It’s hard to believe another year is drawing to a close. And of course, this is the time of year we are most sentimental with memories of holidays past, like when turkeys fly.
When your dog dies…
“I could give you some medication for him. It would alleviate some of the pain, but…”
I knew when I hugged him that it would be for the last time. Cradled in my oldest son’s arms, I bid farewell to our family’s dog.
He had a wonderful life. He lived better than some humans, as he never wanted for a meal or a warm place to lay his head.
Apparently, I slept through what my husband said was Jack’s very labored breathing. Our dear old dog made some very odd sounds, jarring my husband awake. And since I woke at my usual time, I let Jack outside while I filled his dish with his breakfast, not knowing what had transpired through the night.
“Grandmas never run out of hugs or cookies.” Author Unknown
Looking out the kitchen window, I watched my two granddaughters playing basketball with their uncles – my sons.
It wasn’t too long ago that I’d watch my boys out that same window, and now they are grown men. They have fond memories of that basketball hoop, and memories of the one-and-one games with each other; of games with their dad, my dad, cousins and countless friends. And a few memories of the times when I’d impress them by landing several baskets of my own, thank you very much.
It really hit me how life has changed.
I cried because I am missing my dad, even more with each passing year. I missed the excitement of being a kid on a holiday, all excited to go see relatives that I thought would live forever. Then, I cried because I missed my grandmothers, great-grandmothers and my great-aunts. Continue reading “Why I cried on Mother’s Day”
My sister-in-law and I have a code. Since we communicate these days mostly by texting, we know that if we get a text that reads, “Got a minute to chat?” then it is time to talk – whether on the phone or in person.
She was my one of my “battle buddies” while my husband was on an unaccompanied tour, and then a few months later, when he and our oldest son were deployed at the same time. She has listened to me rant and rave like a crazy woman and has seen me at my absolute worse – mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute.” – Albert Einstein
Doing my “bicycle exercises” is definitely helping the health of my legs; the same legs that now feel like rubber. The burn in my muscles lets me know I am making progress. The other day, from my vantage point on the floor, I was certain I had been peddling away for hours. Laying on my exercise mat, I glanced over at the clock. Surely I had made progress, and was inching to the two-minute mark.
Nope. I hadn’t even completed one minute of peddling. Continue reading “When minutes add up to years”
I wrote this article a few years ago, and it was originally published in the Detroit Free Press Twist Magazine on November 10, 2007. Earlier this week, one of our youngest son’s friends left for the U.S. Air Force-BMT. Late last year, the daughter of another family we know enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. To these young people – thank you! And to the military moms and dads, we are here for you!
Proud military mom – BY LYNNE COBB
Last Veterans Day, Lynne Cobb wrote about having her husband away at war in Iraq. This year, Lynne tells us about the mixed emotions of her son joining the military. This is her story.
Labor Day weekend, as many parents were packing up their kids and sending them to college, I watched my oldest son, David, scrutinize his very short list and place his few authorized belongings into a nondescript duffle bag. No microwaves or futons going with him. He was off to U.S. Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT).
BMT is a whole new world. Your child leaves with one bag — no computer, no cell phone — no texting, instant messaging or calling. You do not get to talk to your child until he or she has the opportunity to call you. The first call will be about two minutes — enough for you to get an address. Mail service is slow. I found the lack of communication to be unnerving. Not quite a year since his dad’s return from Iraq, my son was off and running on a new adventure. Excitement and apprehension ran high for the family. I wrestled my emotions — pride, fear and the realization that our family would never be the same.
As the weeks of training continued, I found myself wondering what was more difficult — being a military wife or being a military mom and sending my son to training and possibly war. The first few days of my son’s departure, I was in tears. When I went two days without crying, I felt I had made progress. There were days I would hear his favorite song and smile; other days that song would reduce me to tears. I’d see his truck parked outside and think, “He’s home,” only to realize a split-second later that, no, he really wasn’t.
I never realized just how much I’d miss him, that the ache would be so intense. It was like an emotional replay of my husband’s deployment. And, as with that deployment, my emotions ran the gambit between pride, lonely emptiness and worry. The emotional parallel is nearly identical, though I felt the need to go and rescue my son.
My husband has been supportive of my mixed bag of feelings. There is great comfort in having such a close source to answer my questions. We joke as to whom I should root for during the Army-Air Force football game.
My husband and I were blessed to be at our son’s graduation from BMT. It was an experience we’ll never forget and an event I wish every American could witness. To see almost 1,000 recruits graduate and take the oath to defend our nation is a moment I’ll never forget. While hearing the national anthem, seeing the U.S. flag as well as the flags of the 50 states and U.S. territories waving in the warm Texas breeze was a sight to behold. Not only was I a proud mother, but a proud American.
