Lemons or Pie?

By Circe Olson Woessner

It is day three of teleworking from home, and day bazillion in the pre-or apocalyptic reality we find ourselves in. “Social distancing” is a new word that everyone knows and practices – – unless you’ve taken a devil-may-care attitude about this whole “hoax disease.” As we stay at home, we shake our heads at the images of young people frolicking on the beaches or having parties. Nero plays the violin as Rome burns. Look at Italy! Look at Italy!

A lot of people are scared and acting out – – I have heard of fights right here in our local supermarket—Really? Come on, for Pete’s sake! People are hording supplies and stocking up on ammo in “case of wide-spread panic.”

False information and far-fetched conspiracy theory opinions are being shared on social media as the gospel truth. People are sending along chain messages, and offering advice on really weird ways to prevent getting sick.  Forwarded emails from unknown “experts” are adding to the chaos. Memes and weird jokes are byproducts of how some people react to stress—and some of them are really, really funny – – unless you have someone who is elderly in your family, or who is sick, or someone who has, God forbid, recently died from COVID-19.

What messages are we sending to our children, who look for us to be calm in a time of crisis? What are we telling the elderly or immune compromised? Are we modeling desired behavior?

If someone coughs, or sneezes, we glare at them – – why are you doing that– are you sick? At the supermarket, we scan other people, looking for signs of disease on them. Why are you coming up my aisle? Wait till I’m done here! Shoppers are furtive, dashing through the aisles grabbing things as if it’s the end of the world.

Maybe it is.

Life as we know it has changed over  the past few weeks. Our dog has taken to sleeping with us, something forbidden up until a few weeks ago when he decided he preferred our bed to his. We laughed nervously saying, “well if something happens to us, at least he can eat us from the comfort of the bed.” Not very funny, but humor has taken an extremely dark turn these days…

Our society is self-isolated (another new word that everyone knows) and our workdays are very different than they were even a week ago. My extended family is keeping running shopping lists, knowing that it will be very hard to find the items we want, and while we will not succumb to hoarding, we understand that food shopping has become a scavenger hunt.

I feel I’m living in one of those science fiction movies or a really bad dream I can’t wake up from. This is no way to live. However; think of the alternative! Several months ago, this was a rhetorical question, but now, the alternative is hitting closer to home. And it’s not so hypothetical.

Wait!

… Just stop….breathe…Live in this particular moment. Take stock in your blessings right now.

In New Mexico the sun is shining, the trees are beginning to bud, and if you can slow your racing heartbeat, you can hear the birds sing. if you’re like me, and live near I-40, you can hear the hum of the interstate, of trucks bringing needed supplies to communities all across this country. The National Guard is setting up hospital tents; Airmen are stocking shelves at the Kirtland Air Force Base Commissary. Babies are being born; people are getting married. Life is still going on.

Over and over, I am drawn to the quote attributed to Mr. Rogers after 911.  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

And it’s very true. The military is calling up retired healthcare workers to join the fight against Covid-19. Federal employees are teleworking, ensuring that the nation doesn’t grind to a halt. Emergency responders and military  are rotating personnel to ensure there are enough healthy team members to respond to a national emergency or health crisis.

Stores are trying to accommodate the massive amount of shoppers panic buying, and setting up designated shopping times for people who are vulnerable. Utility companies are suspending disconnections and overdue accounts. Workers are pulling longer shifts to accommodate the requirements needed to get us through this crisis.

Impromptu support groups are starting on Facebook. Younger people are offering to run errands for older people. People are passing along local resources and information on store inventories and discounted places.

Neighbors are checking in on their neighbors; recently unemployed people are offering childcare services so that frontline staff who have to work, can get to their jobs at hospitals, supermarkets, emergency response centers, etc.

Even while under lockdown, the human spirit is strong.  Individuals – – common, everyday people – – are lifting the spirits of their fellow human being by leading them exercise sessions as they watch from balconies.  A military spouse in Germany serenaded her fellow base dwellers with her own funny versions of Andrew Lloyd Webber hits. A friend is reading poetry selections on Skype. Symphonies and theater companies are performing concerts or plays and streaming them free to the public. Companies are offering free educational products to parents who suddenly find themselves homeschooling their kids. (I tried to homeschool my son when he was nine and it didn’t end well for either of us– so hats off to every homeschool parent out there now trying to figure it out!) I’ve joined an online writer’s group with complete strangers from all over the world, and we are enjoying the creative company.

Last night, I watched a short YouTube video called “Isolated St. Patrick’s Day Parade” where people around the world, through the miracle of technology, were able to play one song from their homes—in Spain , the US, Ireland,  the UK  and Australia– in harmony and in sync. It was lovely and appropriately wonderful for a very unusual St. Patrick’s Day.

When this is all said and done, I’m hoping we have learned lessons as a society and can make our world safer, friendlier and better.

