Return to Disney – A Midlife travel journal entry

Magic Kingdom
Entering the Magic Kingdom!

“We’re going to Disney!” Yeah – I said that. Via text.

It was an extended weekend, whirlwind-trip, that started with my youngest daughter. She researched for some military discounts we qualified for, and I started making calls and reservations. Hotel – booked. Flights – booked. Four-day park passes – got ‘em. When they arrived, I took a picture and sent them to my daughter, my sister and my niece.

Return to Disney
We’re going to Disney!

It became real.

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To my soldier on Veterans Day


To my soldier on Veterans Day:

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 KJV

It sure has been a crazy ride, living this military life. There was no way to know what we were in for back in the day. I think about so many who have served – you, our son; my brothers, your brother. Your dad and grandfather. My uncles, your uncles. Our cousins and nephews and neighbors and friends. And by default, all of the spouses and parents and other family members who serve by supporting.

There were a lot of things so foreign to me when we started out, especially all the acronyms. I remember constantly asking, “What does this mean?” And you patiently responded more times than I can count.

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How to thank a vet on Veterans’ Day

Veterans Day
Veterans Day

Today is Veterans’ Day.

Sometimes the meaning of these days of recognition get confused. Veterans’ Day – today – we salute all who have served: both during war and peace time – those who are still living. Memorial Day is reserved for those died. (Source: https://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetday_faq.asp)

Today is a great day to say “thank you” to anyone who has served. Memorial Day is a day of respect and reflection for our war dead. A day of somber remembrance.

So why do we recognize someone who “volunteers” to go into the military? Ah – good question. Because these folks “volunteer,” we don’t have a draft. If for no other reason than that, thank you!

Continue reading “How to thank a vet on Veterans’ Day”

Patriotic path to Veterans Day

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“The sanctity of our battlefields, monuments, and veterans institutions is of utmost importance to preserve military history and pay respect to those who fought.” Henry Waxman

One of the perks of having an “almost-empty-nest” is the ability to travel more frequently. As it happens, the opportunity for an extended weekend away from home has happened a few times this fall. Most recently, I tagged along with my husband on a trip to Maryland.

I had never been there before, and we had a great time getting to our destination. Driving through Ohio, I was manning the interior controls of the rental car, and almost cooked us inside out when I turned on the heated seats full blast while trying to find the air conditioning. Fun times – always a laugh a minute with yours truly. Continue reading “Patriotic path to Veterans Day”

September 11, 2001 – I Will Never Forget

dad's flagBut when I saw her again, we were different women than when we earlier stood talking in front of the preschool.

September 11, 2001

It was one of the most beautiful September mornings I can remember. The sky was crystal clear – not a cloud in the sky – just endless, gorgeous blue for as far as the eyes could see. The sun was warm and there was a hint of a breeze. The air smelled so fresh and sweet. Perfection – one of the few days of the year one could actually say the weather was just perfect.

I remember the day so well. It was the beginning of the school year, and our last baby – at age three – had just started preschool. A monumental time in her life as well as mine. Continue reading “September 11, 2001 – I Will Never Forget”

What is the ultimate sacrifice?

When thinking of our military, the statement “ultimate sacrifice” conjures up thoughts of dying in the line of fire.

For those of us not wearing the uniform, that truly does seem to be the ultimate sacrifice.

As a military wife and mother, “ultimate sacrifice” sends a blood-curdling chill down my spine.

Just this past week, my husband’s unit suffered an ultimate sacrifice, but it was not what anyone would have suspected.  Continue reading “What is the ultimate sacrifice?”

How Mother’s Intuition has deepened our bond

wpid-IMG_20130711_132239.jpg“Intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way.” – Florence Scovel Shinn

I believe God has blessed mothers with a very special gift. Do a Google search for “Mother’s Intuition,” and you could spend days reading about this phenomenon. As Mother’s Day approaches, I got to thinking of my own experiences with Mother’s Intuition.

Continue reading “How Mother’s Intuition has deepened our bond”

The Top 7 Ways 9-11 Changed This MilSpouse

blue star flag

Where were you when the world stopped turning? – Alan Jackson

September 11, 2001. We all remember where we were, what we were doing, and how the world became a scarier place. We watched in horror as innocent men, women and children died a horrific death. We watched in horror as first responders died trying to save lives. We cried for people we didn’t know. We cried tears of joy when a victim was pulled alive from the wreckage.

September 12, 2001, was a different day. Churches were open, people were praying, flags were raised, blood was donated and people from across the country headed to the East Coast to help. Military recruiters saw people lining up to defend our great nation. A great sense of community joined us all together.

We were like one family.

My Army husband, who was no longer on active duty, was restless. His colleagues were fighting in the War on Terror. I knew that his patriotism and military skills were needed, and I also knew that at some point, we would discuss his future military service – a decision that would be difficult to make. Should he re-up? If it kept our sons, our nephews and our friends’ sons from having to go, then yes.

Our decision was wrought with anguish. It certainly wasn’t easy. It was like putting my spouse into the line of fire. But he, being a man of character, strong faith, and a true soldier – selfless to the core – we took a leap of faith.

Without a doubt, September 11, 2001 changed me. It changed our family. It changed our country. Some of the changes in me are good – some, not so much. As I reflect the anniversary, remembering where I was, and who I was then, I will share the Top Seven Ways 9-11-01 changed me – for better and for worse.

1 – Lack of patience: When someone complains that their spouse will be gone a few days, I bite my tongue. I want to shout, “Try six weeks, six months, eight months or fifteen months at a time.” For a lot of families, you can multiply that separation by way more than one deployment in ten years. Admittedly, my lack of patience isn’t fair to others. And, truthfully, I’d rather hear someone complain about missing their spouse than have them doing a happy dance that their spouse is away. But what I realize, is that because of 9-11, my patience level isn’t always where it needs to be, and I am working on that. And it isn’t just this instance. My lack of patience with people being rude and obnoxious is evident. A flaw in my character. So, my lack of patience in others and in their complaining is truly the worst change in me since that awful day.

2 – Putting myself in other’s shoes: I find that I can be more empathetic now than I was before. Not all days, but most, I try my hardest not to judge. The other day, a clerk shorted me $10 in change. I was annoyed that I had to wait while they counted the drawer to make sure I wasn’t scamming. But I also tried to remember that mistakes happen – it wasn’t personal. I also wondered what hardships she was facing. Did she have a son or daughter deploying? An elderly parent to care for? An electric bill that couldn’t be paid? So, one good thing that 9-11 has taught me is to slow my quick tongue, and think before I speak, because I don’t know what burden the next person is carrying. And yes, I am trying really hard to remember that while driving…kind of goes hand-in-hand with that patience flaw I am working on…

3 – Value of time: Military families treasure time above anything else. So, when we see others bicker and complain over their loved ones, it really hurts. Sure, you may not want to pick up a pair of your hubby’s dirty boxers or your mom just may be a witch for grounding you. But there is a spouse out there somewhere who longs to grab dirty socks off the floor. And a teenager missing their parent, even if the parent was “being mean.” Some military families count down the days until a reunion…others aren’t so lucky, as they have faced a hero’s devastating injury or a death. Be kind to your loved ones – let them know you love them. Another good thing from 9-11 is that I learned how valuable time is, even if it sounds corny. Seconds count, as they turn into minutes, hours and days.

4 – Appreciating “geeks” who make our communication possible: Technology, used properly, has been one of the greatest gifts to military families. The ability to video chat, make phone calls, email, etc., has been a Godsend. Honestly, I don’t know how my military spouse predecessors coped, as it took so very long to get a letter from their husbands, fathers and sons. Just 10-12 years ago, we were running our Internet signal off a phone line. Now, our smartphones keep us connected. Holidays, birthdays, special events, even births can all be shared via video feed. What a blessing, what a change, for military families still serving due to 9-11.

5 – Appreciating all service families. It isn’t just the military and their families who deserve a shout-out. It is also our police, fire and other first responders – and their families. Each day, there are parents, spouses and children that send their loved ones out the door to serve and protect us in our daily lives. Those families are on the same emotional roller-coaster that military families ride.  Sadly, it took 9-11 for me to really appreciate what others in our community do to keep us safe. So as much as I appreciate being thanked for my service as an Army wife and an Air Force mom, when I can, I thank our first responders and the families who love, worry and support them.

6 – Flags. Yes, you bet the flag flies proudly here. There is also the addition of a Blue Star service flag, bearing two stars. If, thirty years ago, someone would have told me, a new military spouse at the time, that I’d be presented one of these flags, I wouldn’t have believed them. In fact, I didn’t even know what a Blue Star service flag was back then. Because of 9-11, I have come to love the U.S. flag and what it represents more than I thought I ever would, because I truly understand the cost and sacrifice for freedom.

7 – Faith. Sure, it may sound cliché. But when your spouse or child is in harm’s way, you realize that you truly do not have control. Faith isn’t found just in foxholes, it is found at the kitchen table, tucking the children into bed, in holding hands in prayer, or in the embrace of a caring friend. Knowing that people pray for my family and for me is such a tremendous comfort. Faith brings hope. The biggest – and best – change in me since 9-11 has been my personal walk in faith.

So yes, some good changes, some new appreciations and most definitely an area (or two) of personal growth to work on. If we can take anything away from a tragic event, I hope it is change – good change, so that we become better people – to ourselves, our family and to strangers.

© Lynne Cobb – 2013

How has tragedy changed you? Feel free to share your story in the comment section.