Posts Tagged ‘family’

Where has the time gone? (Infertility is a Bitch)

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

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The past year has been a whirlwind, and my reasons for being away from our wonderful little blog are personal but I feel like I am ready to share them now.

My husband Bryan and I have been trying to have a child for about four years. After so many months of unsuccessful attempts and trying everything under the sun, we finally swallowed our pride and started the fertility testing process early last year. That step was a hard one. This is something that seems to come so easily to so many and we both were putting a lot of blame on ourselves as to why we couldn’t make it happen.

I went through a gauntlet of tests, as did Bryan, and our diagnosis was “unknown infertility” which apparently affects 30% of couples going through infertility. So, we started treatment. Nine months of off and on IUIs resulted in nothing more than an emotional rollercoaster, with no better understanding as to why we are struggling to have a kid.

During that time, I had to think of or do something related to my infertility every single day. I was told to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and to suspend some of the exercises I had been doing. I took some kind of drug almost every day, and I was in the doctor’s office so often that it felt like a second home. Infertility became who I was. It felt like all I was, and it’s the biggest reason that I have been avoiding the blog. I couldn’t think of anything else to say or share because infertility occupied all of my mind space.

After our last failed IUI, the doctor recommended IVF. I decided I needed a break. Before Bryan and I started this process, we discussed how far we would be willing to go. It’s not a one size fits all decision – every couple has to decide what’s best for them. At the time IVF was not something we wanted to do. We are now re-evaluating that decision, but I knew I needed time to just not think about fertility day in, day out and find myself again.

On top of all the emotional baggage you carry as you try to conceive, you start getting advice and opinions from well-meaning people in your life. This makes you feel like you have no clue what you are doing. If you would just RELAX, it would totally happen. Have you tried [insert suggestion of one of the 500 things I’ve already tried]? People insinuate you are being dumb and/or selfish for not considering all the options, but just because it’s an option doesn’t make it the right fit for us. Why wouldn’t you all just adopt? Why aren’t you going to just go forward with IVF?

It’s been a good life lesson for Bryan and I to remember that everyone has their own obstacles and decisions on what’s right for them, and unless they ask for our two cents, it’s not our place to judge what they do.

This year I took time to go on some vacations, got back into an exercise routine (Christina and I are currently training for the Star Wars Rebel Challenge in Disneyland in January 2016), and found myself again.

I have been putting off writing about our experience, because I was hoping to write it in retrospect, after a successful outcome where I was expecting. That’s not the case, and it’s taken months for me to get to a good mental place on this, but that’s ok. We won’t succeed in everything we do in life, and there is no sense in not admitting when there are disappointments (although right now, even though we had no control, it feels more like failure).

Bryan and I aren’t giving up. We are still going to continue to try, but we have (through many tears and hard conversations) accepted the idea that if the rest of our journey together is just the two of us, we will be ok with that.

So, now that this is out there, I am ready to look forward with you. I am excited to share some amazing things over the next few months. I promise to keep writing and sharing. I cannot thank you all enough for reading and supporting us.

Ready for Takeoff: Flying with My Dad

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

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This past week, I flew to Dallas for a business trip. I am not the best flyer, but since it’s the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B in most cases, I have learned to deal with it over the years. The scariest moment for me has always been as the plane speeds down the runway and takes off.

When I was a kid, my dad had a little trick for getting me through this phase of the flight. He would say “Jenn. We have to help the plane take off, are you ready?” and as the plane would race down the runway, we would turn our arms so they were on our laps but facing up, and we would move our hands upward in a jerking motion, as if we were helping to lift the plane from below. We would sometimes even grab the armrests and pretend we were pulling them up. Anything we could to “help” the plane into the air.

You are going to laugh, but whenever I can, I still do this (Bryan will vouch for that). When I can’t, the thought of it makes me smile, and distracts me enough to get me through the takeoff.

This is a memory I cherish because any time I fly, I think of my dad, and the weird habit he gave me to get through takeoff.

Do you have any superstitions or acts that help you get through stressful times that you learned from your parents? I would love to hear your nostalgic moments in the thoughts below.

