Heroes…

A few years ago we watched a movie that made a huge impact on me.  I actually think of it often and am still moved by it.  The movie was “Taking Chance”, starring Kevin Bacon.  It is about a fallen soldier being taken home and the military officer who accompanied him.  I cried through the entire movie, I really wanted to just sit and sob, but retained my composure and just let the tears fall.

All too often in recent years, we have seen videos of our military personnel who are being loaded onto aircraft.  We see the honor guard and the spouses and family standing soberly by the casket.   It is heart wrenching to say the least.  But, it truly is what these heroes deserve.

A couple of nights ago, a gentleman from our church passed away.  I confess, I did not know him well.  I knew him to see him and I loved when he would stand to pray.  His prayers were bold, and strong and elegant.  His prayers would make my heart soar.   Hubby, though, did know this man.  He had visited him frequently the past month as his health was declining.  So, the other night when we received a call that he had passed, hubby went to the hospital to be with the family.

I got a text from him an hour or so later and he said that he would be staying with this man until he was taken to the morgue.  I didn’t think much of it, it just sounds like something my husband would do.    He came home later that night and I could tell the passing of this man had touched my husband’s heart.   We knew he was now out of pain and was peaceful.  Hubby said there was almost a smile on his face in death, and we both agreed that he most likely saw the glory of heaven in his last moments and that is enough to make anyone smile.

As I started to drift off to sleep that night, it occurred to me what my husband had done that evening.  He had said when he came in that his feet were a bit tired from standing and I didn’t connect the dots until I was trying to go to sleep.   He was standing watch for his friend, who not only was his friend, but, a brother in arms.  This man who died was a combat veteran who had served in the Air Force for 20 years.  He served in Viet Nam and the military when it wasn’t fashionable to do so.  He served his country when most people ridiculed our military.  He never received  accolades given for his service like they are given today.  No one stopped him on the street to thank him for his service.  He quietly did his duty.  He was a hero.

And, my husband, who recognized this hero stood watch beside him.  To the staff at the hospital, he was a cancer patient who had most likely lived a full life.  He was older and he lost his battle to cancer.   Hubby, though, knew the rest of the story.  He knew he was a veteran.  They had shared stories of their time in the service, they bonded as only brothers in arms can.

So, at the end of his life, he received the honor he deserved.  He was not left alone.  He had a brother standing guard, watching and making certain he was taken care of.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and ages.  I am proud I have my own hero.  A man who respects the tenants and traditions of the military.  A man who will honor the heroes that have served and gone on before him.

Thanks for stopping by today.  Cathi (DAF)

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Just Thinking…

Each year at this time I begin to remember and think of what I was doing and where I was.  Each year I add another number to the count of the years.  Each year I wonder where the time has gone.  Tomorrow is my oldest daughter’s birthday.  I don’t mind my own birthday, but, hers gets to me yearly.

Yes, I have two daughters, but until recently the only birthday that bothered me was my oldest daughter’s birthday.  Now, that her sister has made it to her mid-thirties, I begin to feel older in September also.

I can remember talking to my Dad on my birthday.  He would ask, “How old are you now?”  I always thought that was a bizarre question, I  mean, how could you not remember how old your child was?  I am beginning to think it was self-preservation that he asked that question.  I think he was most likely hoping I would give a lower number, which I never did, because, as I mentioned previously, my birthday never seems to really bother me. So, I would proudly announce my age and his response is one that I have become very familiar with, “How did you get to be that old and I really don’t think I am old enough to have a daughter your age.”   I guess with age comes wisdom.  I feel that same way.

Today as I was going through my Facebook page, I started to read the responses on a friend’s post.  As usual there was a secondary conversation that was between my friend and a friend of hers that I do not know.  The conversation went like this, (friend 1) “How is your Mom?”   (friend I don’t know) “She is good.  64 now and healthy.”

I swallowed hard.  This comment made it sound like at 64 the woman should be in a home for the infirm and aged.  This, on top of my oldest approaching what could be a milestone year as she hits a big year next year (sorry Sweetie), made me start to look for my walker, a cane or my bed pan.  Or all three of them.

It truly is amazing that I have my facilities to actually write this out and think coherently.  Age, in wine, cheese and Sean Connery it is a wonderful and delightful thing, each year making it better than before.