I never signed up to be dealing with COVID-19, but since I must, I have choices: I can panic and be mean and small, or I can take this lemon that I was given and make a big, beautiful meringue pie.

I choose the pie.


Caregivers Deserve to be Remembered

by Sue Pearson

As a caregiver and wife, I take care of a 100% disabled veteran husband (Tom) who proudly served our country for 24 years in the Air Force including serving in the Vietnam War who needs assistance with daily tasks, such as showering, administering medication, transportation to medical appointments and planning his day.  I am always thinking, what I need to do for the two of us?  He is a left leg amputee above the knee, caused from many health issues serving in the military. He is now retired.

As a caregiver, I fulfill many different roles: wife, friend, nurse, case manager, chauffeur, etc. so, I pray for God to give me wisdom to know which role to step into for the best care for every situation.

The demands of caring for a spouse can be overwhelming and builds stress with no end in sight.  There are times I have limited time and energy.  There are times my spouse becomes very irritable due to the pain or illnesses he suffers, which causes stress emotionally and physically on his body.

Caregivers need encouragement, inspiration, and faith to care for a loved one. When I feel overwhelmed, I turn to God and read Matthew 11: 28-30.

My spouse requires a lot of medical care.  He has gone through many surgeries, 3rd degree burns, speech, occupational and physical therapy, and even having cancer twice.

I always have to go and engage/fight for him, usually in a physician’s office or hospital, and help him through so many surgeries—and– even dying in December 2009, which God performed a miracle and brought him from being dead to living again.

It is difficult at times to try to keep up with the household chores, medical bills, plumbing issues, appliances breaking down, yardwork, food shopping, being a chauffeur, and sometimes, even burning the meals.

There are days I have no time for myself to relax or dedicate time to read God’s word or prayer time which causes bad or fearful thoughts.  I need to focus on prayers and think  about God’s gifts and promises, instead of our problems, which can be very difficult at times.   I have had to give up fun activities and time with friends and family to take care of my spouse.

As a caregiver for Tom, I find that it does affect me physically and emotionally. Also, as a caregiver, I sacrifice many social relationships and traveling with my spouse. That comes at a cost emotionally and I feel alone at times.

Furthermore, as a caregiver and wife, I feel guilty that I’m not doing enough for my spouse.  Still, I never think of myself as a caregiver.  I must trust in God above all else.  I couldn’t do this without God who calls us to care. Sometimes the medical conditions my spouse suffers from breaks my heart.

I must ask God to give me strength daily to care for Tom and rely on God’s power working through me instead of my own efforts.  We must trust God in every situation, which can be difficult at times while caring for one’s spouse.  I must aim to protect his dignity.  I must try to keep him active and engaged in activities which is very difficult due to his poor health.

I believe Tom paid a huge price in service of his country, but he has no regrets about serving his country.  It is an honor to take care of him, since we have been married for 41 years.  Caregivers are forgotten at times and need to be remembered.


The Separated Widow

JOYCE CARPENTER
Today we laid my 2nd husband to rest. It was a emotional time for me. So many things felt. It’s no secret that he had hurt us. Before the hurt there was friendship and love though. Who ever said there is a fine line between love and hate truly knew what they were talking about in this instance. I cried today for the man I once knew, that friend who once cared, the soldier who who served us all.Once again I received a flag with the thanks of our President and Nation for service. Once again I jumped at the first shots fired as the salute was led, just like I did when I said good bye to my Dad. The tears ran down my face wile my hand covered my heart as the bugler sounded taps . The young Soldier could feel my hands tremble as he placed our flag in my hands and knelt giving sympathy with his words and eyes as I sat alone.

In this moment I couldn’t tell you that the thoughts going through my head are totally clear. I can say I said my good byes and cried the tears I needed too. Not only did I say good bye but I also let go of pent up pains and hurt.

I forgave a long time ago , but held on to the hurt. Not something I recommend any one do.

Today I say a prayer for the other separated widows like me. May they find peace as they move forward with their lives. May God wrap them in his love and guide them and me to be more like him. Amen.


In Honor of the Ironing Board Brigade: THE SERVICE WIFE

Submitted by Marcia S Klaas, original author unknown

What is a service wife?? You might say the service wife is a bigamist, sharing her husband with another demanding entity called “DUTY”. When duty calls, she becomes wife number two. Until she accepts her competition, her life can be miserable.

Above all, she is womanly, although there are times she begins to wonder … Like the time when “HER” serviceman answers the call to duty, and she finds herself mowing the lawn. Then she suspects she is part male.

She usually comes in three sizes: Petite, plump, and more pleasingly plump. Amidst constantly changing settings, she finds it difficult to determine what her true size is.

A service wife is international. She may be an Iowa farm girl, a French mademoiselle, a Japanese doll, or an ex-Army nurse, but when discussing her problems with newly found friends, she speaks the same language and from the same general experience. Read the rest of this entry »


Memories of Mom in Post-War Germany

May 6th, 2016 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day–here’s a memory about an incredible military wife–and mom.

By James Kenderdine.

Postcards from when our family was stationed in Germany, 1947-1950. One of my last memories of Germany was when we were getting ready to leave in 1950, stopping on the Autobahn north of Frankfurt and getting out of the car to look south at what was left of the city. Rolling small hills (made of rubble) covered with grass and brush all the way to the center of the city. I could see the ruins of the cathedral in the center of the city from where I stood. When I stood in the same spot again in 1977, all I could see was the city that had been built since 1950, I could not see any part of the cathedral.

Our years in Germany shaped the lives of everyone in our family in ways that, 65 years later, my sister and I are still coming to understand and appreciate. My guess is that any spouse or brat who did not take the Army’s offer of evacuation during the Berlin Airlift feels that same. My mother said she was not leaving, that, in old army terms, “I can stay the winter, no matter how bad it is.” Watching her learn to shoot and MI carbine was fantastic, and to this day, I can still clearly see the image of her carbine, with a 20 round clip in it, round in the chamber, hanging by its sling next to her and dad’s bed. Read the rest of this entry »


The 1899 Yellow Fever Outbreak at Hampton

One hundred and sixteen (116) years ago, roughly 18 months before Dr. Walter Reed tested and proved Dr. Carlos Finlay’s theory for the cause of yellow fever, an outbreak of the disease took hold at the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers’ Southern Branch in Hampton, Virginia. The Hampton Roads region was quarantined for weeks in an effort to avert the diseases’ catastrophic spread.

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On July 29, 1899, Dr. Richard Vickery (left), surgeon at the National Home, sent a telegram to Dr. Walter Wyman, Surgeon General of the Marine Hospital Service office (part of Treasury), to request that an expert assess several suspicious cases of sickness at the Home. The Marine Hospital Service was the ancestral origins of the U.S. Public Health Service and employed the first federal public health officers who were tasked by Congress in 1878 with controlling epidemic diseases through quarantine, disinfection, and immunization programs.

Marine Hospital Service experts–including Dr. Eugene Wasdin, who two years later would try to save President McKinley when he was shot by an assassin–converged on the National Home and immediately determined that yellow fever was present. By August 1st, 1899, eight men had died. The Home was immediately quarantined and cordoned off from the rest of the community. Efforts to account for roughly 3,700 veterans began. They then quarantined most of the Hampton region—including Fort Monroe, Phoebus, Elizabeth City and Warwick counties–stopping rail and ship service to prevent further spread of the disease. Thousands of people and businesses in the region were affected.

Men who lived at the National Home were moved to temporary tents set up outside and disinfection of their quarters began as soon as the first barracks were vacated. Sixteen men, all soldiers of the Civil War, immunes, were employed to do the work. Three experienced immune disinfectors, more than 15 doctors, and nurses arrived to assist. Mattresses were burned while bed linens, floors and floors were disinfected with 1:500 bichloride of mercury solution. Rooms were made airtight as possible and fumigated with Sulphur or formaldehyde. The men were told to “sun and air their blankets and mattresses daily, retire early, avoid chilling their body, avoid night air, avoid getting fatigued. . . avoid intemperance, and wear wet handkerchief or tree leaves in hat when exposed to the sun.” Read the rest of this entry »


Give me gratitude or give me debt

So I read this article from momastery.com, and I reflect that one time in Camp Lejeune, I posted a video of the kid next door being silly– and everyone commented on my kitchen –because I filmed it standing in my kitchen.  Now before I hear your mind judging why I was video recording my next door neighbor’s kid?  Let me explain.  Nothing creepy – It’s just that it was hard to not notice that he spins, every day in the driveway, he just goes out there and stands in one place and spins and spins, and well, he just looked so happy!  I can’t remember when I was that happy doing anything.

After I posted the short clip of the happy spinning kiddo my friends were like – OMG your kitchen is so cluttered!

– What all that crap on your counters and blab, blab?  Are those the pots you had from college? And I was like — Really!  And then, of course, my husband agreed which made me even madder. I eventually got so mad, that I deleted that post and threw away Everything in my kitchen– and I mean everything– silverware , pots pans, and all the decorations that everyone couldn’t help but complain about – cluttered!  I will show them I thought –

So we bought new dishes from the PX and new pots and pans, and mom gave me new silverware— spending money on better stuff didn’t help at all– and I missed all my cutesy fun crap.  Then my hubby and I went to war over cutesy crap.  I mean it’s not my fault that I can buy lots and lots for same cost as say 1 guitar so by perspective – he has 1 thing and I have 100 smaller things — Not my fault that his stuff costs so much–  Read the rest of this entry »