Bus Adventure

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

When was the last time you rode the bus? For me, it was just a few weeks ago at the invitation of my daughter, Betty. My Mom doesn’t drive because she is visually impaired so she and my daughter ride the bus together all the time. No matter how mundane the destination, Betty has christened these little trips “bus adventures” because, when you really think about it, everything is an adventure to a two-and-a-half-year old.

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On the day of our bus adventure, Betty invited me to join her and G-ma for a trip to the playground at the mall. Usually when the three of us go anywhere together it is by car, so this “Three Generations” bus trip was a first. Since she never knew me as a broke twenty-something, Betty thought I never rode a bus before and she wanted to show me how it’s done. She told me all about how we hold hands at the bus stop, how we put our dollars in the machine by the driver and where to find the best seats. When we got close to the mall, she told me all about pulling the cord to make the bus stop and reminded me to say “Thank You” to the bus driver on the way out.

Parenting my daughter teaches me new things all the time, but this was the first time she actually realized she was teaching me something. Of course, I asked a lot of questions, being a first time rider and all. She was so confident. I could see it in her body language, her strong little shoulders and her head held high as she looked me in the eye and explained each step of the process. Later, as we rode home from the mall after playing hard in the kids’ zone, grabbing a slice of pizza in the food court and making an impromptu stop at The Disney Store, I watched her as she quietly looked out the window at the neighborhoods going by. She was sleepy but satisfied; proud of herself. I thanked her for taking me on a bus adventure and told her what a good job she did teaching me how to ride the bus. She snuggled into me and sighed, “I love you, Mommy.” It was a pretty good day.

My Mother’s Daughter

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

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Earlier this year, I wrote a post giving props to my pops for all the traits I had learned from him that I am proud of. This month, it’s my mom’s turn to get some kudos for teaching me some very valuable life lessons.

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My mom grew up in the same small town that my dad did in Southern Ohio. She was a cheerleader in high school (and even got to ride a float in their local parade!), and as a stay-at-home mom (which is a job I very much admire) she stayed very involved, often in leadership roles, throughout my schooling. She did everything from being President of the PTA to working in the school library at my elementary school. In her spare time, she was an avid bowler, and was always in a league no matter where we lived. So, to say she kept a pretty active schedule is an understatement, but in the center of anything she did, was me.

My dad is very logical and analytical, my mom is very empathetic and bubbly, so I feel really lucky that I benefited from absorbing both personality types.

Here are some of the lessons that I learned from my mom:

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Be selfless.
When I was in high school, my grandpa (my mom’s father), was diagnosed with lung cancer. My mom moved him from his home in Southern Ohio to our home in Chicago to ensure that he got the best medical care that he could. He lived in our guest room for months while going through treatment. During that time, she gave up her life, and dealt with a husband and daughter who were a little stressed by the whole situation of having him there, to make sure her dad was taken care of. That is the most extreme example I can give of her selfless nature, but because of it, I tend to think of others before myself, and to try to anticipate how my actions might affect someone or a situation. I know that this trait has made me a superstar in any customer service role I have ever had.

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Celebrate! (and never forget to send a card!)
My mom loves to celebrate any event she can. She never forgets a birthday, wedding, anniversary, or other life event in the life of anyone she knows. And she never forgets to send a card. I used to think that was kind of frivolous and a waste of paper to send a card for any life event, but now that I am getting older, I realize that she is making sure that everyone she knows feels special and remembered. And who doesn’t love going to the mailbox to find an actual hand-addressed envelope just for them?

I have to tell you a side-story to this that is only relevant because it involves the word “Celebration.” More specifically the song “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang. When I was growing up, they had a Wendy’s campaign for their chicken nuggets and they used that song in the commercial (in fact they rewrote the song so that it was about the nuggets). After dozens of plays, I grew to hate that song with a fiery passion. When Bryan and I first started dating, they realized that I hated that song, and would torture me by singing/playing it. So “Celebrate” is also a way that mom and husband bonded.

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Stay young at heart.
My mom and I have gone to Disney World and Disneyland so many times together, that I have lost count. In some ways, I joke that I “act old,” but most of my interests have stayed constant over my life. I love cartoons and pop music and bright colors. And I am not embarrassed by it. My mom always supported whatever interest I had, and never told me that “I was too old” for something. Because of that, I am comfortable with who I am and my interests. Also, I think that acting young keeps you young. I wish I was more like my mom in this regard. She still will sing loudly to a song while driving in the car, or break out in a little dance if we hear a song that she loves. I have never been quite that carefree, and am a little jealous.

