Captain Jason

The latest news on the recover of Jason after his injury in Iraq by an IED.


Snail Mail:

Cpt. Jason Scott
WRAMC Building 20
Mologne House Hotel #316
6900 Georgia Ave. NW
Washington DC 20307

Phone: 202 577 0092

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sort, Pack: Day II

Today is another very hot day in DC. (What are we doing to reverse Global Warming?) Jason was up at 8 AM and off to PT by 9 after a shower. We turn the air conditioning off only during showers and dressing in the morning, otherwise it is kept on high. I got Jason a bagel for breakfast and picked up the USA Today which is running a week long series on Global Warming and its effects on our finite and fragile planet. I headed to the WR loading dock to pick up boxes promised me by one of the workers yesterday. She was not present nor were any boxes set aside. So I asked another employee and we found some, too large to ship. I thought I would take a few in case Jason needs to store items at Dan's. Jason already has his "Iraq green box" he calls it,taken to Iraq and back. I can't figure out how Dan and Jason are going to get heavy boxes into Dan's apartment. I am thinking of Jason with one hand and lifting weight limitations after his surgery.

I took a nostalgic walk up Georgia Ave to Silver Spring this morning in the heat of the day. Knowing that "I shall not walk this way again." I passed the stores and restaurants we had visited and said one last "Hello" to the cat in the window of the art store. I headed toward WATER in the World Building and my last counseling with Diann Neu D. Min and LCSW. I thanked them for the copy of "The Tent of Abraham" Stories of Hope and Peace for Jews, Christians, and Muslims by Rabbi Waskow, Joan Chittister OSB and Saadi Shakur Chrishti. It will be released in July. We reflected on the changes in my life because of the combat injuries to Jason and the work that lay ahead when I return to Chicago. I stopped at Ritz camera and purchased a "click and shoot," no digital for this 20th century woman, ate one last lunch of a Ceasar's salad at Panera's, and begin my last 2.5 mile walk South. I stopped to get an ice cream cone, butter pecan, my favorite at a small private organic ice cream shop.

As I was walking on Georgia, wearing my floppy sun hat an African American father with a baby in his arms and a hanging on for dear life to a pulling away toddler came toward me, "Hello beautiful" he exclaimed to me. I smiled, "Thank you and have a wonderful day" was this 63 year old grandmother's reply. For I had been thinking, "What a wonderful sight a father and his sons," and I know fathers and sons are together all over the world, especially in Iraq, and their right is to live in peace. I think we mothers and sisters and daughters and grandmothers MUST make it happen yet another generation of children will be lost to war. As Paul VI wrote, "If you want peace, work for justice." And as I prepare to leave Walter Reed Sophia, the Spirit of Godde within reaffirms my work ahead. Let us pray for the gifts of Pentecost which we celebrate this coming Sunday, that the Spirit will more fully bring to our hearts and minds the Truth "that renews the face of the Earth."

Jason and Bryan left for the X-Men and Macaroni Grill at 4 and I took a quick nap as the heat of DC took my energy away. Then I had to catch the Metro as Jason had commandeered his car for the first time. Nancy and Ken, bless their hearts picked me up at the Metro stop near Quixote and I attended my last liturgy and potluck dinner. Nancy made wonderful recipes from the book A Bad Catholic's Book of Good Living or something close to that. It is a fun look at the "Lives of the Saints" with special recipes for some of the feasts. We had chicken with apricots and for dessert a apple crisp with raisins soaked in whiskey. Very, very good.

Litury was our celebration of Pentecost and we focused on "What does Pentecost mean to us?" During our shared reflection, I read a passage from the book cited earlier The Tent of Abraham and that I had also shared on my visit to Jonah House. I experience both of these Centers for Peace and Justice enfleshing the Evolutionary Vision of Sophia for humanity. I quote, "One of the most important teachings of these rabbis was that the Torah was written not in black ink on white parchment but in black fire on white fire and that the white fire, the 'blank' spaces, were waiting in every generation to be read anew." (Rabbi Waskow, pg 19) As we prepare to celebrate Pentecost in Christian churches across the USA this weekend, I encourage you to seek ways to discover your unique gifts given by the Spirit, be renewed in those you know and answer the call to be justice and peace with your lives. What is the "white fire" of Pentecost exhorting you and your faith community to do? Or as Brianne Swimme and Thomas Berry wrote in The Universe is a Green Dragon, "What is your allurement?" as that is how the evolutionary creation of the Universe captures us. Follow your allurement (your passion) and you will change, working together we create the present and the future.

Jason was taling to Jodi on the phone when I returned, played his game for a while, read his book for a while and it was lights out something close to midnight.

As I was attempting to carry the boxes from WR to Mologne today and slogging up "Mologne Hill," a kind woman soldier asked, "Can I help you carry those?" She has been called to Active Duty and will be in charge of the VIP ward, 71, and the Psychiatric wards and a couple of others. I told her a little of Jason's story and invited her into to Mologne to see our room as she has only recently arrived. She was taken aback because it "is not homey" but "cold." She was thankful for the quick "tour" and said she would keep Jason in her prayers, gave me a hug and was on her way. May God bless her for her "random act of kindness." To me she is the best of our American Spirit, ideals and military. To reach out to those in need, a small deed but comfort for my soul. Blessings on her work at WR and all the staff she will work with.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sort, Pack, Sort , Pack: Ship

Good news:
Jason had his surgery wounds checked today. The RN said, "No wet to dry anymore. Place aloe patch in wound. Then come back in a couple of days and we will check and you should be done with dressings." The nurse did not have to place a patch over the wounds. Just gauze and a little, little bit of tape. The dressing does not have to be changed but once a day till it is removed. The wound is closing very nicely, no more fresh flesh so no more bleeding that I can tell.

I spent all day sorting and packing items telling Jason "After living in this room for 7.5 months, I cannot do this room in one day." At the end of the day I had 3 boxes full-one for Lisa and two for Chicago. Overhearing Jason talking to Jodi, Jason is trying to get out as early as possible next week down to Florida so he can get his car and items from Lisa's. The social worker promised Jason, "Get permission from Dr. Golarz and I can get you out of town in 6 hours!" I don't know how much time we have left at Mologne: count days not weeks.

Now the Fed Ex is in Silver Spring and has the slowest service I have ever experienced. I forgot this lesson I learned with the Christmas letter so it was well after 7 when we left Mologne. Jason spent the day playing his computer game Civilization IV. We went to FedEx where the cute young, very young gentleman behind the counter was giving especially attentive service to a young lady with lots of cleavage and well endowed. Then he and another counter person began to serve one customer who had a problem with a lost package. I finally asked, "I have been waiting for some time and the two of you are waiting on the same customer. Could you help me?" I figured Jason would be going nuts in the car. I shouldn't have worried because when I finally got served I found Jason lying back on the seat text messaging, I assume Jodi, and looking quite relaxed. Sigh...What has happened to the idea of prompt, courteous customer service?

After Jason parked in another garage as he was scoping out the territory for tomorrow when he and Bryan(in a wheel chair or walking with canes for a short distance) are coming to the show X-men and out for dinner. (remember the story of not being able to bring outside food into Mologne, same Bryan.) Coming out of the garage we saw a banner for a new restaurant in the mall. The Blue Pearl is a Chinese, Japanese, American buffet. The sections of the buffet are designated in English and Spanish. Don't you love our American diversity? I really liked the buffet as it had excellent tapioca pudding for dessert and a really wide selection including crab in the shell plus the best cooked fresh green beans I have found in DC. Jason ate ribs and white rice.

So here I am 10 PM thinking about "What can I pack and ship next?" I feel the pressure to "tie up loose ends." Say a prayer that Jason continues to heal and has no paperwork problems getting his leave and flight. Say a prayer that I can pack this kid and myself up in some kind of coherent fashion. BTW Jason loves being Captain and giving his mother ideas on how "I need to pack." We do have two large duffel bags for Jason to use as luggage for items to Florida. I have already taken one box of items to Mologne's "garage sale table" and all the items were gone when I went by later except a magazine that focuses on nutrition (does that surprise you when the mess hall food is all fried?) Have a good night's sleep, it is very warm here.

