We look back on the wars of the past and where we fought them, and no matter how hard we try to cover up those places…to erase the past as it were, the earth remembers. My dad was stationed at Great Ashfield in Suffolk, England during World War II. That was a very busy place in those days, and the people who lived there during the war were grateful to the men of the 8th Air Force. Great Ashfield was largely a B-17 base, and the towns around the base were fairly safe, because the 8th Air Force was very capable and much feared. Their very presence made people feel safer, in a time when feeling safe was…well, a precious commodity.

The area where the air base was at that time is still marked by the memorials to the men who kept them safe during that awful time. A beautiful sign decorated with a B-17 Bomber still marks the Great Ashfield Gate. It is a tribute to those great men who fought and died to protect the lives of people they didn’t even know. Fighting for people they don’t even know is after all the core of every person in the military. It is maybe something we civilians don’t really understand…until someone steps up and does it for us. That is how those people felt, and why they continue to honor those great men to this day…the earth remembers.

I looked Great Ashfield up on Google Earth. We are blessed today to have the ability to take a virtual tour of places we might never have seen otherwise. When I first looked it up, while I was making a book of my dad’s war days for my dad and my Uncle Bill, all you could see was from the air, and while the air base is no longer an air base, you can still see exactly where it was, and a small part of it is still used for small planes today…the earth remembers.

Tonight as I write this I looked it up again, and now you can actually get right down to the edge of the base, as if you were standing right there. Google Earth now takes those street views, and Great Ashfield is one of them they have done. As I looked at the edge of the base, tears came up in my eyes, and I got a lump in my throat, because I knew that this was a place where my dad had walked…his old stomping grounds, as the old saying goes. Dad had told me about three Poplar trees at the end of the runway, and all the men knew that when you saw those three Poplar trees, you were safe. The enemy wouldn’t dare follow you here. As I stood there at the edge of the base, looking around the area, I was almost dumbfounded when those same three Poplar trees came into view…just like in the pictures I had found. They are still there to this day, as a reminder, at least to me that my dad always made it safely home…the earth remembers, and so do I.

These days is people want to dance, they go to a bar. Yes, most people want to drink, but not everyone wants to go to a bar to do it. When my parents were dating, they often double dated with her sister, my Aunt Evelyn and brother-in-law, my Uncle George. They loved to go dancing. Back then there were several balls that were held, such as the Military Ball or the Fireman’s Ball.

They had the opportunity to dress up in uniforms and ball gowns, or dress suits and ball gowns, and go out and enjoy a long night if dancing and socializing. I know that my parents enjoyed these dances, because they continued to go when we were kids growing up. I remember them even after we were old enough to stay alone. Ballroom dancing seems to be a thing of the past now, although I’m sure there are places where the still hold balls and dance those old and very beautiful dances, but they are becoming fewer and fewer.

I also know, from my cousin Shirley that her parents, my dad’s sister, Ruth and brother-in-law, Jim enjoyed going with them to those Firemen’s Balls and other dances as well, sometimes the kids even got to go along. A rare but exciting event. We, who had the opportunity to go along, will always remember how very cool it was.

There are other dances that people go to that are a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong. Square dances, and bar room dances are all great, but the elegance of ballroom dancing is all but gone from our society and our dance style. Even at proms and other school dances, while the gowns are elegant, the dancing is formless, with free style steps. Anyone can create their own dance…or just move around and no one thinks anything of it, but looking back in time, I can see something others might not…elegance lost.

Sixteen years ago, my youngest daughter married her best friend, Travis. It is hard for me to believe that it has been sixteen years. I remember thinking how young they both were, but with them, it didn’t seem to matter. I suppose that is a very common thing for a mother to think when her daughter gets married. It is inevitable that you children never seem old enough to get married. Nevertheless, they were very much in love, and they have stayed very much in love all these years. Today is the 16th Anniversary of that marriage, and it has been a blessed union.

They have both worked very hard over the years to give their family the best they can afford, but more than they, they give their family love…and just as important, laughter. Their union has been blessed with 2 children, my only granddaughter Shai, and her brother Caalab. The kids are as quick witted as their parents, and that makes for lots of joking around. I remember stopping by to pick up one or both of the kids, and hearing the laughter coming from inside, quite often. You see, Travis is a bit of a class clown type, and that makes for a home filled with joking and laughter. That is not a bad thing. I think that if a family can laugh about life, they are far better able to keep their family life strong, and possibly more sane…although that might be argued by some.

In a time when many marriages fail within a year or two, their marriage becomes more and more rare with each passing year. I guess that just goes to show that with hard work and much love a marriage can grow stronger through the passing years and can stand the test of time. You just need to focus on the one you love, and not the distractions that try to come into your lives, and be true to your spouse, and you can make it. That is just what they have done, and I am very proud of both of them.

Beyond the laughter, I can say that even though sometimes there were tough times, that weathered the storms of life and came out on the other side…still in love. The kids who I wasn’t sure were ready for marriage are gone now, and in their place are two grown up, hard working people who can be counted on in times of trouble, as well as in the good times, to be an irreplaceable part of our family and a great blessing to all who know them. Happy 16th Anniversary Amy and Travis!!

When our children are little, we don’t know who they will grow up to be. We hope they will be responsible people, who will be there for those who need them. We hope they will be the kind of people who will leave this world a better place than they found it, but when they are just little, you don’t know. You try your best to raise them in the way that will make them successful and responsible, as well as capable of handling whatever comes their way. As every parent knows, children do not come with instruction manuals, which leaves their parents on uncharted waters. So you do your best and pray that your meager ability is enough. My prayers were answered in abundance. My children and grandchildren are the best. I am truly blessed.

Of course, the child has something to do with who they turn out to be as well, perhaps even more than we do in the end, and that is when they can become truly amazing. My girls amaze me every day. They have grown into compassionate, caring people, who help others in a selfless manner. I could not get the things done that I need to do, if they were not there for me, and willing to help me with the many important things involved in caring for elderly parents. Many things would not get done, or would be done poorly, without them.

I think that the way a child handles caring for their grandparents is a good indicator of how their own parents can expect to be cared for when their time comes. If that is true, I know that my daughters and my grandchildren, who have also all pitched in to help with their great grandparents, will be loving and compassionate to me and my husband. I just hope that I can stay healthy and active enough to make it a very long wait for that needed care. Nevertheless, I know they will be there.

As I write this, my children, grandchildren, sister and sisters-in-law, have taken over the load, so that Bob and I can get away for a 4 day weekend in Denver. I am so blessed. My family is the greatest in the world, and I want them to know that I love them more than words can say.

My sister-in-law, Debbie was injured at work about 10 years ago, when she fell while carrying a heavy crate. She has had back problems and multiple surgeries in the years since that injury, and has been unable to work or stay in one position for very long. It has been a long, hard road for her, and her family, all of whom have helped her through this ordeal.

On August 30th, the day after his 82nd birthday, my father-in-law, Debbie’s dad, was struck with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). While BPPV is not life threatening, it is seriously problematic. BPPV is a condition that brings on dizziness…the kind that makes it almost impossible to locate a safe place to sit down. It also brings with it, nausea that will quickly bring a strong man to his knees. The condition comes and goes throughout the day, and is the worst right after standing up from a sitting position, making its victim a serious fall risk.

Immediately after the first episode, I recruited the family to take turns staying with my in-laws, until we could figure out what to do about this. We heard from my mother-in-law’s respite care giver, about the Dizziness and Balance Clinic at Wind City Physical Therapy. We made an appointment with them, and a wonderful therapist named Kathy, did two treatments on my father-in-law. She showed me how to treat him at home, and we are now in the midst of daily treatments to fight off the dizziness…and it is working well. In the interim, however, my father-in-law has fallen twice, and we just can’t leave them alone safely at this time. It is hard for people who work to be caregivers during the work day, and that is where my sister-in-law, Debbie comes in.

Debbie came down from Powell for a doctor’s appointment in Casper.  She usually stays with my in-laws. She came to town last Saturday and was to leave this Saturday, but after seeing how bad things were here and knowing that everyone needed to go back to work, she has not only stayed all week, but will likely stay until Wednesday of the coming week. While it is hard for her to do a lot things, she has really stepped up and set aside her own pain to do many things for her parents, so that my father-in-law will not have to try to get up and down too much. Many people might not think that cooking and straightening are a big deal, but my father-in-law is normally the one who does all the household chores, since my mother-in-law can’t help with things like she used to. Debbie has also taken on the blood sugar checks, day time meds, and helping her mom with grooming. The things Debbie has done, are monumental in the situation in which we currently find ourselves. I want to thank Debbie for her sacrifice. She has been a tremendous help in a time of serious need. Love you Debbie!!

My Dad took such pride in his back yard. It was a sanctuary for him and my mom. Peaceful and quite, they could get away from the hectic day there. In the summertime, we would often eat dinner out there, because it was a lovely back yard. Mom and Dad always liked to work in the yard, planting flowers, and creating rock gardens…all the things that give a feeling of peace.

Not being a gardening type myself, I nevertheless always appreciate beautiful gardens and yards, especially if I don’t have to get them looking that way. My parents always took that great pride in their yard and garden, and it showed. Of course, in my younger years, I hated that we had to help with the yard and garden work, and I probably didn’t give it my best efforts. I liked just about anything better than gardening and yet that was what the family was doing, and they required my help. Now it is my sisters and our families who take care of my mom’s yard. Once a year we get together and do a major clean up in preparation for the coming summer, and before the snow falls, my daughter, grandsons, Bob and I rake and dispose of the leaves. Afterwards, we have lunch in the back yard, and think back on all the lovely times we had out there over the years.

Dad and Mom created their back yard as a haven where the family could gather in our own private…almost campground kind of place, and just enjoy being together. The best memories find my dad at the grill, cooking hamburgers or steaks for dinner, the girls in the kitchen preparing the rest of the meal, and when all is ready, we sit around the picnic table and talk and laugh. Then of course, there is sitting around the fire, or back then the grill, and roasting marshmallows until it got so late that we had to go to bed.

Yes, our family always loved camping, and Dad and Mom made the back yard into an extension of that favorite thing to do, in an effort to incorporate that beloved activity into our everyday lives, and thereby bring the family closer together. A pretty wise move, since we are all still very close to this day. I guess you could say that it was a legacy that they could leave for their kids, and a living legacy of my mom, who is still with us. It is with a grateful heart that I look back on the memories created in the back yard.

Bob’s great grandfather, Edgar Knox was an unusual person. He was the type of person who just never quit, never gave up on life. I only met him on that one visit, but that in itself was an amazing thing. He and great grandma traveled from Yakima, Washington to Casper, Wyoming for a visit in July of 1976, when my youngest daughter, Amy was just a month old, and my oldest daughter was 1 year old. They came down with Bob’s great aunt and uncle, Helen and Frank, but I still call the trip amazing in that Great Grandpa Knox was 93 years old at the time it took place, and yet he didn’t seem like he was a day over 70.

He and Great Grandma Knox still lived in their own home, just the two of them, with no help. They were both fully able to handle life on their own. Their home was beautiful, and well kept. He tinkered around the house keeping things maintained, while Great Grandma kept the inside of the house in perfect order and gave it that warm and welcoming feeling.

We enjoyed the time spent with them so much, that we made plans to travel to Yakima to visit them again. It just wasn’t often that you had the chance to spend time with someone his age that was so full of life, and we wanted that chance again. Unfortunately, that was not to be. When Great Grandpa got back to Yakima, he once again started doing some things around the house to prepare it for the winter months, and while cleaning out the gutters, up on a ladder, he fell and broke his hip. He was taken to the hospital, and seemed to be doing ok, but went into shock and was quickly gone.

We grieved the loss of this wonderful man, but made the decision to go on the trip anyway. It was a good decision. We had a wonderful visit with Great Grandma Knox, even though it was overshadowed with some grief, but we all agreed that Great Grandpa had lived a very full life. Going home at the grand old age of 93 years, isn’t the worst thing that can happen, when that life was one filled with activity, strength, and one’s full faculties right up to the end. While we missed him on that visit, we were always glad we came, because I think it was what he would have wanted.

Like most Americans, I spent part of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks watching old footage of the attacks. Several things struck me looking back on those 102 minutes in time. It’s easy to see things like mistakes made, when you have the advantage of hind site, but at the time, everyone was operating under the normal procedures for emergency situations for the pre-September 11, 2001 world. We, however, no longer live in the same world we woke up in, on that Tuesday morning 10 years ago.

We had been taught that in a hijack situation, you cooperate with the hijackers, and you would most likely be freed when they got where they wanted to go. Of course, it had been quite a number of years since an airplane had been hijacked in the United States…and we had become complacent…assuming that it would never happen again…but we were wrong.

We had been taught that in emergency situations, stay where you are and help will be sent to you. It was all we knew. In reality, for anyone below the impact floors, evacuating immediately would have been the best thing to do. There was almost an hour from strike to collapse of World Trade Center Two…even longer for World Trade Center One. No one ever considered that the building could collapse, so many people were told to stay put. Listening to the recordings, makes me think about how awful those dispatchers must feel, knowing that the people they told to stay put, died because they didn’t evacuate the building. I’m not blaming the dispatcher, they were taught to keep people calm and in place until help comes to them. I also realize that there were people who were injured or otherwise incapable of getting out, and help had to come to them, but the able bodied citizen needed to be told to get out and take anyone they could with them.

I was struck with a renewed sense of shock when the towers fell. It seemed to be in slow motion, and very surreal, almost as if it wasn’t so, but was just a bad dream, like the dreams people have sometimes about falling, and they they wake up. Even though I knew it happened, and have lived with that reality for 10 years, it still didn’t seem possible…or real.

The rules all changed on September 11, 2001. We now have to each assess the situation we find ourselves in, and take the proper action for that situation. There is no norm. The new kind of terrorist and the new kind of war are the new norm, and they are sneaky and devious. We must be ever alert. Our survival could depend on it.

Like most people, I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing when the news came out about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. I was at home, my grandchildren were just arriving to await the time to go to school. I was getting ready for work and to take them to school. Kevin, my daughter Corrie’s husband, called to tell us that there were fires at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I remember saying, “How can that be? They are nowhere near each other!” I couldn’t wrap my mind around how that could be, until we learned that it was planes and terrorist attacks.

I remember feeling stunned all day, and for the next several days as well. Thoughts of all the people killed in the attack haunted me all day. I felt a deep sense of dread and pain for the families who had lost so much. Like most Americans, I wished I had a way to help, but I didn’t know of one, and I was needed at home. So I prayed, constantly for the people still trapped, as well as the dead, dying, their families, and our country.

As I look back on all that horror today, and listen to the people who complain about airport security, I have to wonder what they are thinking. It was complacency that opened our country up for those attacks. And it will be complacency that will bring them on again. If we are going to protect ourselves, and our country, we must stay ever alert.

And when I hear people saying that we should not profile those we search, I say, “Wake up!!” If we go into most other countries, we are looked at differently than their citizens. And while I am not racist, I feel like anyone who looks like they have an Arab background, needs to understand that if they are not a terrorist…then, we are doing this to protect them too. The rules have changed so much since that day, 10 years ago, when we found out the we can’t afford to be so trusting. We all need to be more understanding of those trying to protect us, and stop trying to make their lives more difficult. They are, after all, just doing their job like everyone else.

In a perfect world, none of this would be necessary, but in a perfect world, we would not have lost 2,819 people in one day, as the result of one planned terrorist attack. We don’t live in a perfect world, unfortunately, and there are people out there that hate us. I think we owe it to those who lost their lives to do our very best to make sure it never happens again.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The memory of those attacks and those who lost their lives should be as vivid in our memories as they were 10 years ago, or 10 years from now. We must never forget!!

When Christopher was little, he wanted a baby brother very badly. His cousin Shai, who he spent a lot of time with had a little brother, and Christopher really wanted one too.  A cousin can’t really compare to a brother of your own. When Corrie and Kevin found out that they were going to have another baby, they began talking to Christopher about being a big brother, and when they found out the baby was a boy, they began calling him by his name, Josh…so Christopher would already know it. It was a happy time, and Christopher was a happy boy. He was finally getting a brother too…just like Shai had!!

When Josh’s arrival came 5 weeks sooner that it should have, Christopher was taken to his Aunty Amy’s, and then when Josh had to be taken to Denver, due to immature lungs. Since Corrie was still in the hospital and Kevin had gone to Denver to be with Josh, Christopher came home with Bob and me. Corrie and Kevin had enough on their minds, and we wanted to assure them Christopher would be just fine. We then made plans to take Corrie down to Denver the next day when she was released from the hospital. We took Christopher to Denver too so he could see his new brother.

We stayed over night in Denver, and Christopher stayed at the hospital with Corrie and Kevin. We had one more visit to our little Josh, then Bob, Christopher, and I went back to Casper while Corrie and Kevin stayed to be with Josh. They would be there 2 weeks before Josh would be able to come home. They called Christopher every night to talk with him and tell him about his brother, but mostly to tell him they loved him and would be home soon.

Unfortunately, 2 weeks can be a very long time to a little boy who is only 2 1/2 years old. Corrie and Kevin tried to make him understand how much they loved him too, but he had seen their new baby and their new house, and he thought they didn’t want him any more. After two weeks of “living” with his “new family” he literally cried at the drop of a hat…his when it didn’t stay on his head. It broke my heart to see him so torn up. He just needed his mommy and daddy. He missed them so much, and just in time, they were able to come home.

Christopher was so happy to have his family back. And the really good news was that they brought that little brother that he had been wanting so badly. Most importantly though, his mommy and daddy still wanted him too. Christopher was the happiest boy ever. All was right in his world. It just doesn’t get any better.

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