Expand your horizons.
When I was ten, my mom took me to my first ballet – The Nutcracker. After seeing my first real live show (I am not going to count Sesame Street LIVE!), I was hooked. In the years following we went to every musical and ballet we could get tickets to. When I was in middle school, she and my dad let me go to Spain with my Spanish class, where we visited The Prado and saw them make damascene jewelry in Toledo. I am not good at remembering a lot of my childhood, but anything related to art is still so vivid in my memory. She never mocked what we saw, or viewed art as frivolous or weird. I feel so lucky to have been able to experience everything that I have, and now tend to find myself staring in awe the guy who shows up to an art show with a glitter mask, mint green suit, and white bowler hat topped with a gold glitter alligator head. Life is too short to be boring.

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I don’t want to paint an overly rosy picture where it seems like I had the perfect life and my relationship with my parents has always been flawless. That just isn’t true. We have our ups and downs, our disagreements and arguments, but in the end, I love them. They made me who I am both by making sure I was safe and taken care of, and also by exhibiting what I think are some pretty kick-ass personality traits.

Once again I challenge you, when you lament exhibiting a trait that is “just like something mom/dad would do” to find something to celebrate instead.

I Pinned It, I Did It: Red Velvet Birthday Cake

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

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February is the month that two of my “moms” were born – my actual mom and my mother-in-law. My mom lives in Ohio, so we have to celebrate via a phone call and exchanging cards, but my mother-in-law Anne, lives nearby, so this past weekend we headed over to her house for dinner and cake. A cake I was tasked with making. So, I did what I always do – hopped on Pinterest and started searching for ideas.

Anne had no preference to the type of cake she wanted, so I turned to my first love, red velvet. Red velvet is to my rest of the year the way pumpkin is to my fall — I am obsessed. I didn’t have to go far in my search, as I pinned a Valentine’s red velvet cake about a year ago. I decided to step up and finally make it.

The recipe was easy to follow, and I give major kudos to Heather at Sprinkle Bakes for her detail in the instructions. My bigger fear was that the cakes would stick to the pan.

I tried to make a four-layer chocolate cake for my father-in-law last year, and it was a disaster. The cakes stuck, and I may have had a toddler-strength fit about it. I was bound and determined to master the “butter and flour” technique of greasing the pan this time. I took a stick of butter and very liberally rubbed it over the bottom and sides of each pan. I then looked up the best way to flour the pan, and it was very simple. I put about a tablespoon of flour on the bottom of each pan, and then shook and tapped the bottom of the pan until the flour was covering the entire surface. This technique was a huge success. The cakes came out perfectly when I put them on the cooling rack.

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I only have a few tips for this recipe. First, if you are using gel “icing color” (I got it at Michael’s), you will need to use more than the 1 1/2 Tablespoons she recommends to get the color that you want. Also, the batter will look more pink than red, but when it bakes, it darkens, so don’t worry about getting the batter itself the shade of red you are going for. Finally, the icing recipe makes an ample amount to layer and cover your cake. I was very stingy with the icing between the layers, fearing that I would run out when I had to ice the outside, but I had plenty left, so I could have used a bit more inside.

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The end result was gorgeous. The red was a nice bright shade, and it tasted great. My sister-in-law even commented that it was one of the best cakes she had ever tasted. There is nothing more satisfying than making something from scratch, and having everyone comment on how much they love your creation, and then go back for seconds (and thirds).

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Most of all, I wanted it to be a success because I love my mother-in-law. I am really lucky in that regard. From the start of my relationship with Bryan, she has been kind, supportive and wonderful to me. My favorite times with her are when I get to hang out with her one-on-one and hear stories about her life. She grew up in the Midwest, went to the same college my dad did (majoring in art), and even moonlighted as a go-go dancer at one point. She’s a cool lady, and brilliant artist. We have several of her paintings hanging in our home, and we get lots of compliments on them. I also adore her for raising Bryan to be fantastic husband – artistic, sensitive, and not afraid to pitch in and help around the home.

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Happy Birthday to Anne, and cheers to another successful Pinterest baking adventure!

Family Traditions: Our Olympic Dinner Table

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

My family is not a big sports family. We watched the Super Bowl because everybody watches the Super Bowl and we like the commercials, but it is the only time of the year football is on at our place. We don’t know what the Suns are up to – ever. I only know it isn’t baseball season because it’s too cold to play in the Midwest right now and they call baseball players the “boys of summer.” The only sport we get worked up over is Roller Derby. In fact, my one and only sports tee is supporting the Arizona Derby Dames Bombshells. Then, along come the Olympics and things change. From the torch lighting to the closing ceremonies we watch and love every minute. We enjoy the stories, the feats of strength, the drive of the athletes – it’s better than the movies and happening in (almost) real time.

A few Olympiad back, during the Beijing games we decided to order out Chinese and watch the opening ceremonies while enjoying our egg rolls and a fun tradition was born. For the London games, we dined on Jacob’s amazing bangers & mash and this year we will be enjoying a few Russian dishes to commemorate the games in Sochi.

When Jacob and I started researching Russian recipes we realized that there wasn’t much uncharted territory. My family is Hungarian – my great grandmother was born there – and like many immigrant families, the food is one of our last links to our past, and something we cherish. Pierogies, stuffed cabbages and hearty soups are standard fare for Hungarians, Poles, and Russians, so most of what the Internet had to offer felt kind of like old news. In the end, to our pleasant surprise, our favorite compilation of Russian recipes was from allrecipes.com, a site we use often for “everyday” recipes. Here’s our Olympic menu:

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* Pirozhki – For an appetizer and general snacking we’re going with pirozhki, which looks like a perogi but this is more of a bun and appears to be hand-food instead of fork food.

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* Borscht – Borscht is a hearty beet and vegetable soup which could easily be made hearty enough to be a stand-alone dish. We decided to do it as a soup course because, despite its quirky-sounding name none of us have ever tried it and we are offering smaller servings so we can try more recipes.
* Chicken Kiev – I am so looking forward to this. Chicken Kiev is a thin cutlet of boneless chicken breast wrapped around a piece of savory, flavored butter and fried. Some of you may have seen an item in your grocer’s freezer called Chicken Kiev that comes individually packaged for baking at home. Beware the processed and formed chicken loaf. You are now fairly warned – I’ve fallen for it in the past and it is not proper food.

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* Ukrainian Apple Cake – For desert I am going to try my hand at a particularly tasty-looking apple cake. I think this is going to be a big hit.

Whether your favorite winter sport is biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating, skiing or snowboarding, I hope you enjoy this year’s Olympic Games and maybe try something new, too. Go Team USA!

Pneumonia

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Last Thursday my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter had a little cough so I told the sitter to give me a call if she didn’t feel well. She did fine all day, but seemed a little feverish when I picked her up. Friday she stayed home with her Grandma, and I went to work as usual. I’ve never seen anything like what happened next. My healthy girl went from having a “little cough” on Thursday to being admitted to the hospital with IV’s and oxygen tubes in less than 48 hours. Pneumonia. For three days my husband and I watched her every breath as her heart rate spiked and her belly rose and fell, struggling against the fluid in her lungs. We watched her sweat and chill as she fought a fever, and we begged her to take sips of water and juice to fend off dehydration. She was so tiny in that great big hospital bed and I was the most afraid I have ever been.

You read books or hear stories about women whose babies were just fine and then they get meningitis or pneumonia and 12 hours later the child is dead. An acquaintance of mine posted to Facebook a few weeks ago that her best friend’s child was sick and they were in the hospital. A few days later the child was gone without warning. They told me my daughter was going to be OK. They said she wasn’t in danger and I needed to take care of myself. I’m not sure anyone understood that I was too afraid to hear them. I was too afraid to go to the doctor myself, though I had pneumonia also. I was too afraid to go home and sleep even when my husband was by her side. I was too afraid to think of what could happen when I was gone. I knew being there couldn’t stop it, but I knew I would be by her side if she needed me.