So, I will continue to think on this.  This business with age, and numbers and gray hair and arthritic hands.  This business of growing older.

I close with this quote I found.  
Never use the passing years as an excuse for old age. ~Robert Brault

Thanks for stopping by today.  I appreciate your visit.  Oh, and to my dear daughter, Thank you for the years of laughter and tears and worry and joy.  May #%* be the best year yet for you!  Cathi (DAF)

 

 

Weeding…

When we bought our first home there was no landscaping in place except for a small patch of grass in the front yard with a lone star-pine tree planted there.  I loved the star pine, Hubby did not.  It did not last long in the front yard and eventually the landscaping never truly took hold.  It was a thorn in my side the entire time we lived there.

When we were looking for our new home, landscaping was a must for me.  I wanted landscaping in place and that was one of my must have’s.

We found our home and yes, it was landscaped.  We found our home almost three years ago next month.  The front yard was covered in leaves, but, underneath you could see spring appearing in the form of daffodils, irises, crocuses, and hyacinths.  I was thrilled!  In the back yard in back of the pool was a large area garden.  It was overgrown, but, I was certain it would be an easy fix.  Ahhh… the dreams of a potential homeowner!

That garden has been the bane of my existence since we moved in.  The first summer I did nothing to it.  It was fascinating to see what bloomed and where.  During the winter I cut back some things and discovered things that had been hidden.  A rose-bush, some ground cover, a few trees.    But, I never quite got complete control of the area.

This month I went into the yard.  Garden gloves on my hands.  Loppers and clippers were my weapons of choice.  I made the decision, anything higher than 18 inches was gone.  I know.  I know I have just made gardeners cringe.  I have just made gardeners gasp in horror.  I attacked this area.  No more ‘Mr. Nice Guy’.  I started at the edge and worked my way into it, tackling sections at a time.  I am still not done.  There are still some things that are as tall as me standing.  But, not for long.

I pulled things up from their roots.  I have tossed them into a big pile of debris.  I have cut back trees, hoping some will return stronger and not caring if others ever show themselves again.  I am determined to see what exactly is in that garden.  To start at the bottom and see what survives and what can be transplanted.

It has been therapeutic for me.  I am seeing something accomplished.  I am seeing what lays beyond the glancing eye.    I am digging down and pulling out the dead stuff, the weeds that have taken hold and died and covered the fragile green things underneath.

Yes, I have found a spiritual lesson in this all.  How often have I allowed dead things to cover me up?  How many times have I left things blocking my new growth?  How many times have I allowed things in my life to be smothered by things that are decaying?

Yes, I do know that this is still January and some of what I am uncovering is going to be exposed to the cold of the rest of winter, but some of this needs to be exposed, to get the light, to get the air and get the chance to breathe.   Myself included.

I am always amazed by this time of year.  It is still winter, but there are signs of spring.  Tiny green shoots.  Soft green leaves.   An image of hope that contrasts the bare trees and the dormant grass of the yards.

Being outside, working, pulling things both in the garden and in my body, I am filled (not only with aching muscles) with hope.  For each year spring comes.  It comes for me also.  New growth.  New hope.  New adventures.

Thanks for stopping by today.  Hope your day is filled with a hint of spring.   Cathi (DAF)

 

 

 

Snow…

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Yesterday we woke up to this.  Beautiful, isn’t it?  I love snow.  I smile when I see snow.  I turn into that child that wants to run outside all bundled up and play.  We had heard we may get snow, but, we have heard that a couple of times this winter.  Each time has been a disappointment to hubby and I.   We read accuweather and saw that the snow was supposed to come at 3:00 a.m.  We actually stayed up until 3:30 a.m. hoping to at least see some flurries.  Every few minutes one of us would go out to the front porch and look.  Each time one of us would report that although we could smell the coming of snow, it was not snowing.

Finally, saner minds took control and we went to bed, knowing that we would be disappointed once more, but resigning ourselves to the fact that we once again, may not have snow.

You can only imagine our excitement to wake up and see our beautiful property covered in glorious snow yesterday.   We watched as the snow kept falling throughout the morning.  We had a late breakfast and went out to explore our property.  We walked through our woods, loving each snow covered branch, each tree laden down with the weight of the snow.  We were out until our feet were cold and our hands cold.  It was a day I will always remember.

