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Posts Tagged ‘anniversary’

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Today, September 10, marks the 13th Anniversary since the last day the United States was “normal.” I am not really sure what I was doing on September 10, 2001 specifically. I dropped my son off at the high school – not sure if I took my daughter or if she caught a ride with her friends. I took my youngest to middle school. It was a Monday so I went to work at my church. And I was still fresh off my trip to my brother’s funeral in Alabama. There were still sad moments during the day. I worked my three hours and went home to grab lunch. More than likely, I turned the television on to watch the rest of the noon news before one of my daytime shows started. I’m sure I fixed dinner that evening after my husband and kids were home from work and school.

According to USA Today’s online article “The Day Before,” items that the American people were reading about or watching on the news concerned the trial of actor Robert Blake, suicide bombings in Istanbul, Michael Jackson’s first live concert in quite awhile at Madison Square Garden, and President Bush’s trip to Florida. It was by all accounts, a day just like thousands of days that had come before. But that would all soon change.

Just like those alive on December 7, 1941 or November 22, 1963, we all know where we were and what we were doing the morning of September 11. I’ve written before of my memories and thoughts. Before we realized it, whatever we considered “normal” was gone. For many days the airspace over my house – close to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – was silent. Growing up near an air base in Ohio and living in my present home for so long, airplane noise had always been normal for me. The silence overhead was eerie. People walked around with a look on their face as if they didn’t know whether to be sad, confused, or angry. Everyone wanted to talk about it. Most of us were glued to our televisions as those horrific scenes were played over and over again and listened to the stories of those who had escaped from the towers, the Pentagon, or had heard their loved one’s last words via a cell phone high above a Pennsylvania field.

When the airlines began flying again, instead of the “normal” sounds above, I would look up and wonder if there would be another plane right on the heels of 9/11. What used to be normal for travelers had all changed. There was a list of banned items, new rules and restrictions in place for luggage, and no way to see your loved one’s off in the terminal just before boarding. When family would fly in to D/FW in order to catch another flight somewhere else, there wasn’t any way that I could go visit with them until they left; it just wasn’t allowed anymore.

Children grew frightened. The American people pulled together – at least for a short time – because it was OUR country that was attacked; OUR people were killed; OUR airlines were hijacked. Churches were packed with people looking for answers and praying for the nation.

And normal now? Homeland Security Agency – part of the government that didn’t exist 13 years ago today. Pat downs, luggage inspection, and getting body scans at airports. New vocabulary has entered our lexicon: Al-Queda, Taliban, “weapons of mass destruction,” ground zero (meaning where the twin towers once stood), and the war on terror. Children born after September 11, 2001 (and some that were young) will never know a world of “normal.”

This is a sad anniversary – the Last Day of Normal.

 

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Twenty seven years ago today, I was at work when my boss, the owner of the printing company for which I worked, opened the door to the graphics room and told me I had a phone call.  It was early afternoon and I still had an hour or so of work yet. No one usually called me at work.  As soon as I heard my brother’s voice, I knew.  I knew because that was how I had envisioned it happening a week or so before.  It wouldn’t be my mom calling me or anyone else – it would be my brother.  The words he spoke brought forth too many polarizing emotions.  I didn’t have to wonder anymore about when it would happen.  I knew that a life lived had been to the absolute fullest.  I knew that while everyone else in the family would be falling apart, that I would draw on my inner strength and remain strong for them.  This woman we spoke of had been a constant in my life since birth – the only grandmother that I knew.  When it seemed that my life was falling apart throughout different periods, she was my champion. When I was at my absolute lowest and disappointing everyone else, she hugged me and let me know that no matter what she wouldn’t be mad at me and would love me unconditionally.  Walking into my grandparents’ apartment later that evening and seeing my grandfather all dressed up in a suit – for he had been waiting to go see his beloved wife – stabbed my heart.  My mother expressed that my grandmother had really wanted to see her newest great-granddaughter, my baby, just a little over a month old, and had never gotten to.  I broke down in grief.

Within a week the family gathered to remember this matriarch of our family.  We laughed and we cried.  Six of us – grandchildren and great-grandchildren – were pallbearers.  It was such a cold day – the day we carried the casket out of the church into the waiting hearse.  Snow covered the ground.  We traveled to the cemetery and had a final service in the chapel.  It would be several more years before I went to the gravesite.  When I did return, it would be to visit not only my grandmother and my mom’s baby sister, but also my grandfather, who wasn’t able to go on after the love of his life was gone.  He passed away a year less a day after she did.