She’s fine now. She bounced back like a champ. I, however, spent a week in the bed with double pneumonia. I’m just starting to feel human again, though the doc says it’ll be about a month before I’m back to normal. At least my girl is feeling healthy again. We are incredibly grateful for the amazing care we received at the hospital. I know there is a special place in heaven for pediatric nurses. To our family and friends who checked on us, prayed for us, helped do our work while we were away, or visited the hospital to watch a little Star Wars with Elizabeth, Thank You. We love you and we appreciate you.

My Father’s Daughter

Monday, January 13th, 2014

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When I interviewed for my current job, I had to meet with the CEO as a part of the process. His interview, I was warned, was not going to be based on the technical skills that the job required, as he trusted those that had already interviewed me to judge that. His goal was to see if I was a personality fit. I had no idea what to expect. He then asked me, “What traits did you get from your father that you are most proud of?” I answered, didn’t think much of it, but looking back, realize that it’s a question we should all ask ourselves.

We all have said, “Oh no! I’m turning into my parents!” when we do something that makes us feel like we’re getting old. But what about when we do something good? We don’t often give credit when we exhibit a positive behavior Dad or Mom modeled.

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My dad is one of my best friends, and someone I admire a lot. He grew up in a small town in southern Ohio, had a paper route as a kid, played football in high school, and worked various jobs (including a summer stint as an ice cream man) to put himself through college. He progressed through several finance jobs before moving into the role of CFO at various hospitals around the country. In my almost 36 years, he has given me a lot of great advice.

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These are some of the most important lessons that I have learned from my dad:

Sometimes, you have to be your own cheerleader.

When I was in my 20s, I would complain to my dad about not getting the kudos at work I felt I deserved. He told me that it is unrealistic to expect that I would get a big deal made every time I did something well, and that I should learn to be proud of myself. It’s one of the greatest lessons he taught me, and it took me until I was in my 30s to really “get it.” What’s funny is that I now almost find myself embarrassed when I get called out publicly for something I did well. It’s quite a change from how I was just a decade ago!

Strive to do your best.

I was a straight-A student for most of my academic life, and am still a perfectionist. I always judged my accomplishments against a grade or compared them to other’s achievements. Then it happened – I took an Algebra class in high school that, despite hours of studying and hard work, resulted in my first C. I was so scared that I was going to disappoint my dad. Instead of getting a lecture, he sat me down and asked me one simple question – “Did you do your best?” When I responded that I had, he said “Then that is all I can ask of you. I will never be disappointed in your grades if you can come to me and tell me that you worked your hardest to achieve that grade.” His attitude was, and is, that no matter what you do in life, if you strive to do your best, and give every challenge your utmost effort, you should never be disappointed in yourself.

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There is no norm.

My dad can fit into any group. He’s been the sharp businessman in the fancy suit and he’s been the bearded biker in the leather vest. He’s mastered the boardroom and the cornhole board. The reason he does so well in these seemingly different worlds is that he doesn’t see the people as all that different. He taught me that everyone has something to offer and if you judge someone by how they look or where they’re from, you’re going to miss out. People’s different upbringing gives them new perspectives and you’ll get to enjoy those varying points of view if you remember that everyone has a story to tell.

Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Growing up, I always remember my dad pining for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He was not an experienced rider, but he loved the idea of living the Harley lifestyle – hitting the open road, finding new adventures, and leaving the stresses of everyday behind you. He finally got his bike in his 40s, learned to ride it, and now goes on bi-annual cross-country trips to visit our family in Memphis. He has never been afraid to try something new, whether it’s running a half marathon, or eating escargot for the first time (which he did during one of his first business dinners). His good example and support helped me start trying one new experience every year before my birthday. I have had experiences that I loved, like participating in the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, and experiences that didn’t work out so well, like the time I took a motorcycle safety class with him, and discovered that I am too intimidated to ride safely on the open road. No matter what the outcome, the important thing was that I pushed myself to try something new.

There are dozens more ways that I find myself emulating traits that I see in my dad, but these four things seem to be the ones I see most often in my day-to-day life. I am really proud to be my father’s daughter, and his friend.

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The next time you find yourself complaining that you are acting just like your mom or dad, I challenge you to stop and come up with one behavior that your mom or dad influenced that you are proud of.

