Mother Goose Joins the Navy (kind of…)

Mother Goose was so enthralled with the sailor recruits who she entertained on Thanksgiving that she decided it was time for her to join the Navy. Unfortunately, they would not accept her enlistment…because of her flat and rubbery feet.

However, the good news is that she has found employment — true employment including a paycheck — and it involves helping Navy families who have special needs children. A perfect place for Mother Goose to be! I’m not afraid to tell you that I prayed and prayed for months for a job like this one!

Of course, my dear and loyal readers know that Mother Goose has been volunteering with a new division of Easter Seals these past six months — a department devoted to helping veterans and military families — a population group near and dear to her heart obviously.

military-family

Well, with the New Year, came a new program — a respite care program for these special Navy families in our area. We are near the Great Lakes Navy Base (where the charming young recruits came from!) and that makes Easter Seals perfectly positioned to help.

These families have special needs children ranging broadly across the spectrum — anywhere from high-functioning autism children to deaf children to wheelchair-bound children with severe disabilities. Our program provides up to forty hours of FREE respite care each month to qualifying families. We find those specially trained and certified caregivers who have hearts to spend time with special children — staying with these kiddos in their homes and engaging them while mom and dad take a break.

Easter Seals partners with Child Care Aware of America to recruit these care providers. The Navy pays for the care, and Mother Goose makes sure that everybody is happy and compatible and coordinated together.

What a perfect occupation for this goose!

Ohhhh the United States Navy — a powerful and global force for good. I may not see the world from the deck of a world-class aircraft carrier, but I will definitely see the smiling faces of Navy parents who are allowed to take off for a couple of hours to see a movie, have a peaceful dinner alone or just stroll hand in hand through the park knowing that their child(ren) are safely and lovingly cared for.

And if you know anyone in the Chicagoland area who is qualified and interested in applying for these positions (Respite Care Providers), please contact us at The Willett Center (708-524-8700). They can ask for either Laura or Natalie. Mother Goose is currently working incognito at this location…

Advertisements

Sons of the Goose Meet Lincoln Nation

We have certainly enjoyed the month of November, a month to recognize and celebrate military families across our country. Of course, Mother Goose has taken full advantage of this time to tell the story of how our particular family became associated with the military.

With two years of training safely tucked under their belts, the twin sons of Mother Goose were ready to be assigned to a ship in the greatest Navy in the world, a Navy which is a Global Force for Good.

And we all wondered….would they continue to serve together or would they be split up and sent to different ships, perhaps even to opposite sides of the country or to different places in the world. Would one brother be sent to a ship whose port was on the East Coast and the other sent to the West Coast? Would they be attached to submarines (oh dear…) or to aircraft carriers? Both vessel-types operate on nuclear power, but which would it be?

The Navy does ask their sailors which they would prefer, subs or carriers. They also ask your preference of ports. And then they go ahead and make their own decisions which basically have nothing to do with your personal preferences.

“Because it’s the military, Mom.”

Yes, of course.

Strangely, nobody asked the guys if they wanted to be stationed together anywhere. Maybe nobody in high command knew they were related, let alone identical twin brothers.

ANYWAY, the word finally came down and it was a good word.

The two petty officers would be both attached to the powerful and mighty aircraft carrier, The USS Abraham Lincoln.

USS Abraham Lincoln, named for the favorite president of Mother Goose.

USS Abraham Lincoln, named for the favorite president of Mother Goose.

Yes, Mother Goose jumped for joy and flapped her wings in a great display of thanksgiving that her sons would not be separated but would serve America side by side on a beautiful ship ABOVE the water.

And off they flew to Norfolk, Virginia and then to Newport News, Virginia.

The USS Abraham Lincoln was commissioned on November 11, 1989 and has been in active service around the world since that time. It is a nuclear-powered vessel — a Nimitz-class carrier with two reactors onboard. It’s length is 1,092 feet and when fully boarded, it has a population of about 5,000 people. WOW!

