Archive for the ‘Mother’s Day’ Tag

Navy Wife…Toughest Job in the Navy!   Leave a comment

  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!  

USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63)

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:

http://spousebuzz.com/blog/2013/06/navy-wife-with-a-happy-life.html

http://www.navywifediary.com/

http://mycrazylifeasanavywife.blogspot.com/

http://withlovedarlene.blogspot.com/

http://lifeofatravelingnavywife.blogspot.com/

http://www.dyanwittphotography.com/supporting-our-troops/

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It’s been 25 years today….Mom, I still miss you!   9 comments

 

Admittedly my blog has been sorely neglected lately! There are many reasons for this but only one good reason to resume writing. This would be that perhaps I could help just one person get through a tough time by reading my words…then it has served it’s purpose!

It has now been 28 years since my Mom passed away… It is so hard to believe that it could actually have been that many years since that Saturday in 1986. Here is my original  blog post that was dated May 2011. I feel for anyone who has experienced a similar loss or is going through it right now. The Sunday after my Mother’s funeral was Mother’s Day and continues to be a difficult time every year. I wish I could tell you the pain subsides. You just learn to lean on the Lord a little more each year…

 

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning. Perfect really. The weather was glorious. Clear and crisp with birds chirping and butterflies flitting around. The sound of grass being mowed filled the distance. Flowers bloomed and lawn sprinklers hissed. May is such a pretty month in Tennessee. Then the phone rang. I didn’t want to answer it. I knew who it was. As I answered it, the person on the other end said in a very upbeat tone “I just wanted you to know that Mrs. Todd just left us”. I said “Thank you for calling”.

Mom was 63 and I was 30. She was gone too early and I wondered what I would do without my Mother! I even asked her about 2 weeks before she left. It was a selfish thing for me to say to my dying parent. She could not have known the impact that her words would have on me and do to this very day…..

Through my tears my question to her was “Mom, what am I suppose to do without my Mother for the rest of my life? I’m thirty years old!”  She replied in a still small voice but with strength unimaginable “I don’t know darling, but I know the Lord will help you through it”……And He has! Unbelievable that it has been 25 years on May 3rd. Unbelievable that my daughter was only 5 years old then and a pre-schooler. She is now a grown woman and a Mommy herself. Unbelievable that somehow, someway I have been able to navigate the past 25 years “without” her! She was after all  my best friend and my Mother. By far the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my life was watching the slow deterioration of her body as Ovarian Cancer stole her from us and the eventual loss of her everyday presence in my life. But even so….her spirit lives on in me. It was about 8 months later when I found myself at a cross-roads regarding my decision to return to college or not. I was 31 by then and a single Mom of a beautiful 5-year-old daughter… and in my deepest time of need I cried out to my Mom. I had made a commitment to return to College to finish the degree I had started 12 years prior! I was panic-stricken as I thought about what was ahead of me…. I said out loud (as if she could hear me) “Mother, what HAVE I gotten myself into????”. That’s when it happened. A warm peaceful feeling blanketed my body from head to toe, a comfort like I know I had when she covered me as a child in my crib… and her “voice” came into my head saying “You can do anything you put your mind to!” I don’t know if it was her spirit speaking to me or just my recollection of the MILLION times that she had said that to me in my lifetime, either way it was all I needed to push me through that moment of doubt. I will quickly tell you that I took those eternal words of advice from my Momma and proceeded to excel beyond my own belief. I finished 4 years of college in 2 and 1/2 years, graduating Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA in my major course of study at age 33 as a single mother! I’m not boasting, I’m just saying that if you think we as Moms don’t have an everlasting effect on our children….even after we are “gone”…think again! Mother’s Day is a tough day for me… and next Sunday represents 26 such holidays without her. I still miss her so…

I dedicate my blog to my Mother and all that she has meant to me during her life and everyday for the past 25 years! I thank her for all the inspiration that she brought to my life and appreciate the way that she prepared me to be the best Mom and Grandmother (“Gigi”) that I could possibly be. After all it isn’t so much what we TELL our children to do…as it is what we SHOW them. This is written by a grateful daughter…. I love you Mom.

A few years ago someone sent me this poem in an email:

This is a truly BEAUTIFUL piece. Please
read this at a slow pace, digesting every word and in
leisure…do not hurry….this is a treasure…
For those lucky to still be blessed with your Mom,
this is beautiful. For those of us who aren’t, this is
even more beautiful. For those who are moms, you’ll love this.

MOTHER

The young mother set her foot on the path of life. “Is
this the long way?” she asked. And the guide said:  “Yes, and the way is hard.
And you will be old before you reach the end of it.. But
the end  will be better than the beginning.”

But the young mother was happy, and she would not
believe that anything could be better than these years. So she
played with her children, and gathered flowers for
them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams; and
the sun shone on them, and the young Mother cried,
“Nothing will ever be lovelier than this.”

Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was
dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother
drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said,
“Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come.”

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and
the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary.
But at all times she said to the children,” A little  patience and we are there.”
So the children climbed, and when they reached the top
they said, “Mother, we would not have done it without you.”

And the mother, when she lay down at night looked up
at the stars and said, “This is a better day than the last, for my
children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage.
Today, I’ve given them strength.”

And the next day came strange clouds which darkened
the earth, clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped
and stumbled, and the mother said: “Look up. Lift your eyes to the light.
” And the children looked and saw above the clouds
an everlasting glory, and it guided them beyond the
darkness. And that night the Mother said,
“This is the best day of all, for
I have shown my children God.”

And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and
the years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent.
But her children were tall and strong, and walked with
courage.  And when the way was rough, they lifted her,
for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill,
and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And
mother said, “I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end
is better than the beginning, for my children can
walk alone, and their children after them.”

And the children said, “You will always walk with us,
Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.”
And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates
closed after her.  And they said: “We cannot see her
but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory.  She is a living presence…….”

Your Mother is always with you…. She’s the whisper
of the leaves as you walk down the street; she’s the smell of bleach
in your freshly laundered socks; she’s the cool hand
on your brow when you’re not well. Your Mother lives
inside your laughter. And she’s crystallized in every tear drop.
She’s the place you came from, your first home; and
she’s the map you follow with every step you take. She’s your first love
and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can
separate you.

                                  Not time, not space… not even death!

                                  

                    My beloved Mom….Marjorie Holderfield Todd

                        November 21, 1921 – May 3, 1986

Special Guest Post: Life’s Leaves by Alissa Gray McQuaig   2 comments

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,
Mommy”

Marissa with Alissa