Monday, June 25, 2012

The Giving House...

If you have never read The Giving Tree, please take a look at the above clip before you read the rest of my blog.  The whole gang came down to Louisville to visit with the fam before we head to Nashville.  Also, today was Caroline's birthday.  We got to celebrate that with Mom, Dad, and Patrick.  While we have only been a here a few days, it has been a great few days.

When we are here we usually like to hike around my the subdivision that I grew up in.  Brooke and some friends tease me and call me Huck Finn due to the stories I sometimes tell about my childhood here.  In my defense, there is a river that runs through this subdivision, there are 70 acres of land, plus  some great woods to hike around in.  Not to mention, across the river there was a HUGE farm to get lost in.  Plenty of places to canoe, fish, shoot things, swim, etc.  Growing up here actually was a little like Huck Finn.  It is such a joy for me to show my girls where their Daddy grew up.  It is great to tell them stories about what I did when I was just a bit older than them.  I had some great summers here with Mickey and Josh.  We would be gone all day, doing all sorts of kid things.  The worst thing our parents had to to worry about was us getting lost in the fields....or the bull across the way.  We were pretty confident we could get across the water back to safety before he could.  The three of us were "Kentucky Wildmen" before it was a toothless wonder on TV.

More importantly to me is to share with the girls this house and my parents.  Both the house and my parents are like the tree in the story above.  The tree loves the boy and gives the boy every thing it could.  Both the house and my parents come alive with joy when we come back, just like the tree.  And each time the boy comes back he was a little bit older and he would asked for a little more.   By the end of the story all that was left of the tree was a stump to sit on.  This worked out well because by then that's all the old "boy" wanted.   I see the same feeling in this house and with my parents.  Each time I come back it looks a little bit older but it never loses the special feeling.  During the summer when we are here the girls swim in our pool all the time. They sleep so well because they are exhausted from all the exercise.  I can't help when I'm watching them in the pool to think of all the summer days I spent in the pool with my friends.  I also can't help but contemplate that if the pool had a soul,  there is no question it would be smiling.  It has been a while since it has had young kids playing in its waters.

Then there is Mom and Dad, pretty much the same applies to them.  They have given and given, and will continue to give until all they have left is a stump for me (us) to sit on.  Watching the girls play in the same places that I played in, with at times the same toys I played with, is exactly what Mom and Dad want.  When I come here, I don't need to swing, I don't need limbs, and I don't need a trunk.  All I need is a stump to sit on to rest my body.  That's exactly what I get here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

We will never forget.....

For all those brave men who stormed the beaches, took the cliffs and freed a world.....we say thanks.  I am very proud that my grandfather was there, thanks PaPaw.

The Boys of Pointe du Hoc

By Ronald Reagan
(Note: The following are remarks delivered by President Ronald Reagan on June 6, 1984 commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Invastion of Normandy.)
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.
We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs.
Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.
The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.
And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor."
I think I know what you may be thinking right now -- thinking "we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day." Well everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him.
Lord Lovat was with him -- Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, "Sorry, I'm a few minutes late," as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.
There was the impossible valor of the Poles, who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold; and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.
All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore; The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots' Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet," and you, the American Rangers.
Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love.
The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought -- or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4:00 am. In Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying. And in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.
Something else helped the men of D-day; their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer, he told them: "Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do." Also, that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."
These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.
When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together. There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall Plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall Plan led to the Atlantic alliance -- a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.
In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. The Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They're still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.
We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace, prepared to deter aggression, prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms, and yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.
It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II. Twenty million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.
We will pray forever that someday that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.
We're bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We're bound by reality. The strength of America's allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe's democracies. We were with you then; we're with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.
Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."
Strengthened by their courage and heartened by their value [valor] and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.
Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Prayers for Patrick (not my brother)

There is a family Brooke has followed for awhile on Facebook.  The mother is from Kentucky, but she now lives in Hendersonville, TN (where Brooke is from).  The family is friends with a lot of Brooke's friends, and she heard about Patrick through mutual friends on Facebook.  Patrick is a 2 year old, blond haired, blue eyed boy.  Patrick is a big UK fan. Patrick likes Thor and race cars..... Patrick has a brain tumor they found just 70 days ago that was discovered by his pediatrician. His pediatrician happens to be his grandfather.  It is scary and shocking how fast your world can be turned upside down.  Patrick is an incredible fighter.  He has defied all odds to live this long but it is getting more and more difficult for Patrick.  They have stopped treatment for Patrick and are simply trying to make him as comfortable as possible.  I recommend you go to "Prayers for young Patrick F" on Facebook to read his entire story.  If you want, a video is available here....tissue alert

For the most part, I have refused to let Brooke read me any of Patrick's story.  It is simply my worst nightmare, and I cannot listen to it without getting emotional.  Yes, I recognize the immense struggle the entire family is going through, and the pain that Patrick must feel.  Selfishly, I shy away from the story in part because you can't help but imagine it being one of your kids. Being a parent can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things you can do as a human.  It isn't always beautiful but it is such an amazing ride.  However, sometimes the world is cruel, and occasionally you are placed in a position where must watch your children suffer.  You are always supposed to be the calm, reassuring force for the family.  Seeing your baby become ill is very difficult.  Seeing your baby slowly die in front of your eyes is unimaginable.  You suffer because their future is disappearing, you suffer because you can't take away the pain, you suffer because they suffer.  

Enter my girls above.  Brooke decided to have a garage sale this weekend.  With that, the education of what a garage sale actually is began for my girls.  They didn't quite understand why we were selling all our stuff.  One thing they do understand was getting money.  Dollar signs danced in their heads, and future plans were being made with their soon to be acquired riches.  At some point, Brooke told them to hit the brakes and slow down.  Perhaps with the garage sale they could also have a bake sale.  The next step then was to explain about the possible options of donating the money from the bake sale.  We don't think they fully understood what all this meant.  Brooke had to explain almost everything.  Some people don't have money, some people are hungry, some people don't have homes.  One thing they did understand was that there was a sick baby that their mother talks about, and that this sick baby could probably use the help.  The girls decided to make a poster (see above), and that they would donate some of their money from the bake sale to Patrick.  The girls decorated the poster above and Reagan thought it would be best to draw an angel watching over the sick boy.  Each girl made their own mark.  

Im not sure of the success of the garage sale, however the girls made $17.50 from their bake sale.  There were people who didn't even want the cookies but couldn't say no to the girls.  When all was said and done, Reagan made the executive decision that all the money should go help Patrick.  

This is a horrible situation, any way you slice it.  There are very few silver linings in this cloud.  Maybe, it will make you a little more appreciative of your good health.  Maybe, it will bring you closer to your God. Maybe, you will hug your children a littler tighter tonight.  One silver lining, for me, is how proud I am in the girls (all 5 of them) for doing what they can to help Patrick.  Im proud of Brooke for teaching the girls some good lessons,  and Im proud of the girls for giving up their money.   Brooke and I  thought it would be best to put some of our money in the pot to send to Patrick too.  None of it will pay back to Patrick and his family the lessons his family has given to mine.  A boy, far away, belonging to two parents we have never met, teaching all of us a lesson.  

All I ask is that your be thankful for your blessings.  Don't wait until a day in November to give thanks. If you believe in God, whoever your God is, say a prayer for Patrick before you go to bed tonight.  

I pray that your suffering is short.
I pray that your parents find comfort knowing that you will soon be snuggled by the Angels above.
Our loss is heaven's gain.