The ship came home to port in the fall of 2012 for its half-life refuel and complex overhaul. My sons were on the ship when it was brought up the James River from Norfolk to Newport News earlier this year and hauled into drydock there. The RCOH (refueling and complex overhaul) will take nearly four years.

The ship pulls into the drydock area in Newport News, Virginia.

The ship pulls into the drydock area in Newport News, Virginia.

So the guys got a really nice apartment together, and everyday they go to work at the ship, working with all the other sailors and contractors to get the ship ready for the rest of its life. The culture of a drydocked ship’s sailors is basically one of working and serving and playing together. There is certainly a sense of teamwork and even family. Each individual is important in the grand scheme of things — each person’s work has purpose and meaning.

Mother Goose is proud to say that her sons did receive a bit of recognition for their “twinity” — the ship’s public affairs officer found out they were twins serving together and interviewed them for a news article which was then published in the Penny Press, the newsletter for Lincoln Nation and families of the sailors.

Yes, Mother Goose was completely bursting her buttons with pride when she found out!

And then our local newspapers found out about the Penny Press article and ran their own local articles in the western suburbs of Chicago where my guys are from. Pictures and publicity for my precious sailor sons — can it even get any better in the life of a Navy mom?

Working together for Uncle Same and the Lincoln Nation.

Working together for Uncle Sam and the Lincoln Nation.

My sons may never get out to sea on the USS Abraham Lincoln — their term of service will expire before the ship is sent back out into the briny waves, protecting our freedoms and keeping us safe around the world. I would hope that they might be standing at the rails when she leaves Norfolk again for great adventures abroad, but if they are the sailors who refueled her and gave her a mighty makeover and never sailed with her, then I will stand proud of them for their service.

Flapping and honking with great pride, and with wings lifted in great Thanksgiving, Mother Goose wishes you a wonderful and warm holiday wherever you are and whoever you are with today. Hugs all around!

Navy Nukes

November is Military Family Appreciation Month!

And because it is and because we are, Mother Goose shall now continue her story of how her family became a military family…

Two guys who look and dress alike.

Two guys who look and dress alike.

After those sailor sons graduated from “boot camp” at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in March 2011, they immediately flew away to North Carolina. This is the place where seamen who have achieved high scores on their military service aptitude tests go to learn their trade in the field of nuclear science.

Their first training is in “A” School which is basic electricity and electronics. At this time, the sailor sons of Mother Goose also achieved the rank of Petty Officers Third Class (and a sweet pay increase, I might add)! They lived on base in Goose Creek and after their daily work was done, they could go fishing or go to the beach or hang out with all the other sailors.

It was really fun!

The whole family with the sailors in Charleston at Patriots' Point to tour the retired aircraft carrier USS Yorktown and retired submarine, USS Clamagore in June 2011.

The whole family with the sailors in Charleston at Patriots’ Point to tour the retired aircraft carrier USS Yorktown and retired submarine, USS Clamagore in June 2011.

“Power” school follows after “A” School where the classes get a lot more technical and they specifically learn how nuclear reactors work. At this point in their training, they stopped explaining to Mother Goose what they were learning… Needless to say, it was over the head of Mother Goose.

The guys spent about seventeen months in Goose Creek, and then were transferred to upstate New York where they began their prototype training. Mother Goose knows absolutely NOTHING about this phase of Navy Nuke training, except to say that they actually worked on live nuclear reactors. They learned how to start them up, keep them running and how to shut them down.

Wow!

In their spare time, they enjoyed mountain climbing, weekend trips to NYC, ski trips to New Hampshire and also betting on the horses at Saratoga Springs.

On top of Stone Mountain in New York

On top of Stone Mountain in New York

So far, the Navy life sounds pretty darn good to Mother Goose!

However, the prototype training does now “stand down” for the holidays. My sons were not able to come home and join the family for Thanksgiving, their birthdays OR for Christmas in 2012. The salty tears rolled down the feathery cheeks of Mother Goose as she packed goodie box after goodie box for her sailors. How could we make this Christmas holiday a little cheerier for the homesick fellows?