I am so very proud of the decision my son made to serve our nation. I am humbled by, and I thank, those who have made the same decision, and for those who will do the same. I thank the parents who supported their child’s decision.
No matter what the future holds, with faith and prayer, we will survive the miles between us, wherever he may be called to serve.
Are you a military mom? Have you experienced sending your child off to boot camp? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments section. And again, thank you for service as a military family!
© Lynne Cobb – 2014
Something has been really bothering me for a while, and I have to just unload.
There is no surprise that we are a nation divided on so many levels these days. We can’t seem to find common ground on many topics. From religion to politics to the war of words between each other, there is an undercurrent of “I’m right, you’re wrong.” There are no disagreements between people anymore, as differences have evolved into “wars.” People have become entrenched in their camps, drawing lines in the sand, seeing everything in black and white, allowing no room for gray.
For the umpteenth time in several months, I have seen people post statuses on social media, and then request of their friends and followers the following: “If you don’t agree with _______ (fill in the blank), then unfriend me.”
Whether it is political, social, religious or whatever, the premise is that if I, or others, don’t believe in their cause or with their opinion, they don’t want my friendship online.
But I also take that as they don’t want my friendship. At all. Period.
I take umbrage with that.
I am blessed that I have a huge family and many friends and colleagues. If I have sent a friend request to someone, or accepted an invitation from another, it is because I value the person and want to be in contact. I want to share in their joys, accomplishments and celebrations, offer support during tough times, commiserate about the weather, engage in dialogue, share recipes or great places to dine, see what is happening in their lives. I want to see photos of their family, vacation, garden, artwork or how much snow was dumped in their corner of the world. I want to read their blog posts, or read what they found interesting or enlightening. For me, there is a connection with the individual – online and offline – and I feel privileged to be a part of that friend’s life.
But I am growing weary of the the “un-friend” me requests. I may not share your religious, social or political views. I may not like your favorite animal or artist or movie or music. I may not like your haircut or the way you clean (or don’t clean) your house. I may not like the state you live in or the hobbies you have or the car you drive. I may not like the charities you support. I may not like that you don’t support charities. I may not like the joke you shared or the beverage you drink. I may not cheer for the same team you do or like your stance on something or agree with your parenting views.
But I like you.
With all our differences of opinions. With everything that makes us completely different or polar opposites. We have a history. We have shared life and secrets and dreams and conversations.
I like you. My friend.
Why do we need to be in complete agreement on everything in order to remain friends? Why do our differences – or our perceived differences – have to be the end of a friendship – online or in person? Is it easier to let people out of our lives with the click of a mouse than over a meal at a local diner?
Maybe we can just chop our online friend lists so easily, because we see each other as a status with a profile photo and not for who they really are – a living, breathing person.
If I were to unfriend someone each time we didn’t see eye-to-eye, I would be posting statuses and photos for my own enjoyment.
Go ahead and unfriend me. That’s okay. But for the sake of friendship, I won’t unfriend you. Because with all that is wrong in this crazy world, we can’t have too many friends, whether we are in agreement on all subjects or not.
What do you think? Share in the comment section. If this post resonates with you, feel free to share with others.
© Lynne Cobb – 2014
“Keep the fire lit in your marriage and your life will be filled with warmth.”-Fawn Weaver
This past August, my husband and I celebrated a milestone in our lives – our 30-year wedding anniversary. Three decades! Over 10,000 days being married. I’d calculate the hours and days, but that may overwork my calculator!
Of course, our anniversary was an exciting observation for my spouse, myself, our children and our parents. I wish my dad had been here to celebrate, but I know he was smiling from heaven. I remember when I was a little girl, he stated that he would choose my husband. And when I shared with Dad that I was engaged, he was ecstatic. At the time, my soon-to-be-husband was stationed in Alaska. He proposed to me over the phone, and I received my engagement ring via UPS. I had to pry the package out of Dad’s hands, reminding him that it was addressed to me.
My husband and I met on a blind date, arranged by friends of ours, who had just met in college. Home for the Christmas break, my friend and her boyfriend described three of their friends they wanted me to meet. I chose the soldier, who was home on leave, and who was stationed 14 hours away via plane. Why? Well, should the date be a disaster, the possibility of ever running into each other again was incredibly slim.
Of course, we hit it off famously, and our story began.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Separated for nine months, we planned a wedding from afar and learned a lot about each other through letters and very expensive phone calls from the mainland to Alaska. After we were married, we lived a fairly routine military life: many moves, two children born in different states, then out of the Army and back home. Two more children entered our world, then the 9-11 terrorist attacks changed our family’s world – and back to Army life, this time as a Reserve family.
