Night Time is the Hardest

Since my young Marine deployed to the Middle East a few months ago, I’ve worked especially hard to stay busy. I fill my days with activity, most of it worthy, or at least pleasurable to me. A typical week is filled with meetings, political events, dance lessons, committee meetings, dance classes, doctor’s appointments, political rallies, and dance parties.

When I get home, I work. I write a lot of stuff that I won’t show anyone yet. I set up or plan more meetings. I practice dancing. I do a huge amount of research every day. And I’m in the process of figuring out a way to get paid for some of this. I spend hours researching and writing.

But then it gets late. And my eyes get tired of staring at the computer screen. And the only stuff on TV is stupid or boring. And my back hurts from sitting too long. That’s when I realize how tired I am.

So I shut down the computer after finding some place to end where I can pick it up easily tomorrow. I turn off the television, and stand up to stretch.

That’s when it happens.

I start to think.

No one said that being a MoM* was easy. I knew when my son joined the Marine Corps that there would be difficult days ahead. Having been born and raised in a military family, I knew the days would be long and hard. It’s just different when it is your dad who is gone and when it is your son who is gone. The years between the two experiences make a difference, too. I didn’t know as much when dad was in Southeast Asia. Sadly, I know way too much now about the Middle East.

So I think.

Some nights I go outside and pace my long driveway. I’ve learned that, if you look carefully enough, and long enough, you can see the occasional meteorite. You notice that stars actually come in a variety of colors – red, blue, white, orange. I look at the moon and watch it pass through each phase of the month. Because I live at approximately the same latitude as that in which my Marine is located, I imagine that the night sky looked the same that evening in both places, just several hours apart from each other. I wonder if he looked up at the moon and thought about home.

And when my sadness starts seeping from my eyes, I go back inside my quiet house. There is a difference between quiet and peaceful. This is the former; it’s just quiet. I wonder if I was right to turn off my computer – maybe I should work a while longer. But my tired eyes say no, so I head to my bedroom.

Lying in my bed is no different. I turn on the diffuser and fill my room with lavender in hopes of relaxing enough to sleep. I read something that will keep my focus, but not important enough to matter the next day if I don’t remember it. In desperation, I reach for my cell phone to play solitaire, or watch music videos – anything to make me stop thinking.

Night time is the hardest.

 

~Temerity Dowell

 

 

*Mom of a Marine

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Spider Webs and Memories

There is a large spider in the window beside my front door. She has constructed a greatly intricate web across the window pane just to the left of the door. Needless to say, when I’ve had to go outside, I’ve either used the back door, or stepped well to the right side of the front door, giving the spider a large berth.

I have a very rational fear of spiders. Ever since I was told that “the average human swallows three spiders in their sleep every year,” I’ve been afraid of them.* The meme’s you see on social media outlets regarding a fear of spiders were written about me. I actually HAVE done 30 minutes of aerobic exercise in two minutes after stepping into a spider’s web, and the thought of using a flame thrower to destroy a spider on the living room floor originated with me.

In the interest of avoiding an insurance claim, an exterminator visits my home every month. Every month! He sprays every crevice and cranny on every floor. The first time he stopped by, he saw a large spider, similar to the one I have this year, on the back porch and assured me that he would get rid of it, too. I stopped him! That spider would remain there until the cold winter would end his life naturally.

When my children were young, I read aloud to them the delightful children’s book “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White. It was the first of many that we would read together. While we only read it once, it would affect many things in our lives, including how we deal with spiders that create such detailed webs where we can safely enjoy their beauty.

Through many years, my sons and I have admired the handiwork of these creatures. We’ve watched moths, flies, and gnats land perilously in the webs, only to be surrounded quickly with more webbing so that the spider could end their life painlessly and gain nourishment from the insects. We’ve watched them spinning the web with perfectly straight lines, magically spaced with the exact same distance between each row. We’ve stood for hours in the doorway, safely inside, watching these mysterious arachnids work to create a web. It was a joy to get up in the morning and see it dripping with dew drops in the sunlight. Beautiful!

No, the spiders outside of my home live completely free from human harm. Unlike their indoor neighbors, they have no reason to fear my wrath, or even a heavy shoe, machete, gun, flame thrower, or exterminator. They live in peace.

My sons no longer live at my home. Both are serving our nation in faraway places. I wonder if, somehow, they might find a spider, at a safe distance, and watch her skillfully work to construct a web just as I watched the one here.

Sometimes it’s the little things that can evoke such memories. Little things – like spiders.

 

~Temerity Dowell

 

*For the record, the average human does NOT swallow three spiders while sleeping. Not every year, not ever! This is a lie! A myth!!

Missing my Boys

This week my younger son left home to deploy on his first mission with the US Marine Corps. I’m proud beyond belief. I also miss him greatly.

Earlier today, my older son, who serves in the Army National Guard, headed off for an extended drill weekend. Due to storms last month they had to cancel their scheduled activities for safety reasons, so I assumed they would be making up those things this month. As my soldier headed to his car, I asked, “Will you be jumping out of planes or helicopters?” His reply made me smile. “If we do, I’ll remember to take a garbage bag, Mom.”

Back story: Somewhere between a hundred years ago and yesterday morning, my sons were young. And they were very typical boys. Because we homeschooled them, they had many hours each day to find things to do on our family farm. We never owned video games or had a lot of movie channels, so entertainment sometimes involved rocks, sticks, ropes, and imaginary characters. Games of cowboys and Indians were common. Their adventurous spirit led them up trees, to the woods, in the pond, and down the zip line into a tree. It is truly a miracle that they both made it through childhood with little more than a few stitches.

One time my future soldier decided he wanted to jump out of the barn loft with a parachute. Parachutes being difficult to find for the average 10 year old, he decided to use a plastic trash bag instead….more than once. Obviously it was completely ineffective, but he really didn’t care. For all I know, he listed it under “Experience” when asked by the Army if he had ever jumped from a high point. Today, he does have his jump wings, and loves every opportunity he gets to jump from perfectly good airplanes and helicopters. And today, he uses a real parachute instead of a garbage bag. Go, Army!

I knew from the time he was young that his mind was on the military. When he was only 12 years old, we went to a local Civil Air Patrol meeting. At the end of the evening, he looked at me awkwardly as he showed me the emblem that they had given him when he “joined.” I should have known. He loved every weekly meeting, wearing his uniform, doing the physical training, taking tests to advance in rank, and even saluting superior ranking students and leaders. He was made for the military.

My young Marine, however, never showed one minute of interest in Civil Air Patrol. He wasn’t interested in the military; he was interested in cows. Somehow I managed to get it in my mind that he would graduate from high school and work in the agricultural field, perhaps as a feed lot buyer, a 4-H agent, or artificially inseminating cows (he was trained to do this by the Agricultural Extension Agency in our state when he was only 16). He had become a Master Beef Producer when he was just 14. He was supposed to grow up, live nearby (if not at my home), raise cows on our property, and eventually get married and give me the granddaughters that I so richly deserve to spoil.

My uncle was a Marine veteran who had served in Vietnam, spending part of his time in a North Vietnamese prison camp as a POW. A brain tumor, possibly caused by Agent Orange, was what took his life when my son was 16. My sons grew up around veterans. Both of my parents served in the military. My husband served, his father served, and his brother served. Three of my uncles served. Even though he had never given any indication that he might be interested in the military, my younger son decided when he was a teen that every young man should serve his country. So he became a Marine.

Someday, all my dreams for my younger son may come true. I’m especially believing Jesus for that last part, since I think I possess great potential at being a grandmother. But for now, he is somewhere in the world on a ship for the US Marine Corps. Oorah!

Forgive the ramblings of a sentimental mother. I am really missing my sons tonight.