AHA! A light bulb over the head of Mother Goose!

She contacted EVERYBODY she knew who cared about Adam and Erik — AND anybody who cared about the troops — AND anybody who was breathing.

“Could you please send my sailor sons a Christmas card to let them know they are not alone and SURELY not forgotten this Christmas time?”

And SO many people, friends and even strangers sent them Christmas cards until the mailman almost had a heart attack carrying the heavy load to their apartment building! Cards, letters, goodie boxes, treats, cookies and candies all piled up from folks around the country to wish them a Merry Christmas and cheer their hearts.

A pretty nice bunch of Christmas cards.

A pretty nice bunch of Christmas cards.

Finally in February of 2013, the young sailors graduated from “prototype” and were allowed a 30-day leave of absence to go home or wherever they choosed to roam. Happily for Mother Goose, they did choose to come home!

All together again in February 2013.

All together again in February 2013.

The Sailors Finally Emerge from Boot Camp

After eight weeks of basic training, rampant colds and flu, boot camp chow, marching, homesickness, Navy orders and rules and regulations, the sons of Mother Goose graduated from Great Lakes Naval Training Center. No longer to be referred to as recruits — now they were sailors in the greatest navy in the world, a global force for good!

The graduation ceremony is the most wonderful event in a proud Navy mom’s life — the pomp, the circumstance, the flags, the marching bands, the precision drill teams, and that moment when a son is spotted on the marching field with his division.

As they come marching into the grand arena, all the families and friends in the grand stand are cheering for their sailors. It’s a roar of joy, a proud moment that stays with you forever.

Ohhh my gooseness, I nearly swooned with pride at both of the boys’ ceremonies. And the tears of joy to see that “Yes, they survived!”

The sailors stand at attention for nearly an hour whilst activities and speeches ramble on and on. Finally the “liberty bell” rings and the sailors are free to reconnect with their people — dear readers, it is total pandemonium and general chaos as the uniformed and capped sailors suddenly leap into the air and begin to search the crowds for their moms. And of course, their dads…

And then we are all reunited and joys and kisses and hugs all around for everybody.

Of course, the guys look rather sickly and pale from weeks of little sleep and community virus-sharing and endless training. But oh, they are smiling.

And oh, they look so much older — almost like men.

Well, yes, I will say it — my sons were now men.

Oh happy day!

232

233

259

Graduation Day

262

Letters from Boot Camp

We waited and waited by the mailbox for a letter from the guys. Day after day Mother Goose would run out to meet our mail carrier, Miss Nell. “Have you got anything for me from Great Lakes, IL?”

“No, sorry, Miss Goose. Nothing for you today but some bills, I guess. Keep hoping…”

And Mother Goose did a whole bunch of hoping. And praying.

When the recruits first arrive at boot camp, they do a lot of hurrying up and waiting. In fact, we witnessed that at the MEPS when we were there for the swearing in ceremonies as well. That seems to be the only way to move large groups of young men and women in a timely manner! Hurry them up and then have them wait. A long time.

Also, as soon as they unload from the bus at Boot Camp, they step into pre-painted yellow foot tracks painted on the floor and they stay in those yellow tracks until all intake processing is completed. They are kept awake doing various processing activities for at least the first forty hours of basic training. After that they are allowed a three hour nap and then it’s back to processing.

One of the first things they do is change out of their civilian clothes and into their first military uniforms. Their old civvie clothes are dropped into a box and shipped back home. They WON’T need them anymore. The Navy supplies everything they need from skivvies to socks to eye glasses to boots.

And omigooseness those nice boots! No wonder they call it “boot camp” — they are measured very accurately for custom boots — interiors even molded to their exact feet! They are very fine boots for the recruits to wear day and night.

The recruits are also allowed a phone call upon their arrival at Great Lakes Naval Training Facility. They stand in line for a long time (of course), and when it is their turn to call, they dial up mom and dad (hoping that somebody will answer the phone because they only get one chance at this), they read the script which is posted on the wall.