Snow is important to me.  It is part of who I am.  I know that sounds strange, but there is a part of me that comes alive in snow.  I don’t tire of it.  It is a part of my childhood and it is a part of our young married life living in Maine.  It makes my heart glad.

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Snow especially means a lot to me on this day.  Forty three years ago today, I woke up to a blinding snow storm.  I gasped as I looked out the window.  I wasn’t expecting snow on that day, it hadn’t really crossed my mind.  But, there it was and still falling.  I got dressed, curled my hair, put on my make up and then posed with my family for my wedding pictures.

It was a day I will always remember, as you do whenever you get married.  But, this day had so many unexpected laughs and memories that I hold dear.  So, as I look out our back windows today at the snow covered woods behind our home, I remember seeing my dashing young groom come sliding into a parking place in front of the church, bounding over the snow drifts and heading into the church.

I will remember my forever friend’s father making snow balls and throwing them at us as we were getting our pictures taken inside the church.  I will remember walking through knee deep snow in the parking lot of our reception hall and being caught by my groom as I went sliding into the hall almost losing my balance.  I will always remember the look on my Aunt Dot’s face when she saw me almost fall.    I will remember the band walking in late for the reception since they were in three snow related accidents trying to get to the reception.  None of those memories would have happened had there not been snow.  So, yes, I do love snow as it makes the best memories to hold.

Outside of living in Maine some thirty nine years ago, we have not had snow on our anniversary.  It was a special gift to me this year.  One that I will always remember.  Happy Anniversary to my dear hubby.  I may not have written anything lovely on Facebook today, but, this is for you.  It has been an adventure, hasn’t it?  IMG_1869

Thanks for stopping by today.  Cathi (DAF)

Thank you…

When we were away over the holidays, we had our mail put on hold.  It just makes it easier.  Monday of this week our mail was delivered, and it’s always fun to go to the mail box and see it crammed full of built up mail.  Of course, there is also the side that makes you wonder just how many bills are in the mix.  (There were none, which gave us a happy dance!)

As I opened the mailbox, I saw the envelopes and magazines and then I saw a mailing envelope.  I figured it was for hubby, who often gets things like that in the mail.  I pulled it all out and saw my name on the envelope.  I looked at the return address and smiled.  It was from Texas.    I actually found myself rushing into the house so I could rip open the package.  I could not help but smile.

The package was from a friend of mine who I met years ago, although it just seems like yesterday.  We had an unusual introduction, via e-mail.  I was part of a ministry in San Diego and was asked to write this woman, who at the time needed just a bit of encouragement.  I had done this often and had enjoyed the times I had written these women.  Most of them I wrote a couple of times and never heard from them again.  This time, a bond was formed.  We went from writing about the need at the time to sharing things like our youth, our dreams, our thoughts on various subjects.  We talked about Southern CA and how there was a lack of song birds.  Somehow, that part of our conversations has always been a part of our friendship.   I believed we wrote one another for several months before actually meeting each other.  I bought a new outfit the day I met her, so that I knew I would look okay upon meeting her.  I smile at that thought now, as she is so accepting and loving, she never would have been concerned at how I looked.

Anyhow, I opened the package and there was a beautiful journal for me.  I had just thought about getting a new one the day before and there it was, sitting on my kitchen table.  I looked inside and there was a note from her.   As I read the note through tear filled eyes, I thanked the Lord for her presence in my life.  She is a precious gift to me and one I am always grateful for.

So, Diane, thank you.  Thank you for being you most of all.  You have blessed my life over and over in so many ways.   Your thoughtfulness amazes me.  I am so glad that we met, and as we have said often, it truly was God’s design to have our lives intertwined.    I know this is an unusual thank you note, but, it was one I felt I had to share.

Too often in our lives we mean to say things to important people in our lives and we neglect to.  We put it off, we postpone writing a note or sending a text or even picking up a phone to call.  We think of people daily and never let them know they are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.  Time passes too quickly and I am so guilty of not calling, writing, or letting those people, my family, my friends know how much I love and appreciate them.

Thank you again for the lovely journal, but thank you most of all for the kind words you wrote in the journal.  The words I write in it will never mean as much as what you shared.

