Echoes Trailer

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Today I was thinking about the upcoming weekend and how many people are happy because they will have a three day weekend. I spent some time contemplating Memorial Day and wondering how many people actually pay respect to the war dead who paid the ultimate price to keep our freedom, our families, our friends, and even our dreams safe.

My daughter’s birthday falls on the 30th of May and when she was younger she questioned me about the date of her birth. “Mom, this is just not fair! You were born at New Year’s and everybody was happy. My dad was born just after Christmas and that was a wonderful gift to Grandma. Chris was born in time to celebrate Halloween at the same time and have neat costume parties. Kyle was born close to Valentine’s Day. I get a holiday that makes people think about dead people!” Her statement touched my heart.

Isn’t it a shame that we need a National holiday proclamation to get us to do what we should do on our own? The men and women who serve in the armed forces as well as those who have fallen while wearing the uniform of the armed forces should all have our honor and respect every day. Of course, most of us use this holiday not only to remember those who have given their lives in the line of duty but also everyone we have lost in the battles of life as well.

May seems to be a month for holidays that make us think. We have Mother’s Day, Armed Forces Day, and Memorial Day. When I stopped to think about that I decided they are all linked together and it’s only natural that they be celebrated in the same month. Mothers not only give birth to the sons and daughters that will later protect us by wearing a uniform, they also create the memories those soldiers wrap around them like a cloak to keep them warm when they feel cold and empty inside. On Armed Forces Day, all branches of the U.S. military are honored. Memorial Day ends the month by remembering those who have died while serving our country and those who once served our country even if they didn’t die during their time of service.

My family will end this month with a family barbecue to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and Memorial Day at the same time. We will enjoy the day together and we will take the time to thank a veteran or two for making it possible. Her father is a veteran of the Vietnam War and like a lot of other veterans he’ll probably be working while others take advantage of a reprieve from work. He’ll show up at some point on Memorial Day and we’ll thank him for serving his country, it’s the least we can do. He will nod, almost as if he feels guilty about accepting the gratitude, and proceed to enjoy the festivities. Then a while later someone will see him sitting off away from other people, his head tilted to watch a flag waving in the breeze, and if they look closely they might see a tear or two trickle from his eyes. When he thinks no one is watching he will salute the flag. He did not wear the uniform for glory or recognition; he wore it because he felt he owed his service to his country.

My own father was a veteran of WWII and I will surely be thinking of him and remembering what he often told me as I was growing up. “Forget about the television. Television is for people who don’t have anything to do. Too many people want to watch people on television instead of living.” Today we could replace the television with the computer and it would mean the same thing. Veterans, men and women who believed in freedom, died so that we could go anywhere we want to go, say anything we want to say, and wear anything we want to wear while living anywhere we want to live. The least we can do is to honor them by using the freedom they died to protect.

Thank you to every veteran who reads this and a very Happy 30th birthday to you, Crystal!

© Dianna Doles-Petry

May 27, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Backyard Adventure


"I'm not crazy. I'm perfectly sane!"

I was beginning to feel as if I was sweating it out under big bright lights in a dark interrogation room. They were circling around me asking questions like vultures waiting for someone to fall over dead so they could eat the carcass. "Why were you screaming?" "What happened out there?" "Why is your backside covered in mud?" Oh, the stress they were causing me!

Just moments before I had been serenely sitting outside trying to lure my beautiful house cat, Salem, into my arms. I was beneath a shelter meant to protect assorted ATV's, bicycles, lawn mowers, and just about anything else people like to keep without having it in the house. Just as I picked Salem up and started to make the walk from the shelter to the kitchen door, I felt raindrops start to pound against my skin so hard it actually made my face sting.

"Dianna! Are you out there?" My neighbor yelled from the inside of my kitchen. She tried to open the kitchen door and the wind caught it which forced it out of her hand. It banged against the side of the house and startled poor Salem. He jumped out of my arms and I tried to recapture him before he hit the ground. That's when I felt my feet sliding on the water logged ground.

Just as I felt my ample backside make contact with the wet earth, and not in a graceful manner, something struck out at my pants leg. I was screaming. I could hear myself. Somewhere above the sound of the rain falling on my metal roof, the dogs inside the house barking because they couldn't get outside, and redneck local boys revving up 4-wheelers to go "muddin," I could hear Salem yowling as if he was about to fight a wild cat.

Slipping and sliding all over the ground, I tried to regain my balance to stand up. My hair was wet and hanging from my head like an old kitchen mop and my heart was beating wildly in my chest. I was sure I had been snake-bitten and if I didn't get away quickly it would strike me again.

Saliva started to run out of my mouth. "Oh God," I remember thinking, "Please don't let me die out here in a pouring rain!" Then something landed against the calf of my leg again. This time it attached itself to my pants and I just knew I was a goner! I could almost feel the venom oozing through my bloodstream.

Salem sauntered past me and turned his face to look around, his eyes cool and curious, as I finally managed to stand on my feet. I bent over to scoop him up to save him from the snake I could feel holding onto my leg for dear life. That's when I realized it wasn't a snake at was a toad. It was a small toad. It was a venom-free toad. A small, venom-free, harmless toad.

"Shhh, listen," I urged the interrogators.

"Listen for what?" They weren't listening at all. Nobody listened. I was counting on the fact that they never listen.

"He's getting away! Quick, stop him! Stop that bear!" I yelled out.

"Are you crazy? We're not going out there with a bear! How did a bear even get into the yard?" All of the teenagers in my kitchen, and the neighbor who had long forgotten what she wanted to tell me, were pressed against the window panes and the screen door to keep an eye out for the bear.

I couldn't very well tell them that a poor little toad had nearly given me a heart attack, now could I? A bear chasing me around the yard was a much better story and I'm sure everyone in the neighborhood will be talking about this tomorrow instead of complaining about all the rain we've had lately.

"I'm not crazy. I'm perfectly sane! Really!"

© Dianna Doles-Petry

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day 2010

Tomorrow will be Mother’s Day and I’ve been thinking of my mother, my grandmother, and all of the women who give so much to their children and family as caretakers.

My grandmother had very little in the way of material possessions for most of her life. She knew how to be frugal in order to feed her large family and while I’m sure she often dreamed of what life might be like if she was wealthy, she never expressed those thoughts to me.

I do believe the phrase I heard the most from my grandmother was, “You need to save away for a rainy day!”

My grandmother often wore stockings knotted above the knees to hold them up and she never complained about not having a garter belt. It was not at all unusual to discover her wearing two pairs of stockings at the same time, each pair with a wore out heel that was turned so the holes were on opposite sides.

When I landed my first job, I made it a point to buy my grandmother new stockings for Christmas and I bought her more for each special occasion, often purchasing as many as six pairs at a time. Still, I never saw her wear anything but the worn out stockings around her house.

I often asked if I was buying the right size and color of stockings and every time my grandmother replied, “Yes, Child, they’re just fine. I’ll wear them to church sometime. There’s no sense in ruining good nylons doing chores.”

I had no way of knowing that many of my aunts and cousins were also buying stockings. It wasn’t until she died and the daughters got together to clean out her clothes and personal belongings that drawers filled with brand new hosiery, most of it still unopened, was discovered.

They also found old cigar boxes filled with buttons of every size and shape you could imagine and jelly glasses pushed into every nook and cranny of her kitchen while boxes of new drinking glasses were stored unopened on cabinet shelves.

She had little embroidered hankies in shoe boxes under her bed since that was another gift her grandchildren had been quite generous in giving. One lace hankie was placed in the center of her Bible. It was the one she had carried the day she married my grandfather and she carried it with her to church every time she attended.

She never threw anything away that could be repaired, made over, or used to patch something else. She also never parted with Christmas cards, or birthday cards, or hand-written letters she received in the mail. The attic was full of cardboard boxes that contained those. Maybe she was frugal and holding onto her memories at the same time.

Maybe she was saving them for a rainy day that never came.