Jason's Memorial Day Weekend

Jason had headed to Chicago on Thursday. From his report of weekend activities:
  • Chris Moore and Jason stayed in a bar till 5 AM on Monday morning. (I did not know that Chicago has rolling closings and some bars are open that late.) He flew out later in the day to return to DC.
  • Jason spent most of his time relating to me two movies that he saw while in Chicago. One was the X-men that he said had the best special effects ever. Especially a character named Cat(?) who could freeze persons in solid walls, etc. She could pass through them, that was her power. A good versus evil story. Another movie set as an Australian cowboy called the Proposition was very powerful for Jason. It was a movie of revenge and eventual redemption for the characters. Although very violent, he thought it was well worth experiencing the story. I believe Jason said the director was Popinsish (?) who sounds like a minimalist with no music, etc. Jason likes his work.
  • Dow's BBQ at our apartment went well. Jason's friends were joined by friend Dennis Morjada who has visited Jason at WR twice.
  • Jason has become highly allergic to the bonding in any of the medical tapes or patches. When I changed the patch last evening, his flesh had been torn away when tape had been removed in Chicago. My heart sank. I don't think there are many options left for bandaging his wounds. He ssaid he is thinking of visiting the clinic on Wednesday. Thanks be to God the wounds are almost healed.
  • Jason came back highly energized and looking ahead to leaving WR on his con leave. Jason has made arrangements for Jodi and he to fly to Chicago to attend a Jimmy Buffett concert in Wisconsin the second weekend of June. I plan on being there unpacking and unwinding while Dow attends our daughter Lisa's 39th birthday weekend in Tampa and our granddaughter Ellie's (age 5) second dance recital.
Let us be thankful for all the good memories Jason made this past weekend with friends and his dad. Let us continue to pray for Jason's complete healing that he might soon join Jodi on con leave. Thank you for your kindness. I hope that all of your "opening summer weekends" were filled with fun and good times. And with memories of those who have gone before us. Blessings this summer.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day: Katy

I was up very early as Karen had told me the memorial for Lt Ken would take place at 10 AM. One of the RN's who lives in Silver Spring and who also was Jason's nurse on Ward 57 would also attend the service. We could not connect so I took the Metro down. I was glad that I missed Micalah as she got caught in the huge morning traffic jam in Arlington Cemetery and did not arrive for the service till it after it was finished. The day was forecasted to be in the 90's and with clear blue skies the temperature quickly climbed. As I walked from the visitors' center through the cemetery, I was overcome with grief for the suffering of the soldiers as they died and for their families and friends who remember. Many persons were walking through the cemetery and Marines in dress uniforms were the "traffic police" for the day.

About 20 of us gathered at the gravesite with many, many folks visiting graves near us. Some sat on the ground and cried, some hugged each other and left mementos, pictures, flowers. Many children were visiting with adults. This is the second anniversary of gathering for Karen and her family at Arlington "Where better place to be than with Ken?" Today the gathering was being filmed for a documentary by a group from CA. Ken died in Baghdad May 30, 2004. Karen said about 150 soldier casualties of Iraq and Afghanistan are buried at Arlington with the rest buried elsewhere closer to family. Some tombstones are larger because they commemorate those who died together in the same combat/event; names and rank and medals, date and incident listed "Helicopter crash-Texas." Alex's grave is close to Ken's but at the end of a row opposite where we stood under huge trees. We would stand under the trees for a break from the sun.

Karen is from a family of 8 and all but two were able to be in attendance at the memorial. It was good to experience the strong support Karen receives from her family. I believe three of the sisters, including Karen, live with in about 1/2 hour of each other in CA. The others are the "East Coast" contingent of the family.

