Oct 292009
 

This post is dedicated to my new blog friend, Joelle.


My college experience was a little….vague. I am told that I had an excellent time, but I can’t be sure. Mercifully, I mostly recall college as a seven year black out, but sometimes a memory of something I did, said, or worse, WORE, hits me like a wave of nausea, and I marvel at how I made it out of there alive.

Throughout college I had this sweet little ritual where I’d enjoy a couple dozen drinks and then go for a walk, perhaps at 3 am. And then, usually, I’d get lost and decide to go ahead and sleep in a cozy parking lot or under a tree somewhere in town. It was like camping, except without a tent, clue, or functioning liver. There must have been a strict No Camping rule in my college town though, because I was often awakened by annoyed men and women with guns. These uniformed bandits were not my parents, although it would take me a good three minutes to understand this. They would ask me why I was on the ground and I would assure them that I planned to explain just as soon as they told me where we all were, and also, my name.

Fortunately they actually would be able to teach me my name because, well, we’d met before. We went way back. And they’d invite me into the back of their cozy car and put shiny silver handcuffs on me. And I would sort of settle in and ask them how their families were, and they’d tell me. They liked me, and I liked them. I went to school in a sleepy little town, and so I like to think that maybe the night police shift was glad to have the company.

So we’d continue to catch up and all would go smoothly, but inevitably during the ride to my new camping spot my officers would get frustrated. Because every time they turned around to check on me, my handcuffs would be off and placed in a tidy pile on the seat beside me. So they’d stop the car and put them back on. And I’d take them back off. My wrists are very small and I had decided that while it may have been silly for one to sleep under a tree in January, it was ridiculous for one to PRETEND that one is handcuffed. I just couldn’t fake it, though I did try for the sake of my police friends. I have a paralyzing respect for authority, so I was always vehemently on their side. But they really were going to have to do better with the handcuffs. I understood that they weren’t arresting child sized people often, but still. I explained that it was probably important to be better prepared.

{A few years ago, Craig and I were watching Cops and I noticed that police forces had started using plastic cuffs that look like garbage bag ties which close more tightly. I got very excited and told Craig that I was positive that the plastic tie handcuff innovation was inspired by me and my mini wrists. He stared, as always, and then asked me to never share that theory with anyone. But it’s hard not to discuss what may have been a real contribution to the law enforcement community on my part.}

When we got to the station I would say hello to Tom and Carla, who were often in charge of checking me in. “Booking,” I believe they called it. They were lovely people, just lovely. And they’d lead me into my very own private cell which made me feel like a bit of a celebrity, to tell you the truth. Special treatment, you know. One time, after having been there for a few hours I called Carla over and asked her if I could be released early for good behavior. I’d been quite well behaved that night, if I did so say myself. She said no, it didn’t work that way. But she did agree that I was being especially good, so she shared her granola bar with me. I was deeply touched.

Eventually I’d fall asleep and I’d awake in the morning and call my long suffering friend Dana, who had always wisely slipped an index card with our phone number into my back pocket. And she’d pick me up and we’d go to Waffle House and discuss what we were going to wear that night.

Wow. Strange, but true.

I started thinking of these stories yesterday when I got an email from a woman who is a sheriff deputy and reads this blog daily. In her email she thanked me for inspiring her. I was up all night thinking about her and how proud I am that she’s reading my blog. I forwarded her email to my dad with the subject line: DAD- THE POLICE ARE READING MY BLOG! which was probably so much more enjoyable for him to receive than my usual announcement “DAD- THE POLICE ARE READING MY RIGHTS!”

You guys, I don’t want to sound boastful, but I think I’m finally coming up in the world.

Joelle, Tom, Carla, Grandpa, and every other kind and dedicated officer. Thank you. Thank you for protecting me from bad guys, even when the bad guy is me. Thank you for serving so bravely and honorably. Thank you for improving all of my camping experiences exponentially. And thank you, especially, for the granola bar. I was really hungry. I appreciate you.

