Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


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Sorting Through Memories

 

folder-for-dads-retirement-certificate1.jpg

I’m very close to finishing up with my dad’s room. Today, I finished the closet, except for some shirts. I already donated about 30 pairs of pants, or as my dad would say, trousers. After wrapping several years of receipts and tax records in paper bags and duct tape  and lugging them to the trash, I finally went to reach up to the top closet shelf. There were more tax records to wrap,  a picture of some general or colonel he must have served under, and finally a large padded envelope. What could it be? Something important, I imagined.

Inside the envelope was a thin red book with the Marine Corps emblem. Opening the book, I discovered it was a folder with my dad’s certificate of retirement after 20 years in the Corps and a photos of him with 17 other retirees in khaki uniforms. My dad was clearly the handsomest. But they made a mistake on the date! The certificate says he retired in 1979. But he retired in June of 1969 right after I finished 6th grade. Oh, well.

I carried the red folder in the chair I keep in my dad’s room, my grief chair, where I go to feeling my feelings, and cried. I’m not sure if it was the significance of the retirement certificate or that I hadn’t cried in a while and have been working intensely on this room for a few days. Then Doodle came in, tail wagging and a concerned look in her big brown eyes. She can be a sweet dog sometimes.

I took a breath and decided to talk to my parents:

“I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate you more when you were alive. All the challenges and struggles you went through. Your strength. Your courage. Your faith. Thank you for passing that on to me. If you can, guide me, help me to pass that on to my children, even though they are grown.”

My parents responded:

You’ve done a good job. We are proud of you. Just keep setting a good example. Love them. Don’t be afraid to tell them, “Jesus loves you.” He does love them, and he loves you, too.

Talking to my parents helped. Their message helped. Crying helped.

My father’s retirement must have been a big deal. Definitely a relief, but maybe a little scary. Like my retirement. If I’d gotten a retirement certificate, I would’ve hung it on the wall. Or at least the refrigerator.

My father is the person who told me when I was 12 years old, “Nothing is impossible.” His words made an impression. But now, I realize that his life made even more of an impression. Even after his 20 years of military service, my parents faced and overcame big challenges. They want me to clarify that they couldn’t have done it without Jesus.

I still have a little more of Dad’s desk to clean out. No telling what I’ll find there. He saved everything. There’s a cigar box full of shoe laces. And I will never have to buy paper clips again. Here are some things I’ve found in and around my dad’s desk. You never know when you might need some carbon paper.

stuff from dads desk

Later I spent a couple of hours making a collage from one of Mom’s old angel calendars. It was an intensely fun diversion. I think the hands are interesting.

Angel Calenar Collage

Tomorrow, I switch gears and get some yellow paint samples for the kitchen!

 


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A Pacifist Honors a Soldier

Song Lyric Sunday

At first, I was going to skip Song Lyric Sunday this week. I had mixed feelings about the theme: Songs about the military. You see, for many years, I’ve been a pacifist. I love peace songs. I’m a card carrying member of Grandmothers for Peace.

My dad, sometime in the 50s?

Still, I want to honor my father. He was a marine for 20 years. He was a good man. A loving man. A devout Christian. He was tormented about what he experienced in Korea and Vietnam. Haunted. He had terrible nightmares about those wars. He was also the strongest and bravest man I’ve ever known. He told me that, “Nothing is impossible.” My father served his country well, both in the military and afterward, up until his death this past January.

fox hole and preg mom

So, for today’s military theme, I’m sharing the Marine Corps Hymn. I remember my daddy singing it when I was a little girl. I will always be proud of him.

The last few lines are kind of funny.

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
of United States Marine.

Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in ev’ry clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job–
The United States Marines.

Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

Here’s the the song:


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Tough Old Marines

Jerry's medalsThey knew each other in Vietnam. Jerry was one of four tunnel rats in a battalion of about 2000 marines. Dad’s unit didn’t have a tunnel rat, so when they needed one, they’d call up battalion to get one. Sometimes it was Jerry. He’d crawl through tunnels with a pistol in one hand and a flashlight in the other, and a rope tied to his ankles so his buddies could pull him back out. Jerry got away with cutting up on the radio, cracking jokes, and harassing everyone, even officers, because he was so valuable.

My dad was a Gunnery Sargent, but did the job of an officer, leading his own platoon through the jungle. He retired after 20 years in the corps and still has nightmares about Vietnam. Jerry stayed in a little longer and retired as a Master Sargent.

My dad and Jerry each earned three purple hearts during their military careers. Dad got his in Korea, being wounded in the legs and back.  Jerry was seriously wounded in the abdomen in Vietnam.

They weren’t close in Vietnam, but as civilians, they serendipitously ended up being neighbors. Jerry moved in across the street from us when I was in high school. The bond of having served together in hell ignited an instant friendship. Jerry and Dad (and Jerry’s wife and my mom) became  best friends.

As I grew older and listened to their stories, I came to respect my father and Jerry more. In spite of my pacifist leanings, my peace songs, and peace rallies, I grew to admire the strength and courage of these two men who I knew to be caring fathers and loving husbands. They’d both been close to death multiple times. They both had to do horrible things to stay alive. Dad didn’t talk much about Vietnam, but with Jerry around, the stories flowed easier. Jerry’s sense of humor was good therapy. I wonder if it kept him from going crazy.

When dad was in the hospital with is heart surgeries, and when mom was in the nursing home, Jerry and his wife, Joyce, always visited, even after they moved an hour away to the same city I live in. After mom died, they tried to help me convince Dad to move closer to us. But dad has been stubborn, staying in the house where he feels my mom’s presence. Because of his age and health problems, we all assumed my dad would die before Jerry. My dad is 84, but Jerry at 75, went on ahead. Jerry died unexpectedly this past Thursday, on Nov. 5.

November is a hard month. Dad’s sister, my older sister, and my mom, all died in the month of November, and now Jerry, too.

carrying the casket in

For me, Jerry’s death is hard evidence that, contrary to what I’d like to believe, even tough old marines don’t live forever. But I will always remember what my dad told me when I was twelve:

“Nothing is Impossible.”

It’s even possible for a tree-hugging pacifist to love, respect and deeply admire a couple of  tough old marines.

I am forever grateful to my father, to Jerry, and to others like them, for their years of dedicated service as soldiers and as civilians. I am increasingly amazed at my father’s character, his integrity, and his strength in adversity. His body may wear out, but his spirit will live forever. And so will Jerry’s.

 

always faithful even in the pouring rain

Always faithful – even in the pouring rain, as we said goodbye to one tough old marine.

 


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Stream of Consciousness Ramblings on Cats, Dogs, and More

There’s so much going on that I could write about, but at this moment, none of it has to do with our Saturday Stream of Consciousness prompt, which is “cat.”  Is it possible to find a connection?

Well, the cat does not have my tongue, or my keyboard. I’m getting ready for an art show at my church and taking my”Forest Angel,”

Forest Angel

Forest Angel by JoAnne Silvia

… and tonight, a fund raising dinner for a local farm. Sunday night is the visitation for the family of my father’s best friend who died yesterday, and the funeral is Monday. I will probably write about my dad and his  friend later. They sure could tell some stories about their times in the marine corps……

I’m glad I don’t have a cat right now. I have nothing against cats. I have had cats before. When my son was born, we had a cat. She was fine with him when he was a baby. One time I was so used to picking up my son, when he weighed about 10 lbs, the same weight as the cat, that I picked up the cat and put her over my shoulder like the baby, without thinking. It was funny. I must have been trying to take her somewhere. Ramble was her name, and she was a good cat. She would bring all kinds of presents into the house: lizards, birds, once she even brought in a snake. She had the snake’s neck in her mouth and the black snake body wrapped around hers. Fortunately it was not poisonous. Once she brought in a half grown bunny. But we were able to let the bunny go outside.

