Memorial Day beyond Hotdogs and Burgers …

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

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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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

When Your Holiday Season is Shaping Up to be Less Than “Norman Rockwell” Like

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When Your Holiday Season is Shaping Up to be Less Than “Norman Rockwell” Like

By Bernadette A. Moyer

“Tis the season!” For some people and some families the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are wonderful and a time for cheer and for celebrations. And for other people it may be a time of dread.

Recently I read a social media post that stated “wish I could just fast forward to January” they knew they would struggle with the holidays and with their fractured family and broken heart.

Sometimes the dread comes from a job loss or an illness or a death in the family. Many adults with children feel extra pressure to provide a “magical holiday” experience for young children while on a very tight budget. We see images on television and in our stores of abundance and an expectation that we can and will all afford these celebrations. Truth is some people just can’t do it, they can’t keep up because of their finances or because of their grief and sadness.

What we need to remember is that although the holiday season is often dubbed as “the most magical time of the year” this isn’t necessarily the case for every single person. Some people actually suffer from the “holiday blues” and for them this could be the saddest time of the year. Even in families where it appears to be “Norman Rockwell” like, it isn’t always perfect.

I’ve had absolutely great holidays and I have had a few where I just wanted to pull the covers over my head, go to sleep and wake up when it was all over. One year I had no family, no money and was starting all over in my career and at that time I had a little girl that was counting on me to make it special.

There was another year just months earlier we experienced a child estrange and this could have potentially thrown us all into a holiday funk, but it didn’t.

The first sad Christmas I experienced, I vowed it would never happen again and that year I made food, we went to the first screening of a newly released film playing in a local historic theater. And then by 9:00 in the evening we were snug in our beds. The next day I woke up refreshed and stronger for the experience. That year was the bench mark for what I never wanted to happen again. My heart wasn’t right and I was just so sad.

The year of the recent estrangement we changed all traditional holiday plans and headed to Key West, Florida. According to our son it was “the best Christmas ever!” Christmas day we were sitting on Smathers beach taking in the hot sunny weather. Not at all traditional for a gal born and raised in the Northeast but still a happy holiday spent with my husband and our son.

You can and you will get through the holidays and I am convinced that the sad ones are designed to make us appreciate all the happy ones. I also believe the sad ones serve as a shake-up that it just may be time to try something new and different for the holiday season.

Remember not every person out there is happy and having an easy time of it. Holidays bring about past memories with family and friends. Some for happy memories and some may drive home for us the void left from our lost loved ones.

Tips for Handling the Holidays Alone

  1. Don’t pressure yourself, go with your own flow!
  2. Take in the FREE sites, shopping malls and heavily decorated areas may make you feel better.
  3. Grab a coffee or a meal out, learn to be alone and to be okay with it.
  4. Churches have all kinds of Bazaars and cookie sells, support them and take home a few treats.
  5. Volunteer at a hospital, or food kitchen or pet rescue center.
  6. Go to the public library and stock up on must reads and films to view.
  7. Write! Write letters, cards, poetry, notes, express yourself!
  8. Contribute a toy for “Toys for Tots” or other meaningful charity.
  9. Go see a new movie, a new play or a live concert.
  10. Gather with friends and family and people that love you!
  11. Make new traditions and travel.
  12.  Don’t want to be in the public? Pamper yourself.
  13. Stock your refrigerator with healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Exercise. Walk. Move about.
  14. Take long hot bubble baths.
  15. Get your music, books and movies stacked up and ready so that when the holidays arrive you have your entertainment choices at your fingertips.
  16. Sleep! Often when we are sad and depressed we are lacking proper rest. Give yourself permission to sleep it off.
  17. Paint a room or engage in a mini home improvement project.
  18. Do something productive, the end result will make you feel better. Go to the gym and start your New Year resolutions early.
  19. Make cookies, make food. Create healthy dishes with vegetables and fresh fruit.
  20. Can’t afford to travel? There are amazing television shows and archived libraries that have travel destinations recorded for viewing, imagine yourself there!

No matter what is going on in your life and what circumstances you find yourself in this holiday season, just know that this too shall pass. Sometimes a down year is just what we need to inspire us for the next year. Not every holiday season is going to be “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Count your blessings, find gratitude in what you have, focus on what you have now and not on what has been lost and you are sure to find the holidays as peaceful as they can be. And if this is the holiday season that grief prevails, remember that grief can be a gift. You can and you will make it through the holidays …

Grief teaches us many life lessons and tears are the shedding so that the old can be let go and the new may be embraced. After the rain, the sun always returns and so often shines even brighter!

The holidays are coming, so what is your favorite holiday movie? Or your favorite holiday music?

For me, I love the movies; The Holiday and The Family Stone and for the classic movies; Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. And for Christmas music I enjoy Aaron Neville’s version of Such a Night and when Bing Crosby teamed up with David Bowie for Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Remember 2018 is a New Year and a chance for all that is good and wonderful, believe it and receive it!

Feel free to share your story by writing me at bmoyer37@aol.com and “like” my page at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer