Monday, May 25, 2009

Coming Home

Memorial Day can mean many things to people. It was originally set aside as a day to honor the lives of the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. When I was young we called it Decoration Day. We always visited the local cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of family and friends. We took peonies, roses, ferns, iris from our yard. We honored not just military lives lost, but all those who had gone before.

My grandmother always took bleeding heart sprays to place on the grave of her predecessor..Grandpa's first wife who died following surgery in the late 1930's. The bleeding heart plant belonged to her (the first wife) and when Grandma and Grandpa left the farm and moved to town she moved the plant and nurtured it in it's new location. When they moved to another house in the same town several years later, she once again transplanted it. She always referred to it as "Irene's plant" and if it wasn't blooming by Decoration Day (in N.E. Iowa that was most often the case), she still took a couple branches of it to lay on Irene's grave. Even as a child I was touched by her devotion to the memory of Grandpa's first wife. She had become mother to Irene's two daughters as well, so I suppose this was also her way of telling them she respected and honored their mother. It was a lesson that has stayed with me all my life..that there is enough love to go around and encompass need for jealousy or resentments. If I hadn't known better I might have assumed Irene had been Grandma's friend..but they never knew each other in life.

So the first people I honor today are my grandparents, Hugo and Esther Drews, who raised me from the age of five and a half months. They've been gone for 30 years and 16 years and I still miss them terribly. I no longer live close enough to visit their graves, so I do so in my mind.

Today I also honor the service and memory of my step-father, Fred Hess. He enlisted in WWII and this young Iowa farm boy left home and didn't return for four long years. During that time he saw action with the Third Marines at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Iwo Jima. I don't know how he lived through that and still remained such a gentle man. He never wanted to talk about what he had seen and I can imagine why. We lost him to cancer in 1999 and I miss his smile and infectious laugh.
I also want to honor my sons and grandson..all of whom have chosen to serve our country and in the case of two, still do.

By now if you are a reader of my blog, you've heard about and seen pictures of my eldest son, Michael. This January marked his 28th year in the U.S. Army. He has served this country with honor and dedication and great love. He has been sent to Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Albania, Korea and places I don't even know about. He's the kind of leader our military needs and I'm so proud of him.

Mike--basic 1981

My second son, Mark, enlisted in the Army 1981, did his basic and AIT the summer between his Junior and Senior year of High School, then served on active duty from 1982-1986, then re-enlisted after a short time in the reserves and served from 1987-1988.

Mark-basic 1981

My youngest son, Jeff, wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps and reported for basic training in the summer of 1984. He was convinced he wanted to make a career of the Army. Unfortunately while he was still at the reception center, he was one of several young recruits standing on a bleacher when it collapsed. The only person injured was Jeff. A knee that had been compromised previously in a motorcycle accident swelled up like a basketball. After several weeks he was given a medical discharge, much to his great regret.
Jeff-basic 1984

Again, frequent readers of my blog have also read about our grandson, Greg (Mike's son). Greg has lived almost his entire life as part of the Army. He was a member of Junior ROTC in high school and he enlisted following graduation. Greg has served one tour of duty in Iraq (2006-7) and is currently serving in Afghanistan. He re-enlisted a few months ago for another six years.

Greg-basic 2005

As you can see we take great pride in our family's service to our country, however long and in whatever capacity. And we pray each day for the safety of the two still serving as well as all their comrades.

It seems appropriate that last night I finished a quilt I started five years ago that I'm calling "Coming Home". I believe the original name of the pattern I saw in a magazine was "Going Home". I made the top in 2004. Since this is Memorial Day weekend, I think I like the idea of "Coming Home" better. And I think I may know where this quilt will eventually end up.

I used Superior Thread's King Tut in variegated shades of brown and beige to quilt a free hand feather meander all over the quilt. Not sure how well you can see it. It's a large quilt...86 X 96" finished.


Crispy said...

I'm sending a HUGE THANK YOU to your brave family!!


Sunna Reyr said...

Thank you, that was a wonderful post and the quilt is great. Do you quilt on you sewing machine or do you have a big quilting machine? It's good to be back. lol.

Barb said...

You certainly have alot to be proud of and someone instilled in your family great pride for their country. I wish we had more of that. Love the quilt as well.