Like me, my grandmother was a child of divorced parents.  When I was young and going through the rough patches of my parents animosity, she would always comfort me and tell me she knew what I felt.  As a young child, I used to spend weekends with my grandparents.  I was the youngest of their eight grandchildren – by fourteen years – so to say that I was spoiled by them is an understatement!  In my defense, I never asked for them to spoil me and in their defense, during the time the others were young and growing, my grandparents lived in Germany and were always traveling due to my grandfather’s military duty or for pleasure.  They missed a lot of holidays and birthdays with my siblings and cousins.

Vesta Christena Wilt was born on May 7, 1898 in Noblesville, Indiana to Joseph N. Wilt and Martha Jane Stern.  She was the oldest girl and fourth child.  Another daughter and son followed her.  Before she was 12, her parents had divorced.  Her mother married her widowed brother-in-law, Frank Clawson.  The family moved from Noblesville to Anderson, Indiana and on Easter Sunday 1916 she met the man she would spend the rest of her life with.  Vesta dated Glen Roy Johnson for several months and the two got married at Martha and Frank’s house on Christmas Eve 1916.  The following December their first child, a son named after his father, was born. As the years went by the family added their first daughter, Genevieve, and then a second daughter, Mary (my mother), and lastly baby Lois Evelyn who was born prematurely and died just a little over 2 months later.

 

My grandmother knew her own heartache. She was separated from her beloved Glen for quite awhile while he went to training for the Signal Corps and then went overseas to France during WWI.  She had been separated from her mother and two youngest siblings after Martha moved to Oregon before my mother was born.  She lost a baby and then much later watched her oldest daughter suffer from a brain tumor and ultimately succumb to another inoperable one.  She lost the father that she hadn’t seen for so long without having that estranged relationship mended.  As the years wore on, she watched her youngest daughter struggle and grieve for the end of an almost 30 year marriage.  She lost her mother and three brothers.  She sat by her husband’s hospital bedside for months as he recuperated from a blood cot on his brain that he had suffered in a fall.

Then her health began to fail.  She wasn’t a stranger to health issues – having one ailment and surgery or another throughout her adult life.  But after she broke her elbow in the early 1970s, she was never as healthy as she had been.  All too soon she was experiencing a heart attack every three months.  I was very scared about losing her – not only for myself but for what it would do to my mother. After hospital stays and a change in her diet and medication, it seemed she rallied from the heart issues (although they were still there). 

The family would gather for a surprise birthday we had for her at our house.  She was so surprised when she walked in through the garage to the dining room and most of her family.  Then there was the 60th wedding anniversary celebration at their apartment complex.  Long time friends, church friends, military friends, and the family and extended family came to honor them.  We were only missing one of my cousins and her family.

I moved away for awhile and when I returned back to my hometown, I realized just how she had aged – my grandfather too.  I knew that as the years had ticked by, time was winding down for their life among us.  My grandfather had been the one who had several health issues before I had moved away and I guess I had thought that he might be the one to go first.  Then she was hospitalized and then again several weeks later.  That visit was one she wouldn’t return home from.  I learned later that she had told the apartment manager as the EMTs were wheeling her to the ambulance to make sure her husband would be okay.  Did she know she wouldn’t come home? Did she decide that it would be okay to go if it was her time?

My grandmother – Vesta Wilt Johnson – born on May 7, 1898 – died on January 19, 1984.  My grandfather – Glen Roy Johnson – born November 21, 1898 – died on January 18, 1985.  They were the glue of the family.  There are times during holidays and celebrations, the family left an empty chair – in honor of our grandmother.  Our Beloved Nana – the woman whose “grandmother” moniker I have assumed for my own grandchildren – the woman whom I will never live up to as a grandmother – the woman who is always beside me in times of trouble – smiling and cheering me on.

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On this day – January 8th, there are 15 people in my Family Tree who were born on this date, 6 of which who are now deceased. Those six (I won’t post the others since this is private information) are: Jacob Bushong – 1836, Sarah Ann Roudebush – 1839, Margaret M. Ruby – 1889, Earl Stern – 1896, Bernice Luella Harrison – 1907, and Harry Richardson Dean – 1912.

There are 5 individuals with a death date of January 8th: Henry Bushong Jr. – 1862, Sylvanus Neese – 1881, Gussie Werts – 1881, Frances Elizabeth Elliot – 1884, and Lloyd Blazer – 1975.

Five couples married on January 8th.

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