“Hi Mom, this is _________. I just want you to know that I made it to basic training. I hope you are doing OK. I’m fine. I love you. Bye.”

Click.

So we wrote them letters and waited for letters. There is no other way to contact recruits at basic training unless you have a true, DIRE emergency in which case you call the Red Cross and they will find your son or daughter. A weeping mother or sobbing father is not necessarily considered a DIRE emergency.

Great Lakes Large Letter CTPA_OCH1856

Finally the first letter! Here’s a short excerpt from Adam’s first letter home:

“…so anyway bootcamp is pretty high-stress…our RDC’s get mad at us because we don’t work as a team. The recruit leaders (RCPO) are stupid though because all they do is tell us to shut up. Like that’s some leadership skills…There is so much swearing also but I was surprised by how much. The RDCs swear the most but I think they just act mean because they can be nice too. But that’s their way of training…”

And here’s something from Erik’s letter:

“We learned how to make our beds and we get timed to do it and have to follow a bunch of guidelines. It’s hard but I think I’m getting better…the first day or two I didn’t like the food very much but now I’m starting to love it. I’m kind of losing track of days and was surprised when I found out today was Sunday…”

Another excerpt from Adam about a week later:

“Dear Mom, Hello! I can’t write much tonight because I have watch from 2-4 so I need to get some sleep. But I just wanted to tell you that I’m having a really good time becoming a sailor…”

After a week, Erik wrote to us:

“Dear Family, Greetings from Great Lakes! First of all I want to say that I love you all and miss you guys more everyday…So what have I been doing for the past week and a half or so…labeling shirts, shorts, bags, towels, hats, coats, gloves and way more. Learning how to fold all of it and where to put it. I also went through medical, got a pair of stylish glasses and wow I didn’t realize my eyes were getting so bad!”

From Adam:

“Mom — We got mail for the first time last night. When I heard my name get called it felt like Christmas all over again. I couldn’t help but smile as I went to pick up the mail. By far, getting your letter has been the highlight of my week so far, which has so far consisted mostly of sitting around studying and getting snowed in. There were snow drifts that looked at least 10 feet high and no one was allowed to leave or come to the base.”

As the weeks went by, the guys wrote more and more about their activities and things they were learning to do — marching, marching, marching and swimming and shooting guns and saluting and more marching. And even though they were both on base at the same time and occasionally saw each other marching around, they never got to talk to each other until finally one Sunday in the chapel towards the end of their boot camp experience.

Imagine that reunion!

And then it was time for Graduation from basic training, a story in itself. Please come back next time when Mother Goose continues this special series about our experience as a military family! Remember, November is Military Family Appreciation Month! Hug a Navy mom today! Honk honk!!!

Swearing Like Sailors

November is Military Family Appreciation month so Mother Goose is telling the story of her twin sailor sons and how our family got all military when they joined the United States Navy.

The military has very specific orders for how families send their sons and daughters off to boot camp. We followed the instructions very carefully for both of the guys — one week we sent Adam away and then seven days later, we went through the process again with Erik.

There is a very secret place called the MEPS.

This is one of the first of many acronyms that parents of military personnel become aware of. It stands for Military Entrance Processing Station. The night before they went to the MEPS, we dropped off our guys at a nearby hotel with absolutely nothing except their ID’s and the clothes on their backs — no jammies, no toothbrushes, no phones, no ipods, no ipads, not even a change of undies or socks.

They spend the night mostly worrying about the next five or six years of their lives.

Even though they haven’t slept, people come around and wake them up at 5:00 for an early breakfast and a bus ride to the MEPS. The family drives to the MEPS too, and enters through much security in the hopes of see their son or daughter being sworn into service in our nation’s great military community.

There are uniformed officers, soldiers and sailors everywhere in the MEPS. For our family, we had never seen so many people in military uniforms, and we were very uneasy. We have always been a family who doesn’t break the rules and this looked VERY seriously like a place where you don’t want to break the rules. We are all very intimidated by people in uniforms…maybe it’s because of the many times Mother Goose has had run ins with the law.

