Monthly Archives: January 2017
The mind of a soldier, in any branch of the service, is a mind that many of us do not understand. They go into situations that would send most of us running for the nearest hole to hide in, and then…when they write home or call home, they make light of the things they are doing…if they tell their family about their missions at all, because they don’t want to worry their loved ones. Often, if the family finds out about the missions they were on at all, it is years later. Maybe it is that they had to wrap their own minds around the things they had done, before they could tell anyone else about it. My dad, Allen Spencer was that way. In the letters he wrote home to his family, and especially his mother, his words were always very upbeat, very careful not to say the wrong things…things that might make them fear for his life, more than they already did. My nephew, Allen Spencer Beach, my dad’s namesake, is much like his grandfather in that way.
When Allen joined the Navy in 2009, it was to be part of the Naval Air Force. Part of his training was parachuting from a plane. At some point in his training, Allen injured his foot, and while the injury itself would not have stopped him from continuing in his chosen field, it delayed training long enough so that he wouldn’t be able to catch up with his class. It was at this point that Allen decided to become a medic. All of that information was known to most of his family at that time. It was certain parts of Allen’s work after that time that was only known to his family a number of years later. After the 7.0 earthquake that occurred in Haiti on January 12, 2010, Allen was one of the soldiers who was sent in to assist. I think most of us saw pictures of the devastation there, and the loss of life, but I seriously doubt that the news media showed us some of the worst parts of the devastation. It would be too much for many people to bare. I’m sure that is why Allen, like his grandfather, couldn’t tell his mother everything he did or saw. He had to process it himself, and put enough time between the event and his mother’s knowledge of it, so that hopefully she would not worry too much. I also have to wonder if his experience in Haiti is what made him decide to become a medic after his foot injury.
My sister, Caryl Reed, also found out, after the fact, that at one point, her son, Allen was training to be a medic for the Marines. Had he been needed, Allen would have become a medic on the front lines in a war zone. Here again, Allen knew that there needed to be enough time between the event and his mother’s knowledge of it, so she would not have nightmares. When she found out about that, all my sister could think was, “Thank the Lord that he didn’t have to go.” It was a mother’s second worst nightmares…the first being that her son actually goes to the front lines. A soldier has to push their own fear down as deep as they can, and make light of things with their loved ones, because they can imagine the anguish for their family, if they knew that truth…that they are in situations that really scare them, and they have no control over it. It is the experiences we live that help us to decide the direction our life will take. For Allen, what began as a career as maybe a pilot, has changed to a career in several different areas of medicine. From corpsman, to training as a field medic, to studying to be a hospital administrator. Allen left active duty in 2014, and lives in Washington DC, while his wife, Gabby finishes her service, and he finishes his studies. I know he will have a bright future. Today is Allen’s birthday. Happy birthday Allen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have always held a special place of significance in my family, because my mother, Collene Spencer was born on New Year’s Day. We always held a New Year’s Eve party, and I guess as kids, we thought that everyone did that, but it wasn’t so. I know lots of people have a party on New Year’s Eve, but not really as many as I had always thought. Most people just go out to a bar, and celebrate with a large group of people, but that would never have been the same thing in our family. Now that Mom is in Heaven, we still have the party, and as many of us as can, come to it. We do it in honor of Mom, because even though she is in Heaven…it’s still her special day. The traditional beating the pans…which my mom came up with, because we didn’t have noisemakers years ago, just doesn’t feel the same, however. That was always a favorite part for Mom. Once we rang the new year in right, we all go around to each other and wish each other a Happy New Year…and for Mom, a happy birthday. Then we all sang happy birthday to her. Of course, this wasn’t her birthday party…that would come on New Year’s Day. It was a two day celebration in Mom’s honor. Some things just cannot stay the same after the passing of a loved one, and I suppose this is one of them. We can tall Mom happy birthday, but not in person.
Sometimes, I think God places people in our lives for a specific moment and a specific reason. As my husband, Bob and I were leaving Denny’s this morning, after having breakfast, I glanced at a couple sitting in a booth we passed on our way out. At first glance, the woman looked a lot like my mother when she was young…enough so, in fact, that I had to do a double take. Yes, there were similarities, but she didn’t really look enough like Mom to mistake her for my mom after a good look, but I walked out of the restaurant smiling anyway, because it seemed such a sweet gift from God. It was like seeing my mom on her birthday! Of course, I know it wasn’t her, nor did the woman look totally like her, but rather it just seemed like a reminder that she is with God, and that she is very happy. Mom had been on my mind much more than usual for the past several days…probably because of her birthday. Nevertheless, that woman, in that place, for that moment, made me smile, because just for a second, at a quick glance, she reminded me of my mom.
As with my dad, I somehow never expected to live one day on this earth without my mom here on Earth. We were always such a close family, and I never expected that to change, and in reality, I suppose it hasn’t. Rather, we just have to wait to see our parents again. That is the sad part about getting on with life after your parents have gone to Heaven. You have to take the reigns, and lead your family in the way they should go, just like your parents did, but often you still feel like that little daughter would love to ask your parents’ advise about life again. There is a little joke on Facebook about wishing you were a kid again. Basically, I want my mommy and daddy. I’m tired of adulting.” Today would have been my mom’s 81st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom. We love and miss you very much.