Karen stood at Ken's tombstone and called us to join her as "we remember and celebrate Ken's life." Major O'Brien from Army casualty Affairs was in attendance and sang over the gravesite a song to the "lost warrior." It was to the melody of a popular Christian hymn and he said that it is an Army tradition that the song be sung "over a soldier's grave." It was very moving and we all stood quietly as our hearts held Karen and Ken. Karen invited us to share remembrances and I spoke on behalf of Jason who attended training with Ken. Next champagne was poured and we began a round of toasts, for Ken and his family, for all soldiers, for those buried at Arlington, and for peacemakers in the military and outside of it. We offered a libation for Ken and poured our remaining champagne over his grave. I believe it was Karen who said, "Ken would have preferred beer." His family members smiled and heartily agreed. (I thought next year it should be beer) We all gathered around the tombstone and took a photo so that Karen might be able to remember who gathered with her at Ken's graveside in 2006 in the years to come. Karen released a star covered balloon "releasing Ken" His balloon got stuck in the tree, Karen tried again and again the balloon caught in the tree above. I will leave to you the meaning.

Ken's family spent some time catching up with each other in the shade of the trees. I took a refilled glass of champagne and told Karen I was going to visit Alex's grave at the opposite side of Plot 60. Another grave had been added next to Alex's in the few days since Tuesday. Alex's grave was still covered with the flowers from his funeral and a poem that must have been from his wife as it spoke of a "kiss and romance." The words and her longing touched my heart and my eyes filled with tears for her loss. I poured the champagne over Alex's grave and asked a blessing of healing, comfort and peace for his family.

I prayed that like Ken's family, healing will come amidst the pain and loss in time and in Alex's family's members' unique way as they journey in life. May his family find meaningful ways to gather and to celebrate the life and relationships and contributions of Alex. And for both families from great suffering may they choose to reach out to others in compassion and to be compassion. "For God is the human person fully alive" and Compassion is the deepest creative act defining us as human. Those who have suffered much have the greatest ability and potential to "experience with" the suffering of others. It is a choice, an act of free will, our response to loss and suffering. If accepted and experienced fully, this dying to the past, will like the "three days in the tomb" lead to resurrection; a life changed and much richer in blessings for self and others. We have no control over the losses in our lives; the loss of our sons to war; we always have the ability to choose our lived response and the meaning of these losses for our lives.

The family members had planned to spend the day together and leave DC on Tuesday. I spent the lunchtime after at "Red, Hot and Blues" enjoying listening to family stories and the antics of all the nieces and nephews. Karen who sat at our table enjoyed playing with the toddler daughter of Major O'Brien. Micalah still has recorded messages from Ken on her cell phone and she played those for Karen who heard his voice for the first time in two years. Micalah is going to save the messages somehow so that Karen may have them. Micalah had met Ken when she was attending training as a cadet and they had been dating for two years at the time of his death.

Micalah and Ken's family pointed me to the Metro at Rosslyn station and I headed North to Walter Reed. Shortly after I arrived, the cell rang, "Mom where are you? I am on the Metro headed to WR. Want to meet in Silver Spring for dinner?" Sure Jason so I drove to Silver Spring and we ate at the Asian-Japanese restaurant. Later I washed clothes and it was lights out at 11 and looking forward of a week to pack and ship and do what needs to be done for Jason's upcoming leave and my return to Chicago.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend: Katy at Jonah House

First I must send a special "Hello" to Fr. Bob Bossie and Sr. Kathleen DeSaultes OP and all the folks at 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago from their friends Ardith and Carol of Jonah House (and everyone at Jonah House) for Carol made me promise I would say "Hello." :-)

As I had written on Thursday, I headed to W. Baltimore by Metro and MARC train to Jonah House ( arriving shortly before dinner on Thursday. Jonah House is owned by the Diocese of Baltimore and the five members who live there at present earn their wages by clearing and caretaking of a once-parish cemetery. When the white flight from the neighborhood happened, the cemetery was abandoned (no perpetual care moneys had been collected) and uncared for for a number of years until the vegetation literally covers everything and brush and trees wiped out the cemetery. Over the years locals used it for a dumping ground. Tombstones were toppled and lost. Records of the families and plots have been lost and only about 30% of the gravesights can be attributed to families. The cemetery covers over 20 acres and I would guess that over the 10 years that Jonah House has cared for the cemetery about a third has been reclaimed. The perpetual care for the cemetery is now provided for through a foundation of the families with members buried there and which helps oversee the stewardship of Jonah House for the property. Members living in the house now are Gary, Susan, Ardith, Carol and Liz.

