Daughters Tackle the Army

Thoughts to Ponder

February 28, 2017

A year after their brother joined the Marines, my identical twin daughters left home to join the Army. I didn’t write an essay about their departure and it disappointed them. When they asked why I told them the truth. The stories would have been almost identical except for writing daughters instead of son and Army instead of Marines. Now I can look back and write what I was unable to say back then.

I was so proud of my girls choosing the Army both to serve and to learn a usable skill. Yet I worried about them differently than I had my son. I knew they could surmount whatever challenges they faced in basic training, but as girls they were much more vulnerable in so many ways than their older brother was. Because they chose different job specialties, one a food inspector, the other personnel manager, they went to basic and advanced training at different locations. These two girls, who had functioned almost as one entity for 17 years, were now forced to be individuals, relying on themselves.

All I could do was trust God that they would be safe. As far as I know they were, but I also know they still hide unpleasant facts from me. Whatever they faced they became strong women. As they matured both married career Army men. Both men were good choices. One daughter gave me a granddaughter and grandson. In turn they have given me five great-grandsons so far. The other daughter has become a close friend and support for her stepsons and their families.

These women have been my cheerleaders, strength, motivation, wisdom and caretakers. They encouraged me when I went to college, they supported me when I faced life-changing decisions and cheered me during down times. They monitor my health and support me when my spirit is low. Best of all, I feel that they do it out of love rather than duty. Sometimes I think that is more than I deserve. Even so, I am so proud of them and brag on them every chance I get. Most of that bragging is vocal, but it’s long past time to put those words in writing.

So, I’m taking this opportunity to say, “Linda and Sarah and am so proud of you. You’ve become strong women who exemplify all that is honorable and compassionate. You are role models for younger women – and for me. I trust your words and actions and probably rely on you more than I should. Thank you for gracing my life.”

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of Echoes of Your Choices, a motivational book, and one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

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My personal Prodigal Son

Thoughts to Ponder

 “’Look, dear son,’ his father said to him, ‘you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours. But it is right to celebrate. For he is your brother ….’”

Luke 15:31-32*

An event happened recently that focused my awareness on what has and is happening in my own family. Perhaps it is happening in yours as well.

Dan was my first born. He had an outgoing personality, an intelligence that focused on math and science. He was also ADHD. He required much parental and educator attention.

Eighteen months later my identical twin daughters, Linda and Sarah, were born. They were quiet, well-behaved and tended to entertain each other. To me they were a gift that allowed me to spend more time trying to keep their brother under control.

When Dan left home at 18 to become a U.S. Marine I wrote an essay that was printed in the Chicago Tribune. When Linda and Sarah left home the following year to serve in the U.S. Army I did not write an essay. A few years later they asked why I didn’t write anything about them. My response was that the essays would have been nearly identical because my emotions were the same. They dropped the issue and I naively assumed that the situation was settled.

This pattern has continued throughout their lives. Their brother spent his energy visiting other relatives and friends rather than his sisters. He visited me from time to time and his sisters when obligated. He was a spiritual seeker and one of my teachers and advisors. Shortly before Dan transitioned of a heart attack at age 45, I asked him why he chose to ignore his sisters and their families. He said he didn’t know. I don’t know if that was an honest answer or if he had a reason for his actions. Since his passing he’s been my angelic guardian.

The girls have always remained close to me. They welcome me to their family events, balance my checking account, go to doctor appoints with me, do minor repairs at my house and much, much more. They are also my teachers and advisors. I frequently brag about them to my coworkers and friends, but probably don’t tell Linda and Sarah as often as I should.

Their situation hit me full force this week. A friend forwarded an internet posting by Maureen St. Germain, Dan’s spiritual advisor, in which she said that Dan had been her incarnate guardian. I’d always been curious about their relationship, but was astounded to read what she had to say. I shared this information with Linda and Sarah and was underwhelmed by their responses and wondered why.

A couple days later I shared St. Germain’s post and a few stories about some of Dan’s spiritual experiences with my meditation group. They encouraged me to write a book about him. I was flattered that they thought he was worthy of that much attention and that I have enough talent to share his story. I replied that I would consider it but something didn’t feel quite right.

As the conversation shifted to another topic, four words flashed into my mind, “The Prodigal Son’s brother.” I realized that Linda and Sarah feel like the Prodigal Son’s brother felt when his father welcomed his wayward son with gifts and a huge party. I had been doing the same. I always made a big fuss when Dan came to visit because it rarely happened and bragged about his accomplishments. Now, 4 ½ years after Dan’s passing, I was once again effusive about his uniqueness. I made a vow to more frequently express my gratitude for Linda and Sarah’s many kindnesses and to write more about how wonderful they are.

Spirit, Thank you for making me aware that I have not been giving my daughters the gratitude they deserve and for showing me how it affects them. I’m grateful that I have time to rectify the situation. I ask that you continue to remind me to express my appreciation of them and the many other people who have taught and supported me over the years.

*The Living Bible, 1971, Tyndale House Publishers

© by Sharon D. Dillon, August 2, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as an e-book or paperback at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.