Cathi (DAF)

Crumbs…

You know that pathetic plate of Christmas cookies that linger on your counter top on the 26th of December?  You know what I mean…  those hard sugar cookies that still look edible, but, you know you could chuck them into the woods and knock out a bear one hundred feet away?  Yes, those cookie crumbs.  But, you don’t throw them away because you know if you just pop them in the microwave for three seconds they will soften up a bit and almost taste good?

I hope I am not the only one who hesitates throwing away the last remaining cookies in hopes of keeping the celebration going.  Yes, I do confess I still have a paper plate filled with a few remaining goodies that will soon become housed in the trash can.

These are not the crumbs I am referring to, though.  As I mentioned in my last post, Little Man and crew left late morning on the 26th.  As I wiped my tears I realized we were leaving the following day for Florida.  I looked around the fully decorated house and thought.  I looked outside and thought.  The weather was going to dip into the low digits while we were gone.  We were going to be away from home for ten days.  I knew I had to move, so move I did.

I went outside, removed the garlands, the bows, the lights, the nativity scene.  I sort of reminded myself of the Grinch stealing the Who’s decorations.  I moved quickly and soon it looked barren outside, well, except for the trees and the mulch.  I took everything upstairs to the extra room we have.  I placed everything in piles waiting to be put away.

Next I hit the guest room.  I stripped the decorations off the tree in that room.  I took down every hint of Christmas.  I proceeded to go through each room, removing things on the walls and on top of tables.  The house literally echoed with the absence of the fun things.  I did not stop until evening.  In between I did laundry and packed for our trip.  It was a full day.

I stopped short of taking down the tree in the living room and the tree in the loft.  I knew if I came home to a barren home, it would give me great sadness.  So, now I am home.  I have enjoyed my trees and the lights that I left on our stairs.  It has allowed the celebration to stretch just a bit.

Yesterday I took all the decorations off the living room tree.  It is standing looking dejected.  A mere shadow of its former glory.  Today I will pull out the bins and the boxes and fill them up, removing (hopefully) the piles so neatly organized in our extra room.  I am not looking forward to doing this.  Not that I want to keep Christmas going, I just don’t feel like lugging out the bins and the boxes and actually getting things put away.

I was debating doing any of this today, until, I sat down to look at my blog page.  I sat on the couch, lifted my laptop onto my lap and glanced out of our french doors into the screen room.  There, sitting out there was a huge Christmas crumb.  A Christmas tablecloth on our outdoor table.  A blatant reminder that it is time.  Time to put it all away, time to store all the festivity, time to get myself moving.

So, I will close this out, and go deal with Christmas crumbs.  Maybe I will start a new tradition, maybe I will make some cookies…  I think I may deserve a nice fresh cookie and a cup of tea after I deal with the leftovers of Christmas.   Thanks for stopping by,  Cathi (DAF)

Looking Back…

In November, I had great plans for writing about our Thanksgiving visit with Little Man and his folks.  I took pictures and I may still use them and write about them, but, somehow, time flew by and nothing was written.

I had a wonderful holiday season.  I was so busy making memories that I did not take time to write about them.  I would not change a thing.  Sometimes it is so much more important to live in the moment and catalog each giggle, each smile, each sigh in your heart than to think of how to express those deep feelings with words.

We spent Thanksgiving with Little Man, like I mentioned.  We stayed with some dear friends and we celebrated Hubby’s birthday all in the same week.  It was a week filled with hugs, kisses, old movies, mini golf, lots of food and the comfort of being with friends who are family and family .  It couldn’t have been better.

We drove home from Thanksgiving and I dove into decorating.  I took my time and I have to say that this year’s decorations were surprisingly beautiful.  My ideas of what I would like to see actually worked!  I was amazed.

We had a couple of parties at the house and the house echoed with laughter and conversations and of course, there was plenty of food.

Christmas saw Little Man and his family here.  From the greeting with my obnoxious ugly Christmas sweater (which Little Man loved) to the tearful parting and good-bye the day after Christmas, our home and hearts were filled to the brim.  Laughter rang out and there was music and old movies and new movies, legos, games, puzzles and old stories filling our home.  These all outshined the decorations.  When your home is filled with loved ones they are the perfect decoration and make the gifts and ribbons and bows pale in comparison.

