I want to write about my husband. He graduated from West Point in 1962. It was shortly after that there was war in Viet Nam. I won’t comment on that war except to talk about my husband.
He went there for the first time about 1967. At that time he was a Captain and was assigned to be a company commander. To this day he talks little about his time there other than the moments that were amusing in some way or good stories to tell. He has never talked about the other side. Thankfully he did not have PTSD although I’m sure there were times when all that he experienced he felt deeply. He did come home with malaria and still has attacks of it to this day.
He has never talked with his children or grandchildren about those days. As we prepare to move things have been pulled out of closets and they discovered that their father has 5 bronze stars for valor. To read the commendations fills me with pride and love.
When he returned from his first posting I received a letter from the men in his company sending us money they collected for us to go out to dinner. The letter said that he was the reason they were still alive and that he was the best company commander they had ever seen. He deserved that and it meant more than any other accolade.
He did have to go back for a second time and worked with the The Montagnard people who are the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He loved these people and brought home some of the weaving the women did. This is a bracelet much like the one I have.
They were given as a symbol of respect and friendship. He was made a member of the group he worked with which required him to drink their version of an alcoholic beverage which he said he barely got down. He respected them greatly.
He has always followed the traits learned at West Point of Duty, Honor, Country and always will. He expects people to behave with integrity and be truthful. The many times he is disappointed he accepts the ways of the world and moves on.
I am proud of his life and he will continue following those things he learned at West Point for the rest of his life.
Thinking back over my almost 80 years there are so many memories of those who were a part of it. Lots of them are gone but they live on in my mind. It is funny the ones you remember and the ones you know must have been there but have no defining moment to think about.
I do remember some of my teachers particularly from High School and College. The ones I remember the most were the ones who were real characters. That is probably why they stuck in my mind. I remember a Latin teacher whose looks and demeanor were perfect for the part. She was petite, wore dark rimmed glasses, had grey hair and was really tough on us.
Another was a history teacher who made me love history. He gave us a assignment that was 100 questions. It was not something you spent time writing but researching. The questions were obscure and finding out the answers was difficult. You got a grade depending on how many you got right. One of the questions was “What is this ***** ? Yes, it was just 5 asterisks. It was a pseudonym for a writer whose name is lost to memory but I got it! His whole point was you could find anything if you knew how to research.
A college professor was named (by us) “paperback Bednar” because he didn’t have us buy a text but lots of paperbacks. He taught Philosophy of History one of the more interesting classes I took.
Another had student evenings at his home for discussion on anything including religion. He was a student of C.S. Lewis and shared much about him. He also wrote a book telling about his wife, his great love of her and her loss called “A Severe Mercy.” I still find people who knew about him and have read his book. His name was Sheldon Van Auken.
These people made an impact on my life. There are many more and I will be thinking about them from time to time.
My grandmother used to tell me about her life as a young girl. At 100 years old she hardly recognized the world she was living in. So many things had changed. Some of the changes have been good for us as humans and others not so good. We need to stay aware of the changes in our world and work to correct those that are bad for us and the earth. After all, our children will know what we have done. What world do we want to leave for them?
It is funny the things we remember and the things we don’t. A while back I went to a conference about how we remember things. The speaker, from Emory University, has been doing a study on how accurate our memories are. The study is more complex than just that but this is a big part of it.
They got information from people following a major life event right after it happened and then again a year later. It was amazing how different the accounts were. We can also believe that we have a memory of something that we actually didn’t experience. If we have heard about the event often enough we incorporate it as a memory.
On the opposite side we forget so many things. I have had people come up to me and tell me a whole incident where I helped them in some way and not only do I not remember the event but I don’t remember them. Our memory is a very chancy thing. It is not as accurate as we think.
However, there are some memories, that we will never ever forget. Those are the ones that are so important to us. I will never forget my marriage or the birth of my children. There are other memories that bring me joy and comfort. I am glad I have those.
I was in college when the great era of folk songs came about. I have always loved folk songs. I learned them early from a 4th grade teacher who played an autoharp and taught us to sing many of them. I love that they tell a story about the life of the people during whatever era they lived in.
In the late 1950″s and early 60’s they became popular and so many of the ones I had learned were sung by the famous groups of the day. The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, The Limelighters, Pete Seeger, The Mamas and the Papas…I could go on and on. Many new songs were written about what was going on at the time.