 

~Temerity Dowell

 

How’s Your Christmas?

How bad is your Christmas season?

Have you spent all your money? Were you not able to get the perfect gift you wanted for someone special? Are you completely exhausted from all the shopping, cooking, baking, wrapping, decorating, holiday greetings, and gay happy meetings? Have you already started to gain those extra pounds, and it’s not even Christmas yet? Are you already beginning to dread January when the decorations come down, the credit card bills roll in, and the weight has to come off your hips somehow?

Christmas, and the holiday season in general, is not always a happy time. There are real, legitimate stressors that come with the season. Each of us is guilty of a time when we slapped on a smiling face and endured some event, dinner, party, gift, etc. that we didn’t really want to deal with. Just how bad is it really?

I know one mom whose daughter was killed in a tragic car accident just a few weeks ago. She was so excited about celebrating Christmas with her daughter this year. How bad is your Christmas?

One dear friend is walking through just the second Christmas without her husband of nearly 50 years. A young mom of three sons is also facing her second Christmas without her husband. Just how bad is your Christmas?

A new wife is spending her first Christmas alone. Her husband of just seven months is deployed and is serving in the Middle East. How hard is this season for you?

A former business owner, who was highly respected in his field, is in jail this year. He was guilty of the crime and has accepted his punishment, but he has lost his business, his prestige, influence, and many of his friends. So, how bad is your Christmas season?

His wife has spent this time determining how to pay the mortgage, how to eat, who she can trust, and which family members should not be told about the situation. How tough is it at your house?

One sweet mother of four children has recently been diagnosed with a mental illness that includes symptoms of severe and inexplicable anxiety. The lovely Christmas holidays her family has come to appreciate in the past are now impossible for her to replicate. She cannot endure sitting in a room of people during the Christmas programs her children are in at school. She cannot have a lot of people in her home for a party. Christmas shopping at the stores and a cup of coffee with a friend are out of the question now. How difficult is your situation?

One fellow MoM* lost her Marine last week. He had a heart attack. He was the picture of health (He was a Marine!) and was on his way home to see her. How bad is your Christmas now?

This sounds so depressing, and I apologize, dear reader. My intention was not to make my readers feel guilty. I truly hope you are celebrating the best Christmas season you’ve ever had! Along the way, I encourage you to be sensitive to people around you.

As people are grieving, they go through different phases, or steps, of the process (grief is a process). While you may not understand where they are in the journey, try to be sensitive to their needs. This can really be as simple as catching her sitting in a quiet corner at a party, rather than visiting with friends. Walking over with a warm cup of cider and an encouraging word would be appropriate. If you see her trying to escape before the tears start flowing, helping her with her coat and bag would be very helpful. Sometimes just taking his hand and giving it a squeeze is enough to let a friend know that you care about him. A wink at a friend across the room can speak a thousand words of comfort and encouragement.

Nearly everyone I know has admitted to having to endure, rather than enjoy, something at Christmas. Some of us have had to do more than endure, but have had to bear, the Christmas season. Keep your eyes open. Sometimes, they may just need a smile and hug to help them get through the day. Hugs and smiles make great Christmas gifts.

 

~Temerity Dowell

 

*Mother of a Marine

Thank You for Your Service

“Thank you for your service,” the gentleman said to the young Marine.

“Thank you for your support,” the Marine replied as they shook hands. Yet, that was not what the Marine really wanted to say.

He’s heard the words spoken to him quite a few times in his very short tenure as a Marine. Of course, prior to joining the corps he’d said it to airmen, sailors, soldiers, and Marines at every opportunity he’d been given. Most of the time, the men and women did not know how to reply. So this young Marine figured out quickly what he was going say if those words were ever spoken to him – “Thank you for your support.”

And still, that was not what he meant.

What he wanted to say was, respectfully, “What are you doing in service to our country?” or “What have you done to make your neighborhood such a great place to live?” or maybe even “Is your town a better place to live because you live there? What are you doing to make it better, to make it worth me fighting to protect?”

