Memorial Day beyond Hotdogs and Burgers …

Standard

Memorial Day beyond Hotdogs and Burgers, Our Great Men and Women Who Serve

By Bernadette A. Moyer

IMAG0308-1

Today for most of us Memorial Day is the start of summer with the opening of community pools, picnics and outdoor gatherings. We celebrate it by grilling our hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken and barbecue on the grill. Many take advantage of the Memorial Day weekend sales at the mall, car dealerships, big box stores and grocery stores. For many American’s it is a three day weekend.  Beach communities see it as the beginning of the summer season.

Memorial Day started as a holiday to remember the Civil War. It was a time in our history when our country that was at war with itself. It has been said to have been the bloodiest and most deadly war on United States soil.

We have expanded our definition of Memorial Day to include all military service men and women. Many of us reflect and think about all those who served and returned home, those who were injured in service and those who lost their life defending our country.

My husband Brian and I both have fathers who served during the Korean War. His father John and my father Bernie never met but they both returned from service honored with a purple heart. My dad was injured and medicated for the rest of his life as a result of a head injury he received while in Korea.

As a teenager I wore a P.O.W. bracelet, Prisoner of War and it was during this time that the Vietnam War was going on. In my early twenties I married Randy Moyer who was a two-term Vietnam veteran. Randy was in the Navy and honorably discharged after 6 years of service with a purple heart. He was blown off a ship and as a result he became an epileptic. In order for him to be fully functioning he had to be medicated every single day of his life. There was never a night’s sleep where he wasn’t shaking in our bed. He suffered from post-traumatic syndrome.

I will never forget when I was 8 months pregnant with our daughter the seizure he endured while driving to work. He totaled our car and almost killed the driver in the oncoming lane.  His driver’s license was taken away and eventually he lost his job as an auto mechanic. He needed a license to work.  His neurologist said to me, me who was just one month away from delivering our first child, “I don’t want to tell you that your husband can’t hold your baby but I think you should know that if he had a seizure while holding her, he could kill her.”  It was my sister who came to get me in the middle of the night when I went into labor. My husband, a real macho kind of guy was not allowed to drive a vehicle.

When he died in 1983 he was just 37 years old and his autopsy read, “Drowning as a consequence of seizure.” He was taking a shower, preparing to go to work and had a seizure in the shower. After he died I was left as a single mother to raise our then 2-year old daughter.

Many benefits were afforded me as a surviving widow. The VA accepted 100% responsibility for his untimely death. I was given financial support and could have used my benefits to go to school and for medical care and even to purchase a home. I never accepted any of the benefits except for the financial support. All money received was used for the best private education money could buy for our daughter. I wanted it to be used for something that would live on long after his death. The only stipulation on this support was I could receive financial aid until the day that I died. I decided to accept support until our daughter was of legal age. I remarried and it ended. I was always so thankful that Randy’s service was honored by the very government that he gave his life to serve.

The flag pictured in this blog was given to me on February 25, 1983 after the 21-gun salute and his burial. I visit his gravesite at least once every single year. On Memorial Day I celebrate like everyone else with my share of hotdogs and hamburgers but I also remember my first husband Randall H. Moyer who gave up his life to service in the United States Navy during Vietnam. He served for his country that he loved.

Many of us have friends and family members who serve in our military; it is about service above self. Let’s all remember to remember them this Memorial Day and every day in between.

Happy Memorial Day! We remember …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Bigger Than Your Brokenness

Standard

Bigger Than Your Brokenness

By Bernadette A. Moyer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We are so much bigger than any one life event. There isn’t a person alive that hasn’t experienced some form of “brokenness.” The longer we live the more of life that we experience. Events that are painful in life can be a catalyst for change and they can be what inspires us to do something good and even great.

