It’s been a crazy couple ‘a weeks what with our American Gold Star Christmas Project, holiday parties, Christmas, a Gingerbread Party for all the kiddos, and New Years. I know the holidays are busy for everyone, but when you have 18 people living under one roof, 12 kids on swim team (and over the holidays it was practice two times a day) and everyone’s various commitments and friends and family and whatever…it is more than a little nutso.
Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT complaining. I love crazy. I’d have to — to have 16 kids you gotta love crazy…or you GO crazy. It’s one or the other…so I chose to just embrace the crazy. Ok, that’s enough on crazy.
But this New Years Day I got a very special gift. A crazy good gift and if it is any kind of an indicator on what 2016 holds for our family then we are off to an amazing start!
As you all know, I not only have 16 kids, but a menagerie of animals as well. One animal that has been having her challenges in this family is little Whitney, our malti-poo. Last week Daly Kay finally concluded that Whitney would be happier in another home where she could be the center of attention. I concurred. I gave the OK and Daly Kay quickly posted to social media that little Whitney needed a new home.
If you’ve been around us at all you know that we love America’s Gold Star families…those dear precious people who have lost a loved one in the service of our military. I have dozens of Gold Star families we have been privileged enough to serve and hundreds of them follow us on social media.
There is one very special Gold Star mother that lives relatively close to us. For over a year I have been trying to connect with her face to face. Circumstances or situations always came up and we were unable to meet…I know it is hard sometimes to connect when one is suffering the unimaginable. I’ve kept her son’s photo next to my bed for over a year and he is often the first face I see. His handsome mug has gotten me through many of my own personal battles and so I owe this family a debt of gratitude on a number of levels. I always looked for an excuse to put my arms around this mama and as soon as Daly Kay posted about Whitney needing a new home, this Gold Star mom spoke right up!
New Year’s Day Daly Kay and I made our way north an hour and a half to meet this hero’s mother and give her a new little doggie to love. The moment we pulled into her driveway she was waiting to meet the pup. Finally the face I had seen on social media for so long was right in front of me. She was such a sight to behold.
She smiled and hugged Daly Kay and I. Whitney took to her and she asked us into her home. We walked into the modest living room and immediately I was humbled.
A china cabinet filled with the flag that draped her son’s coffin. Photos. His beret. His rank’s patch. A dozen mementos including a book written about his platoon and their story. Everywhere your eyes turned there were flags. The quilt over the couch. The birdhouse outdoors. The angel holding a flag. The soldier statue in her garden with a flag. The flag covering her grandson’s window. Flags, flags, flags…everywhere. This wonderful Gold Star mother was even wearing camo shorts and a patriotic shirt.
She told me about how she had thought that she would be ready to take care of a dog come the New Year. She had even prayed about it. And then, New Year’s Eve Daly Kay put up her post and there you go.
For all of us.
Whitney has a new home where she is the absolute center of attention.
My Gold Star mom friend has a new doggie to love that needs her as much as she needs the dog.
Daly Kay is happy because Whitney is now exactly where she belongs.
And I got to spend a few hours with a woman I have been wanting to meet and give her something that made her so happy. That was MY gift…getting to meet with her, spend time with her, and love on her.
But lemme tell you something. It is humbling indeed to walk into a home that has borne the loss of such a favored son. It is breathtaking to behold a mother grieving so hard that the tears have etched a trail into her cheeks. It is beyond inspiring to witness such pain and see someone still striving to love and live despite such heartbreak.
Never take your freedoms for granted, my beloved friends. It has cost some of our fellow patriots far too much.
And never take your opportunities while raising this next generation to make a worldwide impact for granted either. Our Gold Star mothers did not raise such young men that gave their last full measure for us that we would give anything less than our best in our parenting. Soldier on, mamas. It’s worth it.