ANYWAY, we eventually find Adam, and the next week we find Erik in the same place.

Adam raises his right hand and swears the Oath of Enlistment.

Adam raises his right hand and swears the Oath of Enlistment.

Erik repeats the Oath of Enlistment one week later.

Erik repeats the Oath of Enlistment one week later.

We stand quietly in a room where the guys are sworn in with bunches of other recruits. Proud tears roll down my feathery cheeks as I see my sons raise their right hands and repeat the Oath of Enlistment:

“I, Adam or Erik, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Mother Goose poses with her son.

Mother Goose poses with her son.

Mother Goose poses with her son.

Mother Goose poses with her son.

We clap and cheer. We dab tissues at our eyes. We take pictures of ourselves with our precious ones in front of the Navy flag. Then we hug them and kiss them. Then we say “See you in eight weeks, honey. I love you!”

And off they go to boot camp.

Military Family Appreciation Month

Mother Goose is happy and proud to announce that November is Military Family Appreciation Month all across America!

Military Family Appreciation Month

And so, because I am such a proud and patriotic goose, I will be featuring a different military family to salute for each time that I post up in November. [I was going to say “everyday in November” but you know that Mother Goose just cannot make those kinds of daily promises…]

And because I’m a rather self-promoting goose, for this first post in November, I will feature and salute my own family!

Honestly, when my twin sons announced to me in 2010 that they would be joining the service, my heart stopped and my face fell. They completely blindsided me! What were they thinking? Would they be OK? How would I live without daily contact with my young sons?

Our family was going through such a crisis at the time. Their father and I had divorced, and I was planning to remarry and move the kids to a new place of residence in a distant village. We were facing major upheavals in every corner of our world. The guys had completed nearly two years of college, and I was just assuming stability — that they would continue down that educational path.

“Mom, I’m going to join the service,” Erik’s voice still echoes around in my feathery head.

There was a scared and shocked look spreading from my face to all the rest of my motherly body but my immediate answer was this: “Well, please not the Marines or the Army…maybe the Coast Guard or the Navy would be OK?”

A week later, Adam said to me, “Well, of course, I’m joining the Navy too, Mom!”

And that’s how our military family story began.

The guys had a delayed enlistment into boot camp so for the next eight months they met frequently with their recruiter for physical training sessions as well as some good ol’ Navy background informational meetings.

And then we started to have “Going Away Parties” for the guys.

Goodbye Party

And then the day came when Adam had to leave for Basic Training…

We had been prepared for separation anxiety, but nothing prepared me for the sight of him walking away from our car and into his future as a sailor in the greatest Navy in the world.

There were tears galore.

In all of our eyes.

And then one week later, we dropped off Erik at the same location, and the tears started up all over again.

Tomorrow I will tell you the little story about how our family became military — twin sons at Naval Station Great Lakes for eight weeks will do that to you.

The Grand Navy Adventure Continues…

The helo blades are whirring and the engines are roaring overhead. You can feel and smell the sea air out on the Persian Gulf. There is action, there is adrenaline, there is danger all around.

Change course to Aide to the Admiral. Lt. Branden Marty is now a decorated administrator surrounded by high-level brass in Washington and anywhere else in the world where Admiral Girrier has to be.

Focus your attention next to San Diego, and you’ll see Lt. Marty and his beautiful bride are now the proud parents of THREE little sailors — a daughter and twin sons. Those must have been some pretty amazing “Welcome Home” events for the young Lieutenant!

The next assignment for Branden brought him and his surprisingly large family back to the Midwest where he worked as a non-medical care manager for Navy Wounded Warrior — Safe Harbor at Naval Station Great Lakes.

He is quickly promoted to Lieutenant Commander!

Branden at Navy Safe Harbor

Branden at Navy Safe Harbor

Again, this sailor is too humble to tell his story, but one wounded warrior, Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class John Dusseau, told it for us and here’s a quote from HIS story:

My Navy Wounded Warrior โ€“ Safe Harbor non-medical care manager Lt. Cmdr. Branden Marty saved my life.