Nov 052009
 



Wednesday is Veteran’s day. I’d like to start celebrating veterans today, though, and keep celebrating for the next several days. One day is just not long enough.


This post is dedicated to Hugh Curtis Newton and his little girl, Kelly.


I was going through some old boxes last night and found a letter I wrote to my friend Cathy’s husband, Paul. When I was a new third grade teacher at Annandale Terrace Elementary School, Cathy was my role model. She was a dedicated teacher who spoke her mind clearly and respectfully, with a bit of a southern drawl. She loved her husband, children, country, friends, and students and didn’t waste much time talking about anything else. Cathy was tough, but also warm and very funny. I loved her. I told her all the time that I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She always reminded that it was time, because in fact, I was grown up. I usually told her that I wasn’t quite ready yet, but I was taking careful notes.

Cathy moved away when her husband, Paul, was deployed to Baghdad for a year tour of duty. Paul was a Lieutenant Colonel with the 47th Forward Support Battalion. Cathy and Paul were smitten with each other. They had been married for something like 15 years, but they always acted like freshmen on their first date. When Paul came to meet us for happy hour, Cathy would sneak off to the bathroom to fix her hair and lipstick before he arrived. Her eyes would light up when Paul walked into the restaurant and he would always pat her on the bottom when he thought we weren’t watching. They’d often hold hands and flirt, teasing each other just so they could make up and kiss. They’d always leave early because they “missed their kids,” but I always suspected they were going to make out somewhere. They were magic to me. When Cathy told me that they were moving and Paul was being deployed, I told her that I was devastated for her and the kids, but really I was devastated for myself. Cathy didn’t complain. She said she was sad, but mostly proud of her husband and his soldiers. It was always clear that Paul was Cathy’s hero in more ways than one.

The Hurleys moved and the year dragged on. I lost touch with Cathy but thought of her family every night as I watched the news stories about the war. One evening I decided that my students and I would send care packages to Lieutenant Colonel Hurley’s troops, because that seemed like something Cathy would do. The Annandale Terrace student body is made up of recent immigrants, many of whom came from the Middle East. It is a school full of children who have seen much, and tend to be decades ahead of American children in terms of world wisdom. Most of my students understood war, and they understood what the soldiers were sacrificing. They wanted to say thank you, and I wanted to help them.

We ended up sending a huge package filled with phone cards, sweets, and magazines. Each of my students wrote a thank you letter to a soldier. The students from the Middle East wrote about the families they had left behind and thanked the soldiers for fighting for their grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, mothers, and fathers who couldn’t fight for themselves, The students’ letters were tear -your –heart- open beautiful. I cried as I read them one last time and placed them in the box to be mailed. Here’s the letter I wrote to accompany theirs.


1/25/04

Dear Lieutenant Colonel Hurley,

My name is Glennon Doyle Melton. I had the honor of teaching with your extraordinary wife, Cathy, at Annandale Terrace Elementary, and I got to know your beautiful family one afternoon when I helped with S…’s birthday party. Cathy has been a role model for me as a teacher, wife, and mother. Her strength, humor, and fierce loyalty to you and your children continue to be an inspiration to me. I also respect greatly her passion for you. It always seemed to me that you treated each other with the respect and affection of a couple falling in love. After you moved, I got married and had a little boy of my own, and I’m going to try my hardest to recreate what you two have with each other and with your children.

I am not sure how to begin to thank you and the incredible men and women with you for your bravery, honor, and sacrifices. Before September 11 and the war in Iraq, I and many other Americans believed that our lives, liberties, and happiness were God given, inalienable rights. We know better now. We know that these were never rights, but priceless gifts bestowed on us by you, our American soldiers. As we continue with our lives in the states, please know that we do so with a new awareness that we owe every peaceful moment to you. You are the reason that we are free to work and pray and hold our children. You are the reason that the families of my immigrant students came to America to find hope. You are the reason that Americans sleep in peace. Because you are there, we are here, safe and eternally grateful.