Honoring Our Veterans

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Veteran’s Day was first celebrated in 1919 to commemorate the first anniversary of the armistice of World War I. Fighting ceased on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – November 11, 1918. President Wilson proclaimed Veteran’s Day a national holiday intended to celebrate and honor the American service men and women for their bravery, patriotism and service. You can learn more about this holiday by visiting the US Department of Veterans Affairs online.

The Wilderness Girls all have special veterans in our lives – people we love who have loved and served this country, protecting us from dangers most people can’t imagine. Nobody knows what it is like to serve unless they have taken that oath and lived that life. Today Christina and Rachael are honoring two veterans in their lives by telling their stories.

Christina’s Grandfather: Jack E. Grant

My grandpa Jack E. Grant (1924-2011) was a veteran of World War II; he served as a pilot in the United States Navy. Jack was a handsome, charismatic, outgoing man with lots of stories to tell. Only he rarely said anything about his time in the service – I can only assume his silence was a result of the tragedy he experienced at such a young age. He was a larger than life figure and so much of what we know about his service feels fantastical and after so many years the truth and myth have blurred together.

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One of the last conversations we shared is one that I will hold close to my heart for as long as I live. It took place during a chaotic time for our family. My grandfather, faced with losing his home and independence sat with me in the rehabilitation wing of a hospital in his small Montana town. It was one of the first times he’d opened up about that part of his life to me. As we reflected on the many ways technology has changed pilot training I asked him how he learned to fly. His eyes as big as saucers, “they put me in the plane and made me fly”, he replied matter-of-factly. He went on to admit that he could still see the faces of the friends he’d lost at sea; images burned into his brain long ago. One of those friends was lost off of the end of the carrier they were stationed on together and he attended his funeral in the middle of the ocean. Behind his watery eyes I could see the open footlocker that held all of those excruciating memories for so many years close. For my grandpa’s generation (the greatest), service wasn’t a sacrifice; it was simply what you did. You didn’t regale your family and friends with stories from the front lines, you locked those memories away and carried the burden on your own.

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Next July will mark three years that he’s been gone. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t give him nearly enough time while he was here with us on Earth. When I was younger I thought him old fashioned and stubborn. I resented the fact that I knew so little about the head of our family, that he expected me to be the one to reach out. But, now I reflect on the result of my reaching out – he opened up, and I have the memory of one conversation that I’ll carry with me always. We’re rapidly losing the men and women of our greatest generation to death, it’s estimated that we lose someone from their generation every two minutes. If we don’t ask, they might not share, leaving those memories gone forever.

Rachael’s Father-in-Law: Bobby Ruelas

My father-in-law Bobby Ruelas served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in Thailand and later in Vietnam as a supply clerk for 3rd Air Marines. His primary duties were moving supplies and jet parts and making sure they were available to the Marines where and when they were needed.

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He was fortunate in that he was never sent into active combat at the front line out in the bush, but the base at which he served was deep within the jungle and it was bombed often. There were three major targets at the base: the ammo dump where missiles were stored, the revetment where the jets were parked and the supply huts where he worked. When I asked him about that he told me one day a M-105 (missile) came through the tin roof of the Quonset Hut he worked in and landed about 20 feet from him but it didn’t explode right away. All of the men immediately dropped to the floor and crawled toward cover. The bomb squad was called in and the missile was a dud, but that kind of danger was part of their life every day.

Even toward the rear of the fighting there was really never a moment of safety. In the line of duty he was exposed to Agent Orange, which was a chemical defoliant used to clear the jungle of trees and plants so the enemy couldn’t hide under the lush foliage. In the years after it was shown to have terrible health consequences and he is living with those effects today. When the Marines of the Vietnam era came home they were greeted with hostility instead of respect. There were protesters at the airport when Bobby arrived back in the US after his tour and they spat on him and called him murderer and baby killer. And then there were the nightmares. Still, to this day Bobby identifies as a Marine. He says once a person is a Marine there is no going back. His service changed him, in some ways for the better and in other ways for the worse. When I asked him if it was 1970 and he had it to do all over again what he would choose, he didn’t hesitate when he said he would enlist again. Semper Fidelis.

If you have veterans in your life, take a minute today to let them know how important their service is and how much they are appreciated. We would love to hear your stories in the comments below. You can also share photos of your veteran(s) on Instagram and use the tag #ilovemyveteran.