Thursday, August 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Son

Joey at Mama's Fish House, May 2008

Tomorrow we are honoring Joey's birthday by going to Mama's Fish House again. It's a staple of our Maui visits, as the place is so redolent of Joey. It was his favorite restaurant and either our first stop after picking him up from the airport, or our last stop when he would fly back home to LA. He was a gourmet eater, and much more daring then me,  and he appreciated every exotic nuance of a meal there. The last time I ate there with him, he ordered a fish platter appetizer, with the head and eyes still intact, (very Japanese) and oo'ed and ahh'ed his way through it. He loved the unique lilikoi creme brulee accompanied by a glass of moscato, and finished all his meals with that exquisite little combination. We will do the same tomorrow in his honor. He was a foodie of the first order, and his enthusiasm simply made eating anything more fun.

Rachel took this picture of Joey eating a whole fish in Mexico, with joy and gusto!

The beach in front of Mama's 

The entrance to the restaurant, under the banyan tree pathway

Mama's has an amazing florist and the displays are legendary for their beauty. This one's vibrant rusty coloring reminds me of my ruddy golden boy. 

I wish he were here for his birthday. Death is not an easy pill to swallow, even four years later. We were meant to be eternal and our love and relationships are meant to be everlasting. 
And so they shall be --but somewhere over the rainbow. 

For this interlude, as we wait, I want to tell my son again how much I love him.
 How he changed my world by being my child. How the child parented the mother. How his generous heart impacted all of  us to the core. How his love made us more loving. How his "chill"  taught us all to slow down and breathe it in. How his laughter could change the color of the sky. 
These things are all true. 
Not a mother's hyperbole. 
Anyone who knew him would tell you this was so. 

We aren't the same without him. We are not better people for having lost him. I hope one day we will be, but  for now, we are still piecing our new lives together. I think he would wish it so, probably prays it so, but we are not there yet. I do believe he inspires me to press forward, to try to love and give and forgive more, to release the petty things in my heart, But I am more rigid, bristly, sensitive, demanding, disappointed than I would like.
 Alas, I feel as fragile as glass sometimes. 

But I am committed to the path of following truth and love all they way down the road. I have made great strides in learning to live by faith, rather than sight. 
 I want to live well and right, to make my son, who is now part of that great cloud of witnesses,  proud of his mama.  
He was a good example of living well and right. 
Of celebrating life and the unselfish, big-hearted parts of it that truly matter. 

Tomorrow we will celebrate the precious life we had with him. 
I love you, beautiful son.

 Matthew 26:29 
I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Fallen Heroes Memorial Ride

Today is the one year anniversary of the loss of 31 troops in a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan last August. There were Navy Seals on board, plus support crew, and even a military-trained dog, and all lost their lives  as their helo was shot down by Taliban. It was the single largest loss of troops since the war began after 9/11.

And heartbreaking.

This one was particularly personal. These were my kids' friends.

On Saturday, I attended a memorial motorcycle ride to honor the fallen heroes of August 6, 2011. There were at least a thousand motorcycles that took part in the 23 mile, police-escorted ride to the oceanfront. I didn't ride, but my husband and daughter did.  I just loved being part of the crowd.

Daughter and Daddy.

At least half the thrill of an event like this is seeing who else shows up.

I will share some of my favorite shirts and vests. They each tell a story.

The Patriot Guard are the people you see on CNN who ride in military funerals to protect the bereaved families from extremists and pseudo-religious protesters. 

I expected to see the soldiers who lost their friends, and the widows and the children of the fallen and people like me. I didn't expect to see so many different ages, races, creeds, and motorcycles in one place! It was awesome! There were at least a thousand motorcycles there. Let your Harley roar!

There were a number of Christian motorcycle clubs. Not your typical Sunday pew sitters.

The Vision Riders. Loved it.

This one is a flag with all the  names of the fallen written on the stripes. 

This guy is a veteran of other memorial rides. 

This one specifically honors Kevin Houston, one of the fallen. The Navy Seal motto is "Long Live the Brotherhood", the words on the shirt.

Here a veteran proudly displays his service to his country.

This one specifically honors the SEALs who gave their lives. Absolute heroes.  

This was one of my favorites. Such colorful embroidery. The words say, "Never forgotten"

This gal was a vet, and  though most of the women rode on back of bikes, there was a good crowd of cute biker chicks who rode their own bikes. 

This was another favorite.  A Jewish motorcycle club called 'Guns and Moses"! 

The fallen were honored by two members of the Boston Police Department Bagpipe Column. They were dressed in full regalia to play their bagpipes for the exit of the  entire stream of riders. The Navy SEALs have forged a bond with first responders in NYC and in Boston. They have shared the burden of the losses of 9/11. These guys were pretty cool.

They played the entire time as the two mile long motorcycle caravan left. There are few things as stirring as listening to "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes. The 31 flags in the ground next to them represent the fallen. 

The Navy color guard lined the exit of the shopping center. Before the ride began, they were washing naval officers'cars in the parking lot. Making good use of their time. 

My daughter JoAnne and her friend Julie rode side by side the whole 23 miles.
Both of their husbands lost dear friends last year. 

JoAnne rode with her dad. Look at the long line of motorcycles behind them. The police blocked every intersection for 23 miles so they could pass through. My husband loved being able to run the red lights with impunity for the first time in his life. 

One of the last to leave, this patriotic woman was part of the color guard. She has the names of each of the fallen Navy SEALs attached to her vest. 

Along with many others who have given all. 

Joe and JoAnne head out for the ride, with their buddies by their sides. It was such a memorable day, being there, watching the crowd. I was part of a grateful nation paying homage.

The proceeds from the event will help these families as they forge a new life without their beloved and heroic husbands and fathers. 
"Long Live the Brotherhood"

Friday, August 03, 2012

Lessons from a Champion

Gabrielle Douglas of Virginia Beach--Hometown Girl

1. Keep smiling
2. Keep it classy
3. Start early
4. Concentrate on the task
5. Ignore your enemies
6. Encourage your teammates
7. Find a good coach
8. Love your family
9. Fly if you can
10. Give God the glory


My 17-year-old hockey-obsessed grandson is pretty enamored with the Fab Five. He doesn't read my blog, so it's safe to say he's got a mad crush on them. They do what he does--devote themselves to their sport with all their might and means. 

What a great example they are to their generation and to our world. 
Beauty, strength, dedication, discipline, humility, sportsmanship, teamwork. 
Amazing young women who have earned it all.