Our life together has been dotted with challenges: job losses, financial pain, military deployments, burying loved ones, disappointments.
Our life together has been amazingly blessed: Four children, the addition of our oldest children’s spouses, granddaughters, laughter – lots of laughter – strong faith, survival of the tough times, weddings, birthdays, graduations, confirmations, baptisms, seeing our children’s talents, watching them grow into amazing adults. Hands-down, we would say, “I do,” all over again.
As we got closer to our anniversary, I started reading blogs and comments about other long marriages. I wondered if there was any “secret” and if so, how did my husband and I rate among these folks. Honestly, I became depressed. The more I read, the more I witnessed pain and despair from people in long marriages, ending their lives together. Twenty, thirty, even forty years. I kept reading, trying to see why those couples fell apart, and panicked: could that happen to us?
Straight up answer – yes, it could.
Realistically, it could happen to anyone. And with the stress of a military marriage, just like the stress in any other high-adrenalin occupation – police, firefighters, etc. – a couple’s odds of marital failure are increased. Families of first responders and families of the military deal with fear of injury and death – for the most part on a daily basis. There is physical separation, missed holidays, lonely anniversaries, solo-parenting at special events – the list is endless. Additionally, these families deal with injuries, PTSD, loss of colleagues and other job-related issues.
So, my quest continued. Is there a magic formula for keeping it together? How do some marriages last, and others unravel? At some point in any relationship, there are bound to be arguments, hurt feelings, betrayal of trust, financial distress, illness and disease, and a host of other problems. So, I kept reading articles, blogs and commentaries. Some stories were so profoundly sad, and others – less in numbers – were inspiring. It seemed that there was so much negativity toward marriage, I wondered why anyone even bothered.
Recently, though, I have started to see some encouraging blog posts. One was from a man who was divorced, and he laid out a plan for other men to follow. It went viral, as he described how he hurt his spouse, and what he’d do differently. Another recent post was a young man whose father gave him advice – basically, that by treating your spouse well, your spouse will reciprocate. In a nutshell, treat others as to how you want to be treated – age-old advice that is true in any circumstance.
Out of all my research and reading, I did not find any one particular piece of advice for sustaining a long-term marriage. From what I gathered, mutual respect, trust, love and forgiveness were some of the key components. Noteworthy were the articles and books about how men and women think and view the world in different ways, and many times not understanding our differences makes for difficult times. I think that respecting each other and our differences goes a long way in better communication – another key ingredient to strengthening our vows. And from a few folks in the medical community, the need to understand, acknowledge and support the physical and emotional changes men and women go through during their lives, especially mid-life, is another critical area of focus. And, of course, supporting each other’s dreams, careers and ambitions help bolster the couple.
As a military spouse, our families are subject to frequent separations due to training, temporary duty assignments and deployments. In fact, in the past eight years, my husband and I have spent four wedding anniversaries apart. Service members leave home, and the spouses are left behind to keep the home fires burning. Whenever I hear this phrase, I picture a pioneer woman, literally keeping the fire burning – handling her role as well as her spouse’s. It brought to mind a metaphor, and I believe, it sparked an a-ha moment – a frequent occurrence lately for this mid-life writer…
Marriage is like a fire. It starts out as a spark, and as the flame grows, it becomes hot and, sometimes, unpredictable. Once it settles down a bit, it becomes “perfect.” The heat begins to level off, and the fire is soothingly warm and comfortable – somewhat predictable. However, it still needs to be tended. Add a log or two, and it will keep burning. By becoming complacent, and carelessly letting it burn down too far, there is danger of the fire going out. However, even if there is just a little heat, the embers, which are cooling down, can be regenerated. It isn’t too late to save. Stoke it, add a little oxygen, then add another log, and the fire will return. It may need some prodding, but with patience and time, the flames will grow. Is it easy? Not at all. One can easily forget to toss a log on the fire when busy and away from the fireplace. It can become a hassle to keep the fire burning, but if it isn’t attended, the fire, at some point, will die out.
It isn’t easy to be the tender of the fire. It takes time, and sometimes there is only one person to keep it going. But, when it is well-tended, the rewards are amazing. There is warmth, comfort and light. There is satisfaction of keeping it going, even through the difficulties and the moments that it seemed impossible.
And, ultimately, there is joy in sharing something so very precious, so very life-sustaining, so very comforting.
Do you have any thoughts on how to keep a marriage strong? Any favorite metaphors? Feel free to leave a comment.