Lt. Cmdr. Marty tracked me down about six months after my diagnosis. He reminded me that I was still a Sailor; the Navy still cared about me. He called before and after my chemotherapy sessions, and he often visited me at home. In between swapping sea stories, he answered my questions and helped put my mind at ease. He chased down much-needed benefits for my family. His guidance and compassion encouraged me to keep fighting, reminding me that it isnโ€™t over yet.

Remembering the original pact with his wife, Stephanie, to devote ten years to his naval career and then to focus the next chapter of their marriage on her career, Branden left active Navy service this past year. He is now in the operations/management department of the Association of Medical Pathologists in Northfield, Illinois.

He enjoys this new and challenging position in the health care industry, but I have a feeling that he still looks forward to those weekends when he joins he other salty dogs serving in the Navy Reserves.

Finally Mother Goose shook the amazement out of her head and asked that one burning question:

“Branden, after all of these years in the Navy and all of these great adventures, which would you say is the greatest adventure that you’ve had?”

With only a three-second pause, he replied, “The greatest adventure I’ve had started on the road trip from Florida to San Diego after I got “winged” and “married” within one week. The journey to San Diego with Stephanie was my greatest adventure of all.”

Lt. Cmdr. Branden Marty and his wife, Stephanie.  Can we altogether say "awwww".  :-D

Lt. Cmdr. Branden Marty and his wife, Stephanie. Can we altogether say “awwww”. ๐Ÿ˜€

A Grand Navy Adventure

Mother Goose finally caught up with her friend, Lt. Cmdr. Branden Marty. We had met exactly one year ago at this very same table at this very same Corner Bakery… Of course, his eyes are still intensely blue and his smile flashes like lightning over our morning coffee. We talked of days gone by, the present challenges in his life and the exciting days to come.

US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Branden Marty in his civilian wardrobe.

US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Branden Marty in his civilian wardrobe.

“Just call me Branden,” he insisted when we met last year. His humility is only eclipsed by his great love of his wife and children.

But the adventures of this sailor extend around the world and span more than a decade of service to our nation. Branden stepped into his grandfather’s boots after graduating from Michigan State with his degree in history and his diploma in his hand. During his 24-year career in the Army Air Corps and the U.S. Air Force, Branden’s grandfather flew the amazing old B-26 cargo planes during the Second World War across the Pacific Ocean and around the globe.

Branden heard his grandfather’s stories and was naturally inspired to apply to the ROTC program while at Michigan. He applied to Navy flight school in Pensacola, Florida after graduation and was naturally accepted. But flight school meant leaving the love of his life behind in Michigan for two years while he earned his “wings”…

Six days after he was “winged”, Branden and Stephanie were married and journeyed from Pensacola to San Diego where he was assigned to a helicopter squadron. Branden and Stephanie made a pact of love and respect. They decided that Branden’s Navy career would be the focus for the first ten years of their marriage and after that time, the focus would shift to Stephanie’s career in the wine industry.

His first deployment took the young pilot from the arms of his bride to the country of Somalia and the Persian Gulf. For six and one half months, he flew missions in this danger zone of the world, defending the seas from pirates and terrorists.

Mother Goose can only imagine the welcome home party when this young lieutenant and his squadron returned to San Diego!

And then another deployment came up — this time to the Pacific Ocean, to support the marines and army of the Philippines in Mindanao. Six months later, another wonderful welcome home party for this couple.

His next assignment, a shore billet, was less adrenaline and more operational and managerial. Because Branden is so humble, he doesn’t brag about these great career events, but Mother Goose will gladly brag about him. Branden was assigned the duty of Aide to Rear Admiral Robert P. Girrier. In the U.S. Navy, this is a very big deal! This job requires you to handle most if not all of the admiral’s personal and administrative affairs. Branden was the perfect choice for this position.

The Admiral and the Aide.  Circa 2009. Photo courtesy hartshorn.us

The Admiral and the Aide. Circa 2009. Photo courtesy hartshorn.us

Please come back next time to hear what the young lieutenant did next in his Navy career!