My students and I heard that you might need some phone cards to contact your families. When you call them, please thank them for us. We know that we are surrounded by warriors on the home front, and that their daily sacrifices make it possible for you to protect us. Your wives, husbands, and children are also our heroes.

I was told that you might also need some reading materials. The Maxims and FHMs were collected by my husband’s friends, not my students!I wasn’t going to send these racy magazines, but Craig demanded it. He insisted your guys would want them, and that soldiers in a strange land should be able to read whatever the hell they want. I agree.

We love you. We are proud of you. We will pray for your safety until you return in May.

Godspeed,

Glennon Melton, Victoria Curtis, and the Annandale Terrace Third Graders


Tomorrow I’ll post the letter we received from Lieutenant Colonel Hurley and the 47th Forward Support Battalion. It’ll knock your socks off.

If you have a friend or family member who is a veteran, would you comment and post his or her name? I’d like to know about them, and keep a gratitude list of their names.

Thank you.

Nov 062009
 


This post is dedicated to the thirteen who fell yesterday, with desperate prayers that those left behind will find some light to see by.


If you didn’t stop by Momastery yesterday, please read this first.


4/28/04

Dear Glennon, Victoria, and the Annandale Terrace third graders,

Thank you, very, very much for the great box of magazines, phone cards and letters! What a morale booster! As you can probably guess, this past year has taken a toll upon our great soldiers here in Baghdad, Iraq. Your kindness and generosity make a real difference and remind us that we are loved and that there is life after our tour in Iraq.

Just so you know the impact of your kindness, I want to explain what we’ve done with your gifts. Of course the magazines are always a big hit. The men especially want to thank your husband and his friends for their excellent taste in reading material! I had people knocking on my door begging for the magazines all night so I finally surrendered and put the boxes in the hallway. The letters from the third graders will be passed out to single soldiers who don’t have anyone to receive letters from. You would not believe what an incredible impact these letters have on someone who has nobody to care for them or to write to them – and we have many within the battalion. Lastly, we distributed the phone cards to those soldiers who we’ve identified as having family issues or separation issues to ensure that they are able to make it through the end of the deployment. Your kindness, quite literally, will help some of our married soldiers stay married by offering them a chance to tell their spouses they love them when they would otherwise not have the money to do so. It will help our single parents stay in touch with the children they had to leave with other families prior to deployment. It will help our young soldiers who are having a difficult time coping with the harsh realities of war, by offering them a chance to call home and talk with loved ones. In short, you may not have realized it, but you have touched many lives in a powerful way.

Please tell the other teachers at Annandale Terrace that all of you can be proud of our young American kids. Our American kids- our soldiers – have given the Iraqi people hope through their example. These young soldiers, many of whom are so young that they could have been your students a few years ago, display everything that is right about America. Their compassion, sense of fairness, and ethnic and religious tolerance are a model of what Iraq will someday be like. As the teachers who helped mold these Americans, you can and should be proud.

Lastly, on a personal note, I would like to thank all of you for thinking of us. Your letter was both an inspiration and a blessing, I have nightly meetings with all the key leaders of the battalion and I read excerpts of the letter to all of them. Two of the women who work for me started crying and then the men started misting up – which they promptly cursed the women for. Okay, so now you have the picture…a bunch of hardened veterans after a year in combat getting misty during a meeting over your letter. We were all a little shocked. Your words clearly had an impact on all of us and for that we will forever be thankful.

Thank you also for the kind words about Cathy. She is the real hero among us. From consoling the wives and children of soldiers who didn’t make it and will never return to their families, to crying with mothers who lost one of their children during our deployment, to caring for the spouses who broke under the stress of seeing their loved ones in combat, she has done it all. She is the bravest person I know and I fall in love with her again each day.

Thanks again for being there for us,

Paul Hurley



There are many Cathys at Fort Hood today, comforting the children, spouses, and friends of those who died yesterday. I bet they’ve been up all night. Let’s pray for the Cathys today.

Love,
G