame game… it was not the car load of people (regardless of race) or the missed birth control which is at fault here. The truth is, it seems, that your parents chose to have “divorce sex” as you call it and created another precious human being. I believe that God allows the people that are suppose to be born to be conceived and are allowed to live. Each life has meaning and teaches us lessons as parents. Your attitude is commendable. Please keep believing that you are special and NOT a mistake. You have the touched my life with this post and that is no mistake!”
I went on to tell him about someone who I worked for many years ago. She was told by her parents that she should have been aborted! Just knowing that her parents wished that she had never been born affected her daily existence and made her a very bitter and angry individual. It seemed to me that she was always looking to hurt others the way she was hurt. I may not be a Psychologist but I am smart enough to know that what we say to our children is carried throughout our lives. Unless we go through the long and arduous process of “reprogramming those tapes” in our minds… that is what plays over and over…. and over!
My story is a different from T.J’s as daylight is from darkness! My parents were married 13 years before my birth. My oldest brother was born about 13 months into their marriage and then there were 11 years of unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant with a second child. Eleven long year of being told that she was barren and may never have another due to complications that arose during the difficult birth of my brother. Imagine the happiness that they felt as they were finally able to tell their 12-year-old son that he was FINALLY going to be a big brother! That May my mother attended a local festival featuring a beautiful Queen and her court riding the “Strawberry Festival” float (a very big event in 1955!). Someone on that float had the name “Janiece”, I assumed it was the Queen but have never been able to confirm. I was told that my mother said “Oh if I have a girl I’m going to name her “Janiece”. I never met the person for whom I was named but always wondered if I could someday tell her that story. I was born about 4 months later… I was 3 weeks early and my parents had to travel from a rural Tennessee county about 90 miles away from Memphis to get to the hospital. Because of her complications she had a special doctor. They made it in time… No two parents were ever more proud to welcome their new baby girl… after over a decade of waiting.
When I was 18 months old their Christian strength was tested. I became very ill and was admitted to the hospital. The doctors told them to prepare for the worse. They said they had done all they could and that it was in the Lord’s hands. My mother used to tell me of how they kneeled at the foot of my hospital crib and prayed that God would spare my life if it was “His will”.
I was one sick little girl but the antibiotics and fluids that they administered had given me the strength to pull out of the sickness. Iwas a fighter. Never gave up. My parents, both devout Christians, dedicated my life to the Lord then and there. I have scars in my forehead and my ankle that remind me of this story. As a huge happy surprise they welcomed another addition about a year later… my little brother! I have what I like to call a “brother sandwich”! 😉
MY BROTHER SANDWICH
(Left – Johnny, my oldest brother, me and my “baby” brother David – right)
Both my parents are no longer living but I can still hear my mother’s voice as she would recount how eternally grateful they both were that the Lord had spared my life. I always felt VERY special knowing that my parents desperately wanted me and then almost lost me…and then gratefully dedicated my life. They were wonderful examples of what a parent should be. I thank God daily that I had them in my life as shinning examples. And of course I miss them both terribly… Mom for 25 years and Dad only this year gone. You can read my memorial tribute to them here: https://dsgnmomonline.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/its-been-25-years-today-mom-i-still-miss-you/ and https://dsgnmomonline.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/holding-daddys-hand-forever/.
It occurred to me that the story of my creation could not be further from that of T.J. We had very different welcoming committees. Mine was very much like a ticker tape parade and his was vastly different. Yet be both ended up blogging and sharing. We ended up having our paths cross because of these differences. We ended up as friends. Thank you T.J. for your inspiration. I wish you all the best on your journey.
Photo credit: http://iamachild.wordpress.com/category/wilbur-lawrence/
From the minute we are born, our Daddys hold our hands. Mine did. My father passed away about a month ago. He had been very ill for quite a long while. His death was really was not a surprise and we had not had much face time in the past few years… living about 500 miles apart. I’ve had a question on my mind since the day that he took up residence in his heavenly home… “Can a little girl learn to let go of her daddy’s hand?” Even if she’s not so “little” anymore?
My father was a really an amazing example of what a “Daddy” looks like. He was in his 30s when I was born…about 13 years into my parents marriage. By all accounts, I was the “apple of his eye” and the only daughter… you know…”Daddy’s girl”! I have wonderful memories of this man but most of them are about turning points. Turning points in my life when a girl can only hope and pray that she has a daddy to go to. A Daddy to lean on. A Daddy to confide in. You know…someone to hold your hand.
When can a man who fathers a baby be considered a “daddy? My short answer is…. when he is committed to holding his daughter’s hand. At birth, at pre-school, at middle-school, at high school, at graduation, at your wedding day and ultimately in the autumn of his life. By many people’s standards my Daddy was a successful man….self-made…. and an absolute joy to be around (how many people can say that?) but my definition of successful is somewhat different from most. I ask “Was his life spent emulating good things to his children? Was he there in the times of tough decisions to counsel and help us through? Did he hold my hand every time I needed my Daddy? Resounding “YES HE DID”. Thank you Daddy for being the best father a girl could have ever dreamed of having. I know you will be holding my hand still today, tomorrow and forever!
I found some amazing pictures that describe he closeness of father and daughter…without any words. I am filled with thankfulness for the contribution.
Little girl and her father were crossing a bridge. The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter, "Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don't fall into the river." The little girl said, "No, Dad. You hold my hand." "What's the difference?" Asked the puzzled father. "There's a big difference," replied the little girl. "If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go."
In loving memory of John Todd- My Daddy. June 6, 1923- January 23, 2011