Memories – 2002

In going through some old writing I had from grief seminars with the Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, I found a couple things I’ve held onto. It would have been in about 2002, when I turned 50 years old. A huge mark in a person’s life, but for me it was the dawning of some premature events.

I went on disability at 48, I was unable to continue working due to the condition of my spine. I continued working for five years, and just couldn’t physically handle sitting all day anymore. My work place was more than accommodating. The Babe and I were married about four years. He told me I didn’t have to work. It never dawned on me to quit.

The header photo is a collage I made of my feelings in 2002, depicting how I felt about being placed on LTD. It was very hard to adjust to. I’d been working for twenty years, got an education while raising my kids, bought my own home, and climbed the corporate ladder. I was approaching where I would get to have the time of my life. And my career ended. All the words dealt with my medical issue, which you “couldn’t see.” “Doing What I Love?” I hadn’t thought of anything. ” I am data,” spoke to there being no data on someone recovering from what I had. I was written up in medical journals, complete with a digital photo of my arachnoid cyst squeezing my spinal cord. The pain was unbelievable. And for the big 5-0? I went on MEDICARE, for crying out loud. Fifteen years early. I was embarrassed. I certainly did not look 65. I felt I had no control over anything. I finally learned to grieve properly about that loss, and adjust to my new life. Thank you, Joy Johnson Brown and Dr. Mary Hansen! You ladies have taught me so much about living.

There was a session about expressing grief. It was through poetry. As nearly as I can remember, I must have written a poem about My Dad’s Hands. I’ll leave you with these thoughts.


Big, Outstretched, and Warm

I always felt safe

When Dad reached down

and took my small hand in his.

Crossing the street

Into the Doctor’s Office

Upstairs a million steps to the dentist’s smelly office

I knew he would protect me.

As I grew, I noticed

the nicotine stained fingers,

the Pressman’s ink,

the Mechanic’s grease,

and I saw some of his many talents.

His beautiful signature

The thousands of books he’d read

The golf clubs he treasured

The grandchildren he’d held after

He was sure they wouldn’t break.

How cold and small they seemed

With the IV’s inserted

As that modern plague Cancer

Sucked the breath from his lungs,

But not the love for him from my heart.

Yes, I Remember

Yes, I remember where I was when I heard about the attack on America. My oldest son’s car broke down, so I gave him a ride to the construction site he was working at in Ashland, NE. It was a Street of Dreams Home under construction. I got to the intersection where the Outlet Mall was, and the Babe called me. He told me a plane struck the World Trade Center. I started to cry, and couldn’t figure out how that could happen. Once I got home, I watched TV, the tears really fell. How could this happen?

Three days before, we celebrated the wedding of one of our daughters, Tracy, to TJ. It was the most beautiful week of parties, bonding, and happiness. Our blended family had it’s first wedding, and everyone was there. Son Blake and his fiancee Monica got on a plane Monday, September 10th, to go back home. Blake was a new uniformed officer for the United States Secret Service. He was due back at work on Tuesday. Monica was to report to her job at a dental clinic. Blake and his co-workers all were stationed at various places around Washington, DC. They did not know what happened. We knew more than he did at the time.

The whole day took a toll on everyone’s emotions. Many people from our Church had loved ones in New York or Washington. The Babe and I were going to lead a class for Stephen’s Ministry and the first class was to be that evening. It didn’t happen. Our friend and pastor, Dr. Mary Hansen, asked instead that I talk at the Church service that evening. I was honored.

The whole premise of Stephen’s Ministry is to be a support to people who are going through some turmoil. 9/11 certainly qualifies as turmoil. I talked about how we had a family wedding right in that Church three days before. And right now, the young man who was at his sister’s wedding Saturday, was guarding the Treasury Building three days later. Other Church family members were scattered across the country. No one was lost that day, no one was injured. We were all more afraid than we could remember being.

Nineteen years later, I am deeply saddened how our First Responders are demonized instead of honored. I am so saddened at the death of the Lincoln Police Officer Herrera. He was also an Army Veteran and will be buried at the Omaha National Cemetery tomorrow. First Responders are still the first we turn to in times of crisis. We need them, and we need them healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Take time to thank them for always being there all these nineteen years later. Thank you to our military and First Responders. We would not still be here without you. I am still sad about the innocent lives lost that day.

When I picked my son up that afternoon, as he got in the car, he asked, “OK, so what happened today. I knew something was wrong, there were no planes in the air. That never happens.” I told him about the day’s happenings. He asked if we heard from Blake and Monica. At that time, no, we hadn’t, but Monica keeping Blake’s Mom informed.

So many things have changed since then. Blake’s Mom has passed away. He has been promoted from a uniformed officer to Captain in the Secret Service. He is Captain in his favorite division, and his retirement time is coming up quickly. His dad is retired. Blake and Monica have a wonderful son we love to bits. Tracy and TJ have two beautiful kids, as do Becky and Brian in Colorado. We have gone from wanting our world safe for us to praying it is for our kids and grandkids.

Many things have not changed. Some people hate the United States with such a passion, it’s frightening. It’s frightening how many people are hateful to each other right here in America. The time after 9/11, Church attendance spiked at an unprecedented rate. It stayed there for a long time. It is frightening how many people want to embrace Socialism. Let’s not even go there, please. Those 3,000 + patriots who died that day died not so we could compromise on our ideals and way of life, they cannot have died in vain.

Let’s take a long, hard look at ourselves, and adjust our priorities. Our country needs to remain strong and it need to remain dominant in the world. We still need to be a leader as an example of a way of life that guarantees freedoms for everyone. We need to accept responsibility for ourselves first, and give a hard day’s work for our earnings, not live on handouts. We need to be self-reliant so if the world takes another bad turn we can find our ways out of the rubble.

God Bless America. Please.