Remembering Lost Soldiers

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I had an uncle, my mom’s brother, who was a towering giant of a man. As a child when you were around him you felt incredibly safe and protected but at the same time, scared of him – you never want to anger a six plus foot tall man when you’re only three feet tall, lol.

I remember our families, my sisters and I and our cousin Rebecca spending a lot of time together when we were younger, before our families all settled in different areas and our lives became too busy for regular forays to visit family in other states.

We had a lot of fun, for a long time all of the kids in our family were girls until my cousin Wesley came along (named after my uncle). Regardless when we were younger we would all inevitably anger the big man, always far too late at night for us little girls to be awake and giggling, and we’d hear the giant bellow from the living room, “Girls, GO TO SLEEP!”. We would all gasp and close our eyes very tightly, laying as silently as we could in case he came to check.

And when he did, those footsteps through the house lasted an eternity! Rebecca always gave us away, she was defiant from the start, and that still hasn’t changed about her.

My uncle’s name was John, and he had a tour in Vietnam when he was young, lost a best friend there. In the late 90’s when I was still too wrapped up in my own teenaged life to notice, my uncle started battling the big C. Cancer.

I didn’t really become cognizant of the battles he was going through until my son and I got our own place and I became much more involved with my family. (my marriage had isolated me from them).

I remember one year when my uncle was having a particularly hard time, and this was after battling cancer off and on for probably ten years or so, and he had indicated to the family that he didn’t want to fight it anymore. I was devastated, my uncle had been a deacon in mine and my sister’s baptisms and we all felt a closeness to him, almost like a father to us. My mother and I arranged to visit for a weekend and did, staying in a motel room and visiting with my Grandfather while we were in Oklahoma, where my uncle had settled.

After we came back home, I wrote my uncle a letter, and though I don’t recall everything that I said, I remember recording raw emotion and desperation like I’ve never felt before, pouring out of me into that letter. I wanted him to continue to fight, a big man such as he, a vehicle of God like himself, surely could push on and beat this, just around the next corner.

He continued to fight after that, and I wrote a few more letters to him, but increasingly his health got worse, and for most of the last I’ll say two years of his life, he was in declining health and leaving home less often.

In the spring of 2006 we buried my Uncle. It was a very hard time for our family and we’ve all struggled since that time to remain close and in touch, sometimes when family suffers a loss like this it’s hard to get together without thinking of those we’ve lost. My grandmother, who is a confirmed saint, had to bury her oldest son – and her best friend. I have a huge frog in my throat as I write this, it was an incredibly painful time for all of us.

Days like tomorrow remind me of him, and the Agent Orange that he was exposed to in Vietnam that eventually took his life. When I look at my cousin Rebecca it pains me to think about her having to continue her life without him in it, they always shared a closeness and a bond that was palpable to the rest of the family. I envied her relationship at times, as I didn’t have that kind with my own father.

I think about all the fathers and sons at war for our country right now and worry for them, praying to an unknown god that they will return to their families and enjoy a long and plentiful life.

This post is in memory of my Uncle, John Tuck, who fought and died for his country. I miss my uncle.

Pictured below: John & Rebecca Tuck.

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New Stuff and Overdue Thanks

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I’ve bought a few new domains. SabrinaMassey.com – currently set up for a school project and SabrinaMassey.info set up as a personal blog. Sort of an unplugged version of me.

It’s dark with a smidgen of pink and I’ve called it Sabrina Fair, after the play, woman of the world. I like that I have a rare name and it’s always kind of made me laugh that most people consider it a Hispanic name and expect me to be Hispanic. Kind of ironic just cuz I’m so pale, lol.

I wanted to take some time out and thank Wendy for her contributions every week to MouthyGirl.com – isn’t she awesome?!

I love her writing style, she is a true storyteller capable of bringing you right into her emotions and involving you in her point. Her posts reach out and grab you right through to the end and that’s what I’ve always liked about her writing.

I was selfish for a long time and kept her to myself on MySpace, where she blogs as well. If you ever want to see only her posts here, just click the category link above “Wendy’s Weekly Take”(<---or that one) and all her posts will show up for your reading pleasure. Eventually, I realized I had to share her and thankfully she was willing to guest post here, every Monday I'm anxious to be the first person to read her post for the week, it's one of the few treats I allow my nerdy self, lol. I'm privileged to be able to share her talent with you all and I'd love it if you have a favorite post of hers if you'd share that in the comments here. Thanks everyone, and thanks Wendy!

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How’d I Do?

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The most nagging thing about parenting, the scariest thing ever is wondering how I’m doing. I think we all ask ourselves questions as parents..