This Marine understood that not everyone was cut out for military service. He knew that there are any number of reasons that could prevent someone from having a job that involved protecting their community or serving it in other ways, like teaching or being a policeman. He also knew, though, that there were a million little things that anyone could do for their town, community, or neighborhood.

Alexis de Tocqueville stated nearly 200 years ago that, “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”* He had visited our nation and compared it to his native France. Here he saw people who were genuinely kind to one another, helping each other in times of distress or during an illness. He witnessed fiery sermons from pulpits across the nation that stirred people to repentance, to stand for what was right and good.

There are still young men and women who are willing to stand for what is right and good, to protect us from enemies, both foreign and domestic. But are there still people who are making America worth fight for?

It really happens through the smallest things. There’s the army veteran who lives across the street who mows the grass for the widow down the road. There’s a neighbor who sees when the farmer’s cows get out of the fence, so he stops to herd them back up, then he helps the owner to rebuild the fence. We see the goodness in the small business owner who agrees to teach some homeschooled students how to dance so that they can truly enjoy their high school prom. He and his wife go to a social dance held each year at a school for deaf children and dance with them. There’s the friend who comes to care for the woman who’s had serious surgery. She stays for days and cooks, cleans, and makes certain that the woman is on the road to recovery. It’s in the woman who writes letters to a friend who has been incarcerated to encourage him. These things are not as big as wearing a uniform, carrying a weapon, and defending freedom, but sometimes the small things really are quite great.

America is great because America is good.

This is such a difficult election cycle. This writer has been overwhelmed at the animosity and division in our nation. Depending on who is elected and how they choose to run the nation, we could end up better than we’ve ever been, or in an ash heap of ruins. While America may not be great, we can still make it good. I, for one, am going to work toward that goal.

~Temerity Dowell

 

*Yes, de Tocqueville said it long before Hillary Clinton and Dan Quayle even thought it.

Mamas and Presidents

Someday I’ll reach the point where nothing I see will surprise me. Today is not that day.

I really have tried to avoid social media today. I’ve tried to avoid the public, too. I figured everything I saw would be relative to either Veterans Day or post-debate spin. By the early evening, I figured that would all be over and it would be safe to go back in the water. The shark attack was waiting for me, though.

It’s really quite sad. A sweet woman, who is a former Republican elected official, and very conservative, has changed her Facebook posts to show that she is now supporting Bernie Sanders (If I’d been given a million years and a million guesses, I’d have never thought that sentence would be uttered about this woman.). I was stunned and disheartened. How can someone with a solid conservative political background, a former elected official, go from one extreme to another?

Simple. Her son is homosexual.

Both of the two major Democrat candidates are the only two who have spoken ardently in favor of homosexuality, including support of “gay marriage” (Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and I agree. For lack of a better term, I’m sticking with this one – always in quotation marks.). Of those two candidates, only one has lied repeatedly to the American public, so that left her to choose Sanders as her candidate.

I don’t understand why this has happened. I’d be lying if I said I did. I don’t understand what this mom is going through. I don’t understand her mindset. I’m also fairly certain that I will never exactly understand her situation. Therefore, I’m not going to act like I do understand it, and I’m not going to pass judgment.

What I do understand is how much a mom can love her son. My younger son is currently enduring the most difficult time of his life to date this week. If I had my way, I’d be with him standing on the sidelines cheering him on to victory, but protocol, and the US Marine Corp, prevents my presence.

So instead, I’m working the hardest I can to make sure that my sons’ lives are the best they can be. Since both of my children are in the military, I want them to have an incredible Commander in Chief to lead and direct them. I may not be able to pick who their local leaders are, but I can work diligently to see that their boss is the best man for the job.

While so many of my friends have already picked their candidate, I haven’t yet. They are working to elect the next president. I’m working to elect the guy that will make sure my sons are as safe as possible, have everything they will need to do their job effectively, and will never be sent needlessly into harm’s way. I want that person to be the very best one. My sons’ lives depend on it.