I find it sad that the problems they highlighted in the world are still there. Maybe we should listen to them again and really hear the message.
As a nurse there is one thing that I have learned well….not everything can be fixed. Often people grow up with the idea that there is nothing that can’t be solved in some way. Working in the hospital it is evident that things go wrong, people die, life is not perfect.
We live in a world where we expect everything to be fixed. Get a headache take a pill. Go to the doctor..get a diagnosis..get fixed. We don’t want to wait for anything. We want everything to be done at once.
Because of that this time is a real eye opener for some. I can’t go to the store and expect to find everything I need. I can’t hop in my car and go out to a restaurant. Everything I want is not available. What a shock.
I was born a year before Pearl Harbor. I don’t remember much about the war as I was very young but I do remember rationing. You couldn’t get everything you wanted. Gas was limited so you couldn’t go where you wanted all the time. We mostly stayed home. My father was working on the pentagon (construction contractor) and was exempt from going to war. This grieved him and he tried several times to go but to no avail.
My parents built a house shortly before the war began. They had extra rooms and took in war wives whose husband were overseas. They lived with us throughout the war. That was the environment I grew in. We were comfortable but certainly weren’t able to choose the life we wanted to live. I was blessed with a sense of extended family and lots of love but we lived in frightening times. Even as a small child I could sense that angst.
This time reminds me of those days. Something from my distant memory pulls feelings from the past. Those feelings are attached to the way things are now. Just like that time we can’t fix it. We just have to wait it out and live with whatever comes afterward.
Remember…patience, patience and waiting. It can’t be fixed but it can be endured and lived beyond.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
― Julian of Norwich
The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves, they find their own order…the continuous thread of revelation. Eudora Welty
Our lives move forward on a continuum. Events happen every day. Some events are memorable and some are not. I have always found it interesting the things we have stored away and can recall and the things we can’t. Our memories are selective. Our brains store information….probably everything we ever did but most of it cannot be recalled.
I have been asked about my earliest memory. I have a memory but it is not really clear. I am standing in a crib in my mother and father’s room. That is all there is. There is no context…nothing more than that. I don’t know why I have that memory. It seems to have no significance but there it is.
Of course we remember traumatic events or days of special happiness but we don’t always remember the specifics and our memories will usually not match those of others who were there.
It is also interesting how memories can be triggered by other senses. A certain smell can cause recall. I grew up in Virginia and my family had large privet hedges around the back yard. When I smell privet it brings back memories of that place.
Music can remind us of a particular time that we heard it. We also experience the feelings associated with those memories. This can be a good thing but in the case of persons who have had a trauma it can bring it all back full force. That is what happens to those with PTSD. The memory comes with all the feelings of fear and horror.
How our brain keeps memories and which ones come to light is not fully known but more is learned each day.
Helping someone you love is not a burden. It is an opportunity to show gratitude. ? from the two popes ?
I wrote this quote down without putting the author but I think that’s where I got it.
It really made me think. In today’s society we have a large aging population. People are living longer. More are having to be cared for. How many of us would be willing to take on what we may see as a burden. If we were blessed enough to have loving parents we need to remember the time, energy and love put into raising us.
I know I didn’t do enough for my parents. I did help and care for my mother and my aunt but they were not unable to care for themselves most of the time. Sometimes I feel guilty for the things I didn’t do to make their lives easier. Like most of us I was involved with my job, my family and my own agenda.
Those we love are not a burden and it should be a privilege to serve them and show our gratitude.
Tuesday is a day that I always look forward to. On Tuesdays I meet with friends for knitting and conversation. We are a group who before starting this group did not know each other. We are all different. We are from different countries, different social groups. This makes the group inspiring and conversation is stimulating.
To add to it we are also being creative. One of the members is an amazing artist and does many pencil drawings for children to color. Each of us is creating something usually in yarn but not always. Most of the things we create are for others. We also offer free help teaching to knitting for anyone who want to learn. This group is such a joy.
I have been knitting since I was a child. It reminds me of the my wonderful mother and the many things she taught me. The motion of my hands and the creating of something both beautiful (I hope) and useful have a calming effect. Knitting can allow the brain to rest (if not too complicated) and the mind to let go of stresses. Seeing the finished product brings joy. Now that I have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren it is fun to do things for them and for friends.