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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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sacrifice

The Ultimate Gift

When I started my new job the end of January, I asked, “Will we have a Valentine’s Day party?”

My boss gave me an incredulous look. “We have open house every Valentine’s Day, but please, don’t call it a party. Our donor families are rarely in a party mood.”

“Oh. Right.”

When I opened the top drawer of my desk, a note waited;

Be mindful that in the heart transplant unit a donor just had the worst day of their life and the lucky recipient is having the best and sometimes we get to meet both sets of families.

 

In response to Charli Mills February 14, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about valentines. It can be Valentine’s Day, the exchange, love for another, romance, or friendship. Have a heart and go where the prompt leads!

Day of the Deployed and the Family too

National Day of the Deployed honors all of the brave men and woman who have been deployed, are sacrificing, or have sacrificed their lives to defend our country. The day also acknowledges their families who are separated from them during deployment and the sacrifices they make in order for their family members to serve our country.

WOW! A military recognition day that also honors the family left at home.  I’ve been in that position and it isn’t easy!  You function as a single parent the best you can (and get used to being in charge) then your spouse returns home, and thinks he is in charge.  It’s always an adjustment to relearn how to share the responsibilities of the family and household.  Today, it’s almost as common to have the Mom gone instead of the Dad.  I would guess that’s even more difficult if the separation is for a long time.

When my nephew was deployed during Dessert Storm, I sent him the Sunday comics each week.  I got more than one letter of thanks, and it is still mentioned at the holiday dinner table.  He laughs, “If I had been a drinking man, I would have charged rent on them.  As it was, there became a pecking order of who got to read them when I was finished.  They got passed along until they were tattered.”  Those funny papers were a touch of American life and home for the guys deployed.

I recently attended a church service where a young man was recognized before being deployed to Iraq the following week.  He told us he would be back in a year, if all went well.  I hate to admit, when we said good-bye to Dillon, we were all thinking, I hope you do come back.  It made sending him off a little harder to do.

These days the deployed can communicate much easier with home via cell phones and Skype.  I thought it would make deployment easier on both sides, but a good friend, a Captain in the Army, told me it makes it more difficult for some, because the parent at home shares all the troubles (car won’t start, mother-in-law didn’t send a birthday card, child is acting out because they don’t understand where Dad/Mom is) and the person deployed can’t do anything from so far away except feel guilty for not being there. As I said, it isn’t easy.

If you know someone who is deployed, may I suggest you take the time to send them a card or stop by their house and ask the family if they need something done.  I promise, they will appreciate knowing someone recognizes the sacrifice they are making for the U.S.A.

Freedom Isn’t Free

Currently there is a national push to thank our military personnel, past and present, for their service.  That’s a wonderful thing, because freedom isn’t free.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand why we have “boots on the ground” in some places we know little about.  Our government makes the decision where our troops go.  We don’t have to agree with that decision, but I ask that you support the troops regardless.

Have you ever noticed a small rectangular white flag in the window of a house in your neighborhood?  If that flag has a blue star in the middle it means an active duty military person calls that address home; one of the parents hung that flag with a feeling of pride.  If the flag has a gold star, it means the military member made the ultimate sacrifice with his or her life for the United States of America.

Think about that a minute and relate it to your own life.  Can you call, skype, text, or visit your child at will?  Some parents can’t.  They go to the cemetery and cry, shake their head with disbelief, and imagine the next holiday without their child in attendance.  Does the hurt of losing a child ever go away?  No.  It becomes tolerable over time because you learn to deal with it, but it never goes away.  (We buried a daughter, 13 years ago, when she was 27, after an auto accident; that’s how I know.)

We have many freedoms in this country that other countries do not enjoy.  Are we perfect? Far from it.  Probably never will be, but at least we don’t have a civil war tearing at us night and day like Syria does.  Be thankful for that.  Be thankful for the relative peace we do have.  Be even more thankful for the military that keeps us safe in ways we will never know about.  And the next time you see a little white rectangular flag in someone’s window say a silent prayer the blue star never gets replaced by a gold one; if it is already a gold one, remember, freedom isn’t free and that family has paid the price.

There are Gold Star Mother groups in many cities all over the country.  Visit   http://www.goldstarmoms.com    to find one near you.  They can help a parent deal with loss.

I wrote this from a parent’s point of view because that is what I am.  It can also be turned around that it is the child going to visit their parent in the cemetery.  Again.  Freedom isn’t free.

 

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