I don’t belittle my friend. In her mind, she is doing the same thing for her son that I’m doing for mine. She is going to be surprised, though. I’ll be working much harder for my candidate, when I find him, than she will be working to elect Sanders. We mamas love our sons.

~Temerity Dowell

Regulation 190-14

On Thursday, July 16, 2015, I watched in horror as the events in Chattanooga unfolded. The day was frightening for me, most especially because I have two sons who have long military careers ahead of them. While the news reports were coming in so quickly, I contacted both of my sons to confirm their safety. However, tomorrow is a new day. Will they be safe when they report to a military base then? Will they be able to protect themselves?

Former President Bill Clinton is often credited with removing the right to carry weapons. However, the fault is not his. The Department of Defense issued a directive1 in February 1992, during the presidency of George “41” Bush, that stripped our service members of this right. During the Clinton Administration, in March 1993, this directive became a regulation, 190-142, issued by the Department of Defense. It was not an executive order, but a DoD regulation.

According to an unclassified FBI report3 released last September, between 2000 and 2013 there were 160 active shooter situations. Of those 160, sixteen of them took place on military bases or government facilities. At none of those locations did anyone have a means to defend themselves.

After learning of these facts, I contacted a recruiter for the US Marine Corps who has asked to remain anonymous. He is reeling today over the events of yesterday. One of his friends is fighting for his life after surgery last night. We talked about the law that prohibits these men and women from protecting themselves and how the outcome from yesterday could have been very different. He firmly agrees that members of our armed forces should be allowed to carry a weapon, even on federal property.

This prompted me to ask how much training with weapons our military men and women receive. He stated that regardless of their assignment or position, each member has two weeks of training with a rifle every year. Furthermore, they have to reach “expert” level when they go to re-qualify every year. Then, on their own time, and with their own money, they often work to meet the same requirements with a handgun. If these Marines are in an infantry unit, they work with a weapon every day in some capacity.

It’s probably not a secret that I have a concealed carry permit for my handgun. I carry my handgun everywhere I can get away with carrying it. I’m completely unafraid to use it. Over the Independence Day weekend, we held a shooting contest at my home with some friends and family. I competed against my son, who is in the military, and I won. I’m a pretty good shot! I practice once a month for about an hour and try to place the holes on the target close together. However, I do not have to re-qualify every year. I do not receive advanced training for two weeks every year. And I do not have to hit certain places on the targets I bring home every month.

So, why is it that I (a middle aged, out of shape woman with no specialized weapons training) am allowed to carry a weapon with me every minute of my day, yet a young, well-trained, well-conditioned, highly qualified Marine recruiter is not? Meanwhile, this Marine is required to wear a uniform that has become a target of Muslim extremists, and generic crazy people, to work every day!

Unless you are living under a rock, it should be clear that it is time for this absurdity to end. Law 190-14 needs to be rescinded! We need to call this what it is. There is an enemy who has declared war against us, even though our government has announced that the war is over.4 All the statements by presidents and congressmen mean nothing to those who seek to destroy us. Eliminating the right of our military men and women to defend themselves has only made it easier for Islamic extremists to reach their goal – total annihilation.

I’m tired of playing this game. I’m tired of sending our kids into harm’s way by allowing them to go to the recruiting center or the military base. I take this personally – my adult children spend a great deal of their time at military facilities. If God gave them the right to defend themselves, and they have a desire to defend their nation, then by what authority does the Department of Defense tell them they cannot?

~Temerity Dowell

1http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a272176.pdf

2http://www.apd.army.mil/jw2/xmldemo/r190_14/head.asp

3 https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2014/september/fbi-releases-study-on-active-shooter-incidents/pdfs/a-study-of-active-shooter-incidents-in-the-u.s.-between-2000-and-2013

4http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/05/23/obama-global-war-on-terror-is-over