Am I screwing him up?
Did I just yell over something stupid? Is that ok?
Does he hate me?
Why doesn’t he talk to me?
He thinks I’m stupid doesn’t he?
Is he going to need therapy when he grows up?
Is he going to believe in therapy?
What if he turns into a Scientologist?!
Does he really like to look like a bum? Should I care?
If I don’t care will he have pride in his appearance later?
If I care too much will he be self absorbed later in life?
Is making him do chores really teaching him responsibility?
Should I ground him over his grades or just warn him to do better?
I know he hasn’t learned how to be a slob from me, is he going to outgrow this?
Is threatening to embarrass him in front of his friends him a bad motivation tactic?
Is he hungry or just bored?
Can growing boys eat too much?
Is he eating too much?
Is he eating enough?

It goes on and on and on from there too. It’s exhausting the things we think to ourselves about raising a child. What kinds of arbitrary things do you find yourself worrying about with your kids and your child rearing ability?

And hey, I wrote a post that’s been featured at MommyTalk.com – it won’t be featured here, I wrote it specifically for MT and it’s along these same lines, so read it! 🙂

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My Worst Fear Not Realized

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Usually my posts are about politics and current events, and I apologize in advance for this post if that is what you came to read. Last week, I didn’t follow the news and I suppose I have some catching up to do. But I spent the week caring for my mother, and she came first.

A few weeks ago, my mother called me and let me know that she had scheduled her surgery to have the tendon repaired that tore in her shoulder. I insisted she let me take her and I told her I’d even to take off a few days to help her while she recovered; and that there was no need for her husband to take off work, especially with possibility that his union would be striking soon.

When I took her in for her surgery Wednesday, I could tell she was a little a nervous about being put under anesthesia. Frankly, I was too. I’ve heard many stories about people going in to have a minor surgery and then die because of the anesthesia. I feared that could happen to her, especially since she has developed allergies to about a half a dozen medications through the years. One of the medications she developed an allergy to happened literally overnight. She was taking the medication fine for a week, and the next day she went into anaphylactic shock and was rushed into the emergency room. I feared that she would have some similar reaction to the cocktail of drugs they used to put her under.

She made it through the surgery fine, though, to my relief. Afterwards, I helped her get dressed and use the bathroom. Once the doctor released her, I carefully drove her home and got her into bed. I sat with her sometimes and just listened to her breathe, just to make sure. She was fine. She was going to be just fine.

The next day, she was complaining that she felt nauseous, but otherwise she was okay. She said the pain medication that the doctor prescribed was working well, and that today she felt like she could work in the rehabilitation chair that they delivered the day before.

I helped her take off her arm sling and helped her position her arm into the cradle that would mechanically lift her arm up and down. No sooner than I had gotten her strapped into the chair, she said, “Get me out of here, I need to throw up.” I tried to hurry to loosen the straps.

She said in almost a whisper, “Hurry, Wendy, I’m going to pass out”.

Just as I released the final strap, she slumped forward. I pushed her back into the chair and said, “Mom, wake up I got the chair unstrapped.” Then I looked at her face. I had seen that same face before in my first few years of college when I thought I was going to be a forensic pathologist in books I had checked out in the campus library. Her eyes were open, her jaw was lax and her tongue was distended just outside her mouth. She was pale, horribly pale. I had seen that expression on dozens of photos of post mortem patients. My mind started racing, “Oh my god, she died.”

“Mom!” I screamed. “Wake up! Please wake up!” I patted her face, “Mom, wake up please!” She didn’t respond. I reached for the phone, and tried to call 911. I misdialed, hung up, and then dialed again.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“It’s my mother, she had surgery yesterday..and she isn’t responding. Please send someone, please help me.”

The operator said expressionless, “okay ma’am, how old is your mother?”

“She’s 57. Please hurry!”

“Okay, ma’am I’m sending someone, is your mother breathing”

“No..wait, I don’t know. Hold on let me check”

I tilted her head forward and put her mouth next to my ear.

“Yes, she is breathing, thank God, but she won’t wake up”

The 911 operator sat with me on the phone for what seemed like an eternity giving me instructions, “Hold her forward, don’t let her fall out of the chair. Can you lie her down?”

“No, she’s in this chair, I can’t.”

Just then my mother took in a deep gasp and said, “I had a dream.”

“Ok, she’s awake. Mom, are you ok?”

“I need to lie down.” I helped her into bed and relayed what I was doing to the 911 operator.

Then she started vomiting, just as the EMS arrived. My mother apologized to them and to me for being such trouble. They reassured her that it was no trouble and not to worry about them.

They took her vitals and asked her a series of questions. They said she was okay, but she probably should get on a different pain medication. My mother refused to go to the hospital. The paramedic told me she will be okay, but to call again if anything happens.

After they left, I helped her change her clothes and wash up and I change the bed sheets. I paged her doctor to request a different medication. I got her back into bed, gave her a kiss and sat beside her until she drifted off to sleep.

And once she did, I cried and laughed. My worst fear was not realized. My mother was not dead, and she was still here. I let the tears run down my face as I listened to her breathe.

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