As we approach Mother’s Day I am thinking of all my friends and that most significant relationship we will ever have, the one that we have with our own mother. A very close friend has grieved the loss of her mother for decades. She is a wonderful and truly accomplished teacher, a daughter to be proud of, for sure. She has memories of her mother, like most of us some are great and others are not. Another friend never knew her mother as she died when she was just an infant. Now in her 60’s she still grieves that loss.

Then there are mothers who have children that decided that mom was not good and not worthy and have estranged. They suffer from their own brokenness.

The mothers that have successfully navigated through all the trials and tribulations of raising their children and now reap that reward with healthy adult relationships are to be commended. How wonderful! And surely no greater success than to transition from parent-child to parent-adult child.

Each one of us comes into this world with our own strengths and weaknesses and with our own gifts and talents. We are all so unique. Some people are just wired to love and they are so good at both giving love and receiving love. Other people are natural born haters. They can easily find fault, are critical and can make a case and justify their lack of love. We are all so much bigger than holding on to hatred we are all so much bigger than our brokenness.

When I study people that are quick to judge and view the world through anger and hatred, I see where their brokenness continues on. We can change that if we want to but it takes strength and fortitude and a deep desire to move past our “list of wrongs” to a new “list of rights.” We are bigger than our brokenness but only if we want it for ourselves.

As we study conflicts and anger and hatred, there is no better place to look than at some of the most poverty stricken violent neighborhoods in Baltimore City. Recently we all got a bird’s eye view of a culture that wishes to destroy and abuse and break down rather than to build and to succeed. It is a culture that is rooted and often moves from generation to generation. It has become clear that throwing money at the problem is not the answer. It is deeper than all that.

Our belief system teaches us who we are and it teaches us what we are worth we all have that inside. People that value themselves, feel valued and value others are not people that destroy other people or property. Baltimore City has a segment of people and a large portion of their population that believes their brokenness is bigger than themselves. Unless or until they can believe that their life is worth more and can be better and move past their brokenness, there really won’t be any significant change for the better.

Our birth rite and our genetic make-up have a lot to do with how we are wired. Are we wired to view our life with hope and with a desire to do more and do better or are we wired to respond to life and life events with anger and with hate?

So much of our make-up stems from our first years when we were formed, the years when our parents were our greatest influence. Did we have good role models? Were we loved and cared for? Were our needs met? Or did our parent’s brokenness define them? Did they overcome it or did they create more of it?

Our mothers are key influencers in our life. Did they teach us well?  Like most mothers my mother had her gifts and her talents and her strengths and weaknesses. Professionally she was admired and respected by many. She was an intelligent and strong woman. She also was combative at times and a classic “enabler” through most of her adult life. My detachment from her started early. I had one therapist tell me I detached as early as 18 months. What I do believe is that she had issues with me and I had issues with her. If she wasn’t my mother she would never have been in my life. I really didn’t relate well to the kind of person that she was. My longing was for a mother that could give me more attention and more love and support. That wasn’t the role that she played. I didn’t communicate that very well and the siblings that could were easier for her to manage and to relate.

What I did learn was that I was so much more than my brokenness and that as an adult is was my job and my responsibility to fix me. It wasn’t her job at all.  Part of my wellness and healing was about my ability to forgive her and let it go. A loving heart doesn’t coexist with a heart that has anger and hate. I was committed to love. I didn’t want hurt or hatred to define me or my life.

Often we want to place blame. As a teenager I thought like a teenager. I blamed my mother for my parent’s divorce when clearly it was my father that had stepped out of their marriage. Even knowing that I still chose to blame her. Then one day you grow up and you view things as a mature adult.

Some people will take the good and leave the rest behind and others will hold on to all that isn’t good. For whatever reasons it must serve them well or they wouldn’t be doing it.

What I know for sure is that our “brokenness” only defines us if we allow it and if we want it. We can all be so much more than our brokenness …

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all the mother’s out there! Most of us want the very best for our children and most of us did the best that we could with what we had at the time … and for that we should all be celebrated!

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer