Monday, May 28, 2018

Remembering on Memorial Day

These photo say it all. Memorial Day is a U.S. national holiday when we remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. If you have lost a loved one, please know that millions are pausing today to reflect on your sacrifices. We care. Thank you for giving up the most precious thing you could give - your children, fathers and mothers, grandparents, brothers and sisters, cousins, and friends. I hope you can let the American people embrace you today in a gigantic collective hug of love and appreciation.

While today isn't really about the living, it's a great opportunity to thank veterans and the men and women who are currently serving in our Armed Forces. At any time, those at war could join the fallen at our national memorials at Arlington Cemetery and across the country. I should go there today. My parents are both there, but my parking pass was destroyed in the fire.

Today, some who were injured while serving are healing at hospitals around the world. Their stories - grit, determination, and bravery - are inspirational. Others who have returned from war aren't receiving the care (or the jobs) we owe them. That saddens me, especially when they are put on endless waiting lists for care, a debacle our government can't seem to rectify.

There was a beautiful, moving tribute, originally published in the Washington Post, A Song of Gratitude at Arlington National Cemetery, by Page Johnson of McLean, Virginia. I recommend that you read it at this link.

Here's a short excerpt.

So on this day of memories, I come to tell them thank you. I come to tell them I honor their service and the heritage they have given me. Most of all, I come to tell them that they are neither alone nor forgotten. I will be here for them, in spirit and in deed, and for their fellow soldiers trying to make a safer world so the children of every mother and father can sleep securely at night.

This photo is another that left me in tears.  This Memorial Day weekend, please pause to honor and remember the U.S. military dogs, who have been selflessly serving since World War II. In this photo, Staff Sgt. Thomas Sager carries the body of Dinomt (pronounced "dynomite"), a 90-pound German shepherd killed by an IED while on patrol in Kandahar. "He somehow took most of the blast, saving my life," his handler, Petty Officer 2nd Class Leroy Williams, said in an article a couple of months after Dinomt died. "I am eternally grateful. … There has not been a night go by yet that I don't miss him and even cry for him."

So many images - so many stories - define Memorial Day. "Thank you" doesn't seem adequate. While there will be pageantry, picnics, parades, concerts, and fireworks today, many of us will be thinking tearfully about the heroes who gave their lives so that we could live in peace.

Photos courtesy of unknown,, National Geographic, and the Washington Post

Friday, May 18, 2018

My Tragedies

I'm writing on my iPad, the only computer I have left. Last Wednesday, my house burned "down." Charlie and I were not there, thank God. I've had a very bad few months, as Alexander would put it (remember the children's book?).

I had Legionnaires pneumonia and was hospitalized for eight days. If a friend hadn't insisted on a wellness check by the police, I would have died. They found me unconscious on the floor. I have no memory of that or how long I had been passed out. I'm told I had sepsis and kidney failure in addition to the pneumonia.

After the hospital, Charlie and I moved to a rehab center in an assisted living facility close to my house. I needed to get stronger, and I did. I thought that was the worst of it. Then, my sister, who was helping renovate my house, hired a company named Pest Now to eradicate the termites they found in my attic. A few hours after they left, my entire attic was in flames. Long story short, my house was destroyed. It will take at least eight months to rebuild it.

I lost much of my makeup museum, almost all my clothes, and I don't even know what else because all salvageable items are in a warehouse owned by my restoration company or with specialists who deal with art and antiques. My best jewelry was stolen.

If there is a silver lining to the last few months, Charlie is fine, and my pneumonia is gone. Chubb, my insurance company, has been fabulous. I can't say enough good things about them. Please check your insurance policy and make sure that you have a guaranteed rebuild clause (regardless of cost), more than adequate contents coverage (riders for valuables), and will have the money to live somewhere while your destroyed house is rebuilt. Chubb is paying for the rehab center where I will stay for the duration. It's five minutes from my house, and I feel safe here. I have a two bedroom apartment with a sprinkler system in every room...and Charlie seems happy.

Writing this has brought tears to my eyes. One of the restoration guys said I have PTSD. Could be true. I told my doctor I thought I might need a psychiatrist. I wasn't kidding. They weren't kidding when they told me I have a new job, with no pay. The work involved in making decisions, meeting people at my house every day, buying clothes and other necessities, and more has been continuous. Thank God Chubb is supplying me with the money I need to live.

That's the outline of "where I've been." Many of you have asked, and I'm grateful for your love.

I couldn't get a photo into this feature. I tried, but finally punted.