So I have nothing against cats, but I’m mostly a dog person, which you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while. I love dogs. We are down to three, having had five when my true love returned to me. Having a cat would be very close to impossible and very stressful, since the dogs, at least one of them, would not be…..compatible, to put it  in not so gory terms. I don’t want to go there.

Doodle on the bed

Doodle says, “I would love to play with a kitty.”

Cats can be nice and quiet and snuggly on cold winter nights. Maybe I will have a cat again some day, when I’m old, (older, cause I’m not really old yet…..) and need a quiet, calm pet. I’m probably not being honest here. I’m more likely to have a dog, even when I’m old. Though as I get older, I do appreciate smaller dogs after always wanting big dogs for most of my life. Small dogs are easier to bathe, have smaller messes, and they are definitely easier to pick up and carry somewhere. Easier to find a sitter for than big dogs…. But big dogs are better protection. I still like big dogs, just not the big messes. I don’t know how to end this.

The End. This concludes my Saturday Stream of Consciousness Post for Nov. 7.

There.

PS. I wont have much time to read and comment Saturday due to the art show, but I’ll be sure to catch you later!

SOC badge with butterfly

If you’d like to join in the Saturday SOC prompt and post, visit Linda’s blog:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/11/06/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-nov-715/

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


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Memories from Dad: Nothing is Impossible

http://pixabay.com/en/photos/?q=boy+scouts&image_type=&cat=&order=best

My blog title “Anything is Possible” was inspired in part by my father.

When I was 12, Dad told me “Nothing is Impossible.” It was his response to my question about whether it was impossible for us to stay in North Carolina. He was about to retire from the Marine Corps and we were going to move again. I was so tired of moving. We drove up to Pennsylvania, but the deal fell though on the house and the moving van hadn’t even gotten out of the gate, so we headed back down south proving that anything is possible.

Recently I asked my dad, who’s now 83, where he got the “Nothing is Impossible” philosophy, guessing it had something to do with his 20 years in the Corps. But that wasn’t it. He told me he got it from his scout master, Earl Nelson.

When Dad was a boy in Wisconsin, his scout troop’s mission was to help plant Jack Pine seedlings near Bear Paw Lake.  The scouts had thousands of trees to plant over 20 acres that had been burned. Fifty boy scouts were supposed to be on site, but on the first day, only 15 showed up, including my dad, who said it couldn’t be done. They didn’t have enough scout power to plant all those trees. That’s when Dad first heard his scout master say, “nothing is impossible.”

Jack pine

Over the next five days, more scouts arrived, and they planted 150,000 trees. Earl Nelson apparently said “nothing is impossible” many more times after that.

I asked Dad if he ever thought about “nothing is impossible” when he was in the jungles of Vietnam. He said no. He was too busy.

I believe “Nothing is Impossible” was imbedded in him to the point that he didn’t have to think about it, and that he needed that belief most after he came back from Vietnam to help him figure out how to live with the horrors that haunted him, the ones he doesn’t talk about much because they still give him nightmares.

But he did say he used the motto when teaching classes on map reading. He explained to me all about how old maps, like the ones they used in Korea and Vietnam, become out of date because the earth moves. He explained about map grids. “Over 30 years, a building or a river bend can move into a completely different map grid,” he said.  One of his recruits said it was impossible to find anything with those old maps, and got the “Nothing is Impossible,” response from my Dad.

Then Dad, went on to explain that they used something called a  declination diagram at the bottom of the map to compensate for the movement of the earth. He said the declination diagram was developed after WW2 and after  Admiral Byrd’s confusion in the Arctic. compass-163722_640 pix a bay

My head was spinning about the earth moving like that and how much my dad knew. He never went to college and graduated from high school by taking night classes while he was in the Marine Corps. I was surprised to learn that he never made Eagle Scout. He said he was too busy.