Incredibly Strong Army Mom

Less than two months ago, Mother Goose received a request for a Blue Star Banner from a mom in Missouri named Kathy. Her Army son had recently been deployed to Afghanistan, and her daughter is an active Army Reservist. I dressed up the two-starred service flag with some pretty gold fringe as I always do and shipped it out via priority mail. The standard operating procedure for my organization — we send them out with a prayer that this family will be well and that their service member will be safe and sound.

Kathy with Mary and Matt.

Kathy with Mary and Matt.

Several days later I heard from Kathy again that she had received my package and was most grateful for the banner and had hung it in her front window for all the world to see.

Kathy's Two Star Banner

And then these heartbreaking words: “My time is short so I am trying to get all I can in before the end. I am in the end stages of COPD and I have tumors in my lymph lodes in my neck that I am going to the doctor to check tomorrow. I live on oxygen 24/7 and go NO where. I am getting a home health nurse next week because I cant even cook, shower, clean or do my laundry. So that will be a blessing. So THANK YOU for helping me.”

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is associated with chronic bronchitis and emphysema — it works painfully in the lungs, slowly reducing lung function and oxygen saturation in the body.

In the weeks since, Kathy and I have written back and forth frequently. Her most fervent prayer request was that she’d see her son one more time in this life. Kathy is an amazing woman of faith — she believes in the power of prayer and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. She is at peace with her situation and looking forward to an eternity in paradise.

But if only her body could hold on for a couple more months when Matthew was scheduled to come home from his deployment. The doctors have given Kathy 6-12 weeks to live. With hospice care now in place, Kathy continued to pray for her son’s safety and his return home to her arms. Her note from June 4th: “I am getting ready for hospice to come in……just got to make it a couple more months till my son gets home.”

This past Saturday evening at 9:38 pm, Matthew walked through the doors of his dear mama’s home, surprising her with a great big smile on his face. Thanks to the American Red Cross for making the arrangements for his return! Prayers answered! He will be home for the next two weeks, and this mother celebrates with that mother for the delicious joy of seeing a son’s face when she wakes up in the morning.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I read what Kathy wrote to me this morning: “My dear Blue Star family, I am so going to miss you all so much, please go to the “Mother of Deployed soldiers” group and there is so much support there also. I lived daily laughing, crying, reading, and responding while I was able to. It was a group effort to keep me going all this time. I would have never made it without all of you during this time. I am going to miss all of you, and I will be watching over everyone and waiting for all you to join me next to the Lord one of these days. Keep sending prayers, cards, and any help if you can help my children in burial expense because I have no health insurance or life insurance. God Bless you all and watch over you and your family and your soldiers. Love to all, Kathy”

Dear readers, please pray for Kathy. If you’d like to cheer her with a card or help with her final expenses, please send me an email at ncramer1216@gmail.com and I will share her address.

My final thoughts on this amazing woman: the love of a mother is so powerful and the faith of this particularly special mother is beyond my understanding. We all go through trials of many types and levels requiring much patience and persistence in prayer. We all have our own packages of suffering and joy co-mingled in our daily lives. Kathy Jenne has touched my heart so deeply though I’ve known her less than two months — I realize that we all have an obligation to love one another regardless of the length of our friendship or acquaintance, regardless of our geographic locations, regardless of our busy-ness.

I have seen pictures that Kathy has taken in the past two days — pictures of friends helping to move her bed into the living room where she can see out the window, friends gathering around her, making her good meals and sitting together visiting, pictures of her handsome soldier son laying across her bed with his face smiling into hers. These are the pictures of love — these are the images of a life well-spent in loving one another.

I guess this is why I’m so passionate about military families and our brave troops and Blue Star Banners — these connections are vital to the hearts and well-being of Army moms and Navy moms and Marine moms and Air Force moms and Coast Guard moms. I will continue my mission of making those connections, inspired by the faith and love of an incredible mom in Missouri.

God bless you today! With love, Mother Goose