Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quilt of Valor #5: Full Circle

     There are really few times when I am rendered speechless. Even in this situation, I'm not so much speechless as I am awestruck. Because of this, I have struggled more than a couple of days to complete this post to let you know about the Quilt of Valor's last leg of its journey. I may be breaking my old teacher rule to "show don't tell" this story, but like I said, I'm really a loss for words...sort of.

    The simple idea to be a part of an organization that wants to offer some comfort to soldiers has melded into something on a scale I can't comprehend just yet.  Yes, this foundation did start as a small idea  from an individual and has mushroomed to reach so many. It would be so cool to such a "mustard seed."  We can all names such beginnings: Race for Cure, TOM Shoes....  
     But I am really getting away from my point.   This small idea to help a soldier may have been spurred by the  QOV Foundation, but my solitary motions triggered even more actions by others not even associated with the initial program. 

     Once I finished my quilt, I wanted to make sure that I made a personal connection, so I asked my brother (a retired Army Colonel) if he had  any ideas. He gave me a name of a Colorado Guard chaplain. Through emails and facebook messages, I eventually reached her.. I trusted this young chaplain to find a recipient.  She took it to several co-chaplains, and how the name was chosen was out of my hands. But in those few remaining days, my family was met with a grandmother's death and so too the chaplain  experienced the same loss.  Responsibilities of such events over and above this small mission created a break in the process.   This just had to take a backseat. Even so, the machinations were still spinning to completion.   The details were sketchy, erratic and by the morning of 9/11 I thought  the final delivery might not happen as I planned.  I tried to soften the disappointment with the idea that I at least met my goal to have it ready on that day.  (You can read my other QOV posts about why the date held more than the obvious reason.)

     At literally  "the 11th hour" I reached SSG May's wife through email. I think she must have recognized my desperation (or was it obsession?) to get this to her husband that day..  How trusting! She sent me directions to her house.  

     I'm not going to go into Marty's story to tug your heart strings and make you feel bad that you're feeling sorry for yourself.  He's the first one to admit there are many worse off than himself. I don't want to start a "his story is worse than your story" tug of war.  His experience is not much different than any soldier injured in a theater of war, but  the details of his story are unique to him. However,  it's his willingness to plod on to whatever his unknown  future holds, with not only his own strength, but also to hang on tightly to those who stand by him; in this case, his wife Wendy and his 3 children. He is a symbol of so many, yet I can't shake that he is just an individual, an THAT is just as important.

     We visited for over and hour in their kitchen, listening and connecting. Three strangers left as friends. We "friended" each other on Facebook, and I received one special message that Marty was curled up on the couch wrapped in his quilt in the waning colder morning hours,  "silently going out of his mind" waiting for the email that would determine his "rating" with the VA and the Army that could sink or keep afloat an uncertain future for him and his family.  

     We will always live in a world of doubt,  global unrest, indifference, family grief, economical woes, bureaucratic red tape. The media is bereft with such problems. We all experience them in our daily lives.  As we peel away that onion of life (my sweet brother's analogy) we meet individuals and make a tiny connection of commonality. This is the core of our existence...what's important. At least I think that is the reason for my  awe in the experience. The quilt was just the catalyst; meeting Martin and Wendy May was the result that matters. The realization that working with a string of unknown individuals can create a special moment for another. That magic maze of humanity circles right back to the beginning and sends currents of change to everyone involved. What a blessing to us all to have the ability to experience this connection to each other! I wish you all happy connections!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Quilt of Valor #4: Points and Borders

     I meant to post this on July 4th, and not until today did I realize it was a draft.  I have been absent from here far too long and I am finally getting my mojo back to keep going. hope to still see you here.

As a promise to myself, I finished the top today. It only required a strip of ribbon points on all sides and a solid border all around. It has been a fast and furious month full of family obligations in which I was not able to work on the quilt at all. I knew I would have only a day or two to complete this task.
     My thoughts about the soldier receiving this quilt was a bit sidelined in the past few days, because my dearest friend (my long-arm friend)  has been evacuated from their beautiful mountain home in Wyoming.  With so many fires in the west right now this fire was getting little attention. It has now grown to the third most active fire in the nation, but there has been nothing in the news about this one. I have been glued to the tiny maps on the information website trying to see where the fire is going. My eyes strain to focus while I try to figure out which dot or X's is their hourse or fence.  It has been a search of points and borders of another kind. 
     As I continue on that thought of points and borders, I drift into how we have become a nation of pushing our points across to each other and the building up of borders to keep us from our neighbors. Whether it is a political division, or  a marital spat, or just a traffic lane change, we seem to take on a it's my way or no way. We may listen to, shake our heads at, and even pray for those devestated by fires, or battles, but very quickly we get back to our own lives and pay no attention to those around us. I'm usually wrapped up in my own sorrow that accompanies this day, and I forget that there is a soldier that will one day get this quilt who is fighting whatever battles still may remain with him or her.  I was stopped in my tracks to switch into a prayer and wait and see mode for my friend.   I remember hearing some saying that goes somewhat like this, "Be kind to everyone you meet because they too are fighting some battle." 
     A call this morning did give bittersweet news from Wyoming: she's fine and their home is okay...for now, but their old homestead ranch where she grew up and her brother lived was completely destroyed. It will still be a long wait until they are able to see their home and assess the damage to livestock and buildings and a lifetime of memories. Although this is usually a tough anniversary day for me and my family, my tears flow for my dear friend today.