Memorial Day ~ Men and Women ~ Honor Them All

Not going to a party today.  Spent this morning watching some videos and reading personal accounts from families who lost loved ones.  My deep thanks to all who have lost their lives so that I and future generations may live free.  My prayers for comfort to their families.

A lot of men and women in my family, and in my late husband’s family, served the United States proudly.  Thankfully, none of them were killed in war.  They came home from war, raised families, and contributed mightily to these United States.  They were the salt of the earth.  All but one have passed away.

My great great grandfather fought in the Civil War for the Union Army as a member of the Cavalry.

My grandfather fought in Europe during World War I, in the Army.  One of his legs was injured so badly that the doctors wanted to amputate his right leg.  He told them no.  He also told them that, if he woke up without a leg, he would shoot all of them.  He woke up with a leg.  He walked with one stiff leg for the rest of his life.

My Father, and both of his brothers, fought in the Pacific Theatre during World War II, for the Coast Guard & Navy.  My Father started out riding a horse and patrolling the coast of Florida.  Soon, all 3 of them wound up in the Pacific for most of  World War II.  They were involved in the reconstruction of Japan.  They sent a set of dishes to their mother (my grandmother) while rebuilding Japan.   My grandmother gave that set of dishes to me when I got married.  I cherish that set of china to this day, but only bring it out on Christmas.

My father-in-law also served in the Army, World War II.  He was the engineer and mechanic that kept the tanks rolling when they bogged down in northern Africa.  Among other things.  He was a genius, with a high school education.  My dear father-in-law came home to work for the “Skunk Works” at Lockheed and helped develop the SR71.

Let’s talk about the ladies.  My mother was basically Rosie the Riveter.  My mother-in-law did office work at the Port of Los Angeles.  Both women, who were very young at the time, stepped up to the plate.  I think most young people during that time stepped up to the plate.

There you have it.  None of them died in battle.  All of them served.  Only one remains:  my mother-in-law.  She is 85.

My father passed away a few years ago.  He always loved life, especially after what he saw during war.  Daddy’s favorite thing was to get his kids and grandkids over, grill some steaks or burgers, and make Caesar Salad.

I’ll give you the recipe for Caesar Salad tomorrow.

Again, to all who have made the ultimate sacrifice, from the Revolutionary War to today … THANK YOU.

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Grief ~ Death of a Spouse

Today would be my late husband’s birthday.  Ray Uhler 5/18/1948 ~ 9/18/2007.  Here he is, when we were very young:

My Ray is the tall, blond guy.  It’s a promo picture for the play Hair (Los Angeles).  Ray played the part of Woof.

Ray was much more than an actor/singer/songwriter.  He was a gifted carpenter and spent most of his life as a residential remodeling contractor.   

He was my husband, my best friend, and a devoted father to our son.  He could come home from an arduous day on one of his construction sites, sweep me off my feet while I was cooking dinner, dance me around the house, dance me back into the kitchen, and help me finish cooking dinner.  Then he spent time with our son, reading and playing games.

Today is his birthday.  People tell me I should be over it after the 2-1/2 years since his passing.  I’m not over it.  Yes, I take care of our son (he was just accepted to UCLA and UC-Berkeley), take care of business, keep a clean house, have lunch with friends, even have taken a couple of vacations.

I have zero interest in dating.  I will never marry again.  Of course, those people have never lost a spouse, never lost their best friend.  Yes, I still grieve.  Especially today.  I don’t grieve all day every day, but I grieve today.

Personally, I think that’s healthy.

Happy Mother’s Day ~ Best Mother’s Day Surprise

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers out there.  I hope you had a lovely day with family and friends.

Yellow roses were one of my Mother’s favorite flowers.  She passed on a few years ago at the young age of 79.  She was one of my best friends.  I miss her terribly.  Her name was Ellen.

This was the best Mother’s Day I’ve had in many years since my husband became ill and passed away a few years ago.  My son always writes me a letter every year, buys a lovely card and some grocery store flowers (all he can afford … he just turned 20).  Don’t get me wrong; I have always loved the heart he put into Mother’s Day as a teenager, especially after what happened to his Father.  This year, he cooked up a surprise.  With some help.

He announced at 9:00 A.M. this morning that guests were coming over and I should be ready to go to brunch by 11:00 A.M.  He wouldn’t tell me who was coming or where we were going.  I assumed it would be the gang of college kids who practically live here, with whom he studies, and who don’t live close to their mothers or grandmothers.

My apartment is usually a wreck … college kids eating and studying and making a mess.  Still, he wouldn’t tell me who was coming, and I got nervous.  Quickly made a quick clean up of the front of the apartment.  I actually did the 5 minute face of make-up instead of the 1 minute face of lotion and chapstick.  Put on the most decent clothes I have that were actually clean.

I figured these kids could pool enough money for brunch, but that it probably wouldn’t be a fancy restaurant, so I went sorta dressy casual clothes-wise.

Then, a bit of panic set in.  I thought:  What if it isn’t just the kids?  What if a parent comes?  Am I going to be embarrassed that kids study all over the place and it’s not immaculate?  Finally, I had to let it go and let it be.

Then, the “guests” came.  There have been a lot of deaths in my family during the last 5 years.  We get together for funerals and depressing things.  Then we drift away.  Today, members of my family came from different parts of the state.  My 20 year-old son certainly didn’t get this together by himself.  My cousin really got it together.

I opened my apartment door, and family members that I didn’t expect to see walked in.  We went to a sushi restaurant that my son planned.  We also went to a great place for awesome chocolate.  We laughed.  We took pictures.  We hugged and kissed each other.

It was a beautiful Mother’s Day.  The best I’ve had since I can’t remember.

Moral of this story?  A big family can go through years of  living physically away from each other, illness, death, raising teenagers, getting a little disconnected for a time.  At the end of the day, we are family.  We ROCK.

Anyway.  I’m a happy Mom today.  I so love my son.  I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday.  I love my family.  I am a blessed woman today.

I hope every mother on the planet had at least a little something that made her heart sing.  I know a lot of mothers didn’t have a lovely experience like I did.

I love you all, ladies.