© Lynne Cobb – 2014
Well, one day I can tell my future grandchildren, “We survived the Polar Vortex of 2014!” My two granddaughters will chime in and tell their future cousins, “It snowed and snowed and then it was so cold, we missed five days of school!”
After being stuck in the house for days – which seems like years – it is comical how I continue to look at the rising thermometer with glee. For the first time in a few days, the mercury is rising, and we are at temps above zero. Seventeen degrees never felt so good.
Being housebound, I’d like to say I accomplished a lot, but that would be the farthest thing from the truth. I could have cleaned closets and cupboards, but I didn’t. Instead, I did a lot of reflecting and observing. Nothing like a weather crisis to bring on some serious people-watching.
So, from my snow-covered, frozen little corner of the world, I have penned what I learned about myself and humanity during a snowstorm and polar vortex:
- Humans can be greedy. Okay, this news junkie decided to watch The Weather Channel for the first several hours of the snowstorm, as I was curious to see the extent of Mother Nature’s fury. I was in awe of how massive the storm system was. The stories and images of people clearing out grocery shelves was a sad statement. How many gallons of milk, loaves of bread and cartons of eggs do we need to survive a few days?
- News anchors sound silly. My intelligence was insulted repeatedly with information on how to survive the cold and snow. It is winter. It snows. It gets cold – sometimes brutally cold. Generations before us survived without the idiot lessons – just saying…
- Concern over animals. I read and heard more coverage on how to protect pets and wildlife from the elements than I did about checking on the homeless and elderly. That kind of bothered me. A lot.
- Cold is painful. Ouch – walking out the door was like being slapped in the face!
- Humans are compassionate: I heard and saw how good we can be to each other. Wonderful stories emerged of individuals rising to the occasion and coming to the aid of their fellow man, such as helping others free their cars from snow banks, clearing their neighbors’ walkways of snow and helping to start stalled cars. It was refreshing to see and hear of folks putting others’ needs first. Random acts of kindness.
- Social media: The other evening, I had a great time on social media. I learned how cold it was in other areas of the country, saw incredible snow and ice pictures, and just had amazing conversations with friends, family and neighbors from around the world. We were all stuck inside, but able to communicate, and that was really a blessing.
- Crash-course in mathematics: Remember the number charts: …-3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3…? Interesting how all of that came back to me as I watched the thermometer drop – and rise again! Glad I can remember how to do simple math!
- Science nerd: Why not have a little fun? A few summers ago, during a heat wave, I cooked an egg on the sidewalk. With record cold temps, my daughter and I were like giddy kids, wanting to try something new. So, we boiled water, opened the door, flung the water away from the house and watched it vaporize and change its form before our very eyes. First we tried our experiment in the dark, and then during the daylight. Very cool both times. We blew bubbles (after defrosting the frozen bottle overnight) and watched how they solidified and shattered like glass in the cold. A few of the bubbles froze to the wand! Of course we were careful, as true scientists would be, and made sure we were protected from the elements and boiling water. Bazinga.
- Apologies: I realized I needed to call my mother and apologize for rolling my eyes at her back when I was a teen. Over the past few days, my own teens thought I was overprotective when I wouldn’t let them drive on ice-covered roads. If the State Police advise not driving in certain areas, and schools are closed due to black ice, what makes a teen think he or she is invincible? Oh, their hysterical laughter would have been music to my ears if I was at an open mike night at the local comedy club. But alas, I was not. I was just standing at the door, merely suggesting to have a hat and gloves in case the car breaks down or gets stuck in a snow rut. At that very moment, I knew then how my parents felt. Sorry, Mom and Dad!
- Teens vs. Toddlers: Snow days with teens are easier than with younger kids. Why? Because they sleep away most of the day! Enough said.
- Gratitude: Giving thanks to God that we never lost power, that we had plenty of firewood and a well-stocked pantry, that we have a place to call home and that we didn’t have it as bad as others did – all are blessings to not take for granted.
So, while the fierce winter winds wailed and the snowflakes and mercury steadily dropped, my observation is that during this crazy weather week, there was a lot more positive than negative. That was good.
Yes, our family and many others survived a moment in history. A moment that I pray won’t be repeated. If I never again have the chance to toss boiling water into the air, I won’t complain. If I never hear the words “polar vortex” again, I won’t be bothered a bit. I can safely cross “visit Antarctica” from my bucket list.
For sure, it will be a winter to remember. On the bright side, there are only 70 days until spring! 🙂
© Lynne Cobb – 2014
If you were caught in the Polar Vortex, what did you do to survive? Any astute observations? Let me know in the comment section!