Shortly after Christmas, Hubby and I traveled to Florida to see Little Miss and her folks.  We spent ten glorious days with them.  Again, the time spent with them was time that we will cherish.  Seeing Little Miss be herself, complete with singing, dancing around, playing with her dolls and her legos, made our hearts glad.  She is full of life and she reminds us how fun it is to be three…  we laughed for ten days straight.

Looking back on this holiday season fills me with such a peace.  I was hugged and kissed by two of the most important people in my life.  Their obvious love for hubby and I melt our hearts.  Being hugged by sometimes sticky hands is the absolute best feeling in the world.  I was spoiled this year with gifts, but the two gifts I cherish most are my grandchildren.  Their smiles, their laughter, their stories, they are the things that make anytime special.

So, Happy New Year!  I hope 2018 holds the best for you all.  My year ended and started in the best possible way,  I look forward to the coming months.

Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

 

Markers…

This week is Thanksgiving.  A time when we remember.  A time to point out things in our lives that we are grateful for.  A time to give thanks.

Many of the things we give thanks for are situations with family, friends, people.  Activities we may have had or shared experiences that have touched us somehow.  This time of year prompts us to think back, to reflect, and in reflection we respond with gratitude.

Each of us have certain things in our life that we hold on to.  Things become markers in our lives.  We keep them to remind ourselves.

Today I came in from church.  I came in through the garage and as I headed into the kitchen from the mud room I saw a blue leash hanging from one of the coat hooks.  I smiled to myself and took a breath, somehow arguing that is was now time to take that leash down.  It has sat idle for a year now.  Hanging there as a reminder.  I won the argument with myself and the leash still hangs in its spot.  It belongs there.

The leash is not the only marker I have in my home.  For most of the year I have a little ornament that hangs on my pie server in my dining room.  It’s a simple little ornament that says, “Friends are Forever”.  Most of the time I don’t even see it, it has just become a part of my dining room decor.  But, like the leash, it belongs there.

I have a mini Christmas stocking that looks like it has been through the wars.  It hasn’t, it is just old.  I got it the Christmas I was pregnant for the second time.  It hung beside the stocking belonging to my daughter.  It was full of hopes and dreams as I hung it in 1981.  It was the stocking for the child we lost just a few short days after Christmas.  A miscarriage, but somehow it was Tim’s stocking, the name we had picked out for that baby.  It now hangs each year on our tree, another marker of mine.

I have photos on my refrigerator.  They often times drive me to distraction because of the cluttered look they give my fridge, but each are markers for me.  People dear to me and reminders to pray for those in the pictures.

The markers in our life are important.  They become a landmark for the journey of our lives.  Most of the time we don’t see them.  They are there like stop signs and street signs.  We see them, but they do not stop the activities of our daily routine.  They do not cause us to cease our schedules to ponder them.  They are just there.

Until, that is, we do stop to look at them or touch them, or consciously think about them.  Today I thought about the leash.  A melancholy smile came to my face.  The leash that gave excitement to our Shugo.  The leash that held him at stay whenever another dog was walking in the other direction.  The leash that jingled when we went to the door and he would come running, tail wagging, and we waited for his house bark to go out for his walk.  It will remain there, because it belongs there.

The ornament on my pie holder will remain there, because, it reminds me of my friend Dawn.  My walking companion for years.  I will keep it there to remind me of the times we spent circling Chollas Lake, laughing , talking, crying and making certain the squirrels did not get her.  The strength we got from each other to get through her divorce, to get through my moving, to get through a rough day when walking was just not enough, but a piece of pie did help it just a bit more.

The mini stocking that makes me wonder who that child would be as an adult.  But, also knowing that the child born after the miscarriage has given me so many wonderful gifts that I can’t begin to write that all down.  A reminder that plans don’t always go the way you think, but our God is bigger and His way will give healing to broken hearts and bring us unexpected joys.

The pictures on the fridge, are a testament  of a life surrounded by people who have touched your life, some family, some neighbors, but all loved.

Markers are things we hold onto.  As I head into this Thanksgiving week I am grateful for much, but, I think that in this moment, right now, I am thankful for the markers in my life, for they anchor me to where I have been.  They are a foundation in my memory.  They stir my heart with recognition of a happy, full, and rewarding life.

What are some of the markers in your life?  I’d like to hear about them if you would like to share them.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all,  thank you for stopping by.  Cathi (DAF)

 

A year has gone by…

I dreaded looking at my Facebook memories today because I knew what would be waiting for me.  I was right.  The pictures of our little pup were waiting for me to look at.

It has been a year since he was underfoot.  A year that we haven’t heard him wheezing and crying in his sleep. A year that we haven’t had to vacuum once a day to keep up with the shedding.   A year that we haven’t tripped over him accidentally .

I have spent the day trying to talk myself into acknowledging how much easier this year has been.  We have saved on trips to the store to pick up his food.  No vet visits.  No stress over how he is feeling and if there was something I could do to make him more comfortable.

We said that we would give ourselves a year to decide if we were going to get another dog.  We decided months ago that he was, in fact, our last dog.  We are still good with that decision.  But, we still miss our little guy.

I went I to the place in our yard where we laid him to rest.  I talked to him even though I know he could not hear, and I did shed a few tears.

As Agnes Sligh Turnbull said, “Dog’s lives are too short. Their only fault, really.”

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Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

Dredging up the past…

Today was a fall day.  The sky was bright blue, but the air was crisp and there was just a general feeling of needing to be wrapped up in something comfy and staying on the couch all day long.

But, that was not the plan for today.  Instead, hubby and I drove an hour and half to Columbia to visit the VA hospital for an appointment of his.

The morning started out wonderfully, we loved our drive down and spent the time munching on some fruit and sipping our coffee and tea and chatting about upcoming events.

And then…  we arrived at the VA.  We were an hour early and were thrilled, hoping we could get in sooner and leave sooner.  We drove into the facility and immediately stopped, vehicles everywhere.  We entered the first parking lot and immediately I was transported back in time.  The years were 1982- 1985….  The time was the same, fall, bright blue skies and a nip in the air.  The kind of cool that cuts through your sweater and settles into your bones.  It only comes in sharp gusts and takes you by surprise each time it happens.   During that time frame I was a mother of two young children.  We were living in San Diego and I was in a parking lot like the one I was in today.  I circled the parking lot several times, praying each time I entered into a new row, ‘please let there be an open space!’.    None were ever available, and I would finally go into a pay parking area and fork out the $2.00 that was needed for my vehicle.    The parking lot would be a quarter to a half mile from my destination…  the pediatric care clinic of the Naval Hospital.   Pushing my car into park, I would then unload my girls and proceed to carry them, sometimes both of them at a time to the clinic.  I was usually exhausted by time I reached the clinic and it always made the bright days seem cloudy.

I haven’t thought of those times in years.  I haven’t had to, they were neatly tucked away in my stored memory file.   But, somehow, today, circling those parking lots, it all came flooding back to me.  And, in that moment I was feeling the same weight I felt all those years ago.

Again, hubby and I did not find a parking place.  A half hour after arriving, we finally found the overflow lot and proceeded to circle that lot, an unpaved, pot-hole strewn lot where a semi could get lost in a pot hole. Not one place was available.  Finally, we backed into a grassy area and parked our car.  We walked the quarter mile to the building we needed to be in while I tried my best not to find a place for my soap box which, unfortunately is always with me.

Why a soapbox?  I find it reprehensible that our veterans have to spend a half hour trying to find a place to park in order to been seen by their physicians.  These people who have pledged their allegiance to our country.  These people who have given their youth, their energy, their best cannot easily use the facilities that are there for them.

So, as we walked to the clinic, I mentioned that I knew there was a blog post in all of this.  I will now put away my soap box and sit and try to shove those memories back into storage.  Those memories make a part of me want to sit and cry.  Although so many of my memories of our time in the Navy are wonderful, there are some that just make me ache.   The feelings that were resurrected today are some of the worst.  Feeling helpless with sick children and knowing that the only way for them to be seen was to jump through the hoops that were present during that time.  After being seen we then had to go to pick up prescriptions, which, at that time meant sitting on a group of metal bleachers outside in the elements with your sick children while your prescription was filled.  That always added an hour to the ordeal.

Yes, I know things have greatly improved for military families, but, just one question remains for me… why can’t they pave a stupid parking lot for our veterans?

Thanks for reading my rant…  Cathi (DAF)