Another visitor completing her week long visit was Sue from Co. We all ate dinner together. We ate strawberries from the JH patch and fresh lettuce each meal from the garden. We ate new potatoes from volunteer plants. Susan took me outside to help with the "treats" for the two Nubian goats named Paul and Silas and two black llamas named Micah and Naomi who "work to keep the cemetery grass mown-by eating it." Feral cats also live in the cemetery and come close to the home on the property which the community built and turned over to the Diocese. Gary took me on a walk through the cemetery including the paths they have cut through the overgrown areas so those folks who come might try to find their family tombstones or gravesites.

The house is surrounded by beautiful flower beds and vegetable gardens which Gary oversees.
On Friday, Gary and I spent the day in the vegetable garden. We weeded and howed and dug and planted, all spiritual nurturance for this gardener who has not had her own vegetable garden in ten years. Gary has built a green house structure where during the summer he is growing pole beans and has a patch of rhubarb. We tilled and planted three rows of corn "in the open greenhouse." We tilled another patch and planted egg plants. Gary mulched everything with straw. We got rained out so stopped for lunch then the sun obligingly came out from behind the clouds and we returned for our afternoon in the gardens. About 4 PM Gary said, "Enough" and put away the tools.

I wandered to the front of the house and found Liz weeding and planting leftover basil and tomato plants. I wasn't ready to end my work day so I spent time with Liz working in this garden. One of the cats, being a cat, came to lounge in the weeded area and for a reason only known to cats, decided to "unplant" a plant with his paw! He just layed down, hooked it and out she came! Thank goodness he humored us by only taking out one! I am sure the cat did it to let us mere humans know who is really in charge of the garden! Jonah House has a beautiful kitchen dining area with a wall of windows overlooking the cemetery. I understand they had birdfeeders but the flock of guinea hens would cause such a racket outside the windows eating the seed that had fallen that conversation in the house could not be heard. So now a thistle sock hangs from a clothes line and American goldfinches and finches abound eating the seed. They were so beautiful and reminded me of the years in Blacksburg when I fed the finches and waited their spring and fall arrival in our backyard. It was so good to see again the "living butter yellow" dancing through the sky.

Friday evening is movie night provided by Netflix and the community gathered to watch "Paper clip" a story of a middle school in Tennessee whose students collected 6 million paperclips, one for each person killed in the Holocaust. A student had asked, "What does 6 million look like?" It is a beautiful movie telling the story of learning tolerance not only by the students over about 4 years of the project but also for the adult town members (1600) themselves. The memorial eventually included 11 million out of a total 29 million clips collected. The extra 5 million represent the others killed in the Holocaust. The school/town was visited by a group of Holocaust survivors from New York and a German couple who became very active with the students on the project obtained from Germany one of the actual cattle cars used to transport persons to the death camps. This cattle car became the repository for the paperclips and other mementos including letters from survivors/their families. After the movie we talked about the national movement of resistance to the Nazis by the Norwegians as they wore a paperclip to signify their non-violent decision not to obey Nazi commands.

On Saturday, everyone who chooses sleeps in, a couple of folks went to the Farmer's Market, others awoke to continue cleaning the property. Carol and Ardith worked on cutting brush, after getting soaked and rained out on Friday. Joe and Gary went to gather wood for the stove for winter warmth. I slept in, washed a sweater which I haven't been able to do as it needs to lay flat to dry (can't do that in a hotel room) and finished and showed to all who were interested Jason's photo album of his recovery at Walter Reed. Some of the Jonah House members were very emotionally and spiritually upset by the photos of Jason's injuries as they have all been to prison for committing civil disobedience to stop war beginning with the Vietnam era. I identify with them as I had the same feelings when I first arrived at Jason's bedside and all during these months that I have spent at WR with the suffering of other families and their wounded soldiers. It is only as a RC womanpriest of healing and reconciliation do I have the courage to be here for others. My love as his mother compels my presence for Jason as Mary at the Cross.

Saturday afternoon Gary and I headed to Baltimore's Charles Theater to attend the DaVinci Code. We invited everyone but they all begged off "with Saturday chores/we'll see the DVD." I had enjoyed the book as a "murder mystery" (not having any problem with its theological implications. It's fiction, folks). I enjoyed the movie especially the special effects that permitted the scenes to overlay the present with the past. Gary informed me that Baltimore has the highest violent crime rate in the nation. I thought, "I am glad Jonah House is located here to be a center of prayer and action for justice and peace." One of its ministries is supplying food for those who are hungry every Tuesday. We unloaded the food from the central food bank on Saturday morning. They fill up a van with macaroni and cheese, soups, boxes of cereal, pasta, etc. Bags of groceries are made up and distributed on Tuesday. They also use some of the purchased food for their own meals throughout the week. I only pray that the RCC would do more in the inner cities to provide jobs, health care and education and housing not close parishes and schools. But I digress...

When we got back from the movie and after dinner, the members take turns preparing meals, Liz suggested that we take the llamas and the goats for an evening walk out of their fenced in enclosure and around the cemetery paths. I couldn't have enjoyed any thing more than to see goats and llamas frolic along the paths in front of us. The pleasure expressed in the behavior of these animals brought tears to my eyes more than once as I watched the goats eat poison ivy, roses both the bushes and the flowers (none of this "Take time to smell the roses"-just "Eat them" attitude), mulberry trees, and wild grapes. The llamas walked ahead also tasting to their left and right sides of the path. They romping reminded me of kids let out of school after a hard day of work. They had been resting in their pasture yet once they got out of the enclosure it was as if none of the animals hadn't eaten in months! The grass is greener on the other side of the fence and poison ivy by the goat mouthful is delicious. The wonder of God's creation and the marvels of earth's evolution are spirit healing.

At the end of our walk, it was a delight to see the goats stretch up from their back legs to play a game of "catch us prune the plum tree." It must be a regular stop as the goats made a bee line for the tree immediately followed by Gary and Liz who literally collared them and dragged them down out of the leafy branches as "the goats unrepentantly chewed away." Made me laugh. Sort of like Charlie Brown and his kite. You know where the kite is going! We went in and as usual, I headed to bed about 9 PM falling asleep with the light on as the Peace of Jonah House settled into my soul and my body relaxed.

Sunday morning was another quiet slow time for me, however everyone else was preparing food and the liturgy which about 20 people of the Johan House Extended members attended. Susan presided and the liturgy with its shared homily/reflection time lasted about 2 and 1/2 hours. Some of the members present were Sr. Mary, Mary from CO, David, Joe, Rosemary and Art who had a DVD addressing the health issues surrounding the use of depleted uranium. Another movie discussed was Conviction the story of Sr. Carol's and Sr. Ardith's action at a nuclear weapons site. Both sisters went to prison and Ardith was only recently released after serving a 3 year sentence. Sr. Ardith said that her dad says, "I have the A to Z alphabet kids, one is in the military and one protests the actions of that military." The sisters told many stories of living near the SAC base in Michigan and befriending the soldiers and their families.

The readings focused on Ascension and "What it means to be a witness for Jesus/Compassion of God to the ends of the earth." We discussed the memory of the early faith community and what they were trying to communicate theologically about the Presence of Jesus with them by speaking of the resurrection and the ascension. After the service we ate lunch together and continued to discuss events, lives, and what it means to be a Peacemaker following Jesus. The sisters noted that research has shown that anyone in prison for 18 months suffers PTS. It is good Jonah House is a healing center for its members.

Liz who taught art history/appreciation/criticism said she did not like DaVinci "all of his figures are androgonous" as we had been talking about "Mary Magdalene in the Last Supper, not John (DaVinci Code)." Liz has been taking a water color class and showed us her photo copies of her latest Paul and Silas, the goats as they grazed by the barn. I know water color is a diffiuclt medium and she does very well. I looked at the goats, one is facing us, one is turned away. I thought of Liz and her deceased husband. Liz faces us. There is a wonderful collage hanging in the kitchen by Liz of the web of life filled with people, plants and animals. I liked it very much. It reminded me of my pastel called "Friends Visiting" and is of a mother elephant and her baby with the background being our front yard in Blacksburg. We are all one, all from one beautiful blue planet. Our DNA traces our development through the evolutionary process, will our love and compassion be our legacy for the next generation?

As I headed toward Jonah House on Thursday I remembered the ending line of Candide by Voltaire "That is very well put, said Candide, but we must cultivate our garden." I was not surprised but knew it to be synchronicity when I chose a bedroom, bright with sunlight and facing West with a copy of Candide on its bookshelf. Earlier in the chapter, they have a conversation with a Turk who says, "I have only twenty acres, replied the Turk; I cultivate them with my children, and the work keeps us from three great evils, boredom, vice and poverty. Candide, as he walked back to his farm meditated deeply over the words of the Turk...I know also, said Candide, that we must cultivate our garden."

Reflecting on my time at Jonah House, my first visit that the members do "cultivate our garden." The Garden of:
  • the reign of God, enfleshing justice and peace through action and through example of "Living simply so that others might simply live."
  • individual lives growing ever deeper into the Peace that only "God can give."
  • communal sharing of faith and support for one another and all whom God sends to their door of gracious hospitality as of Abraham and Sarah of old.
  • vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, and animals to nourish body and spirit
  • of the cemetery, honoring those who have died and providing a living witness to the cycle of life, death, and life. We all shall lie in the cemetery and only our love remain in the collective unconscious of humanity and memories of those who knew us.
Thank you, each member of Jonah House, "Nemaste," "The God in me greets the God in you." May the blessings you are and which you shared with me come back to you three fold. Till we meet again. May we walk humbly with God "in the garden in the evening" as we work for justice and peace.

To Have a Part
-Honored to Participate

I give thanks Holy Mystery,
to have a part in this evolutionary phenomenon,
and to strive for communion with all of life,
however diverse and bewildering,
to be alive and conscious
in the midst of an unfolding universe
whose existence stretches back
an almost unthinkable passage of time,
across an almost inconceivable ocean of space.

To know my own true name this day
is to recognize myself to be your creature, your child,
your very hope and promise,
and to pledge myself as faithfully as I can
to celebrate my part in this colossal drama
with passion and humility.
We are called to put our hands on creation and speak to it in words and touch, telling it how lovely it is--because it cannot remember. We are called to remember loveliness for one another until each of can remember, believe, and live in that love. Sr. Mary Goergen, OSF

Both from Prayers to an Evolutionary God by William Cleary:2004

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Jason Plans to Celebrate Memorial Day

We woke up at 4:30 this morning so that I might take Jason to Reagan National and send him on his way to Chicago. His dad was to visit Jason in DC this Memorial weekend. Dow said, "I really don't want to come to DC, how about you coming home?" Jason checked the plane fares and thanks to the travel fund, to which so many of you have contributed so generously, was able to say, "Got a good ticket price; I'll visit."

Jason has plans to visit with his friends and attend a concert, visit a new bar in Chicago, see the premier of the X-Men (I believe) and be the honored guest at a BBQ on Sunday hosted by his dad at our condo in Rogers Park. May Jason have a most wonderful time away in Chicago, making good memories.

I spent an hour this morning helping Chaplain Fran unpack in her new room. She obviously couldn't wait and had put away all her clothes and personal items. She was laying on the bed "resting" as I told her "too much PT" for you this morning! We sorted out many canned goods and sent to the Mologne "garage table" for others to use. It has a very nice mini kitchen which I am sure her family will put to good use when they visit. I didn't see any cooking utensils so a trip to the PX will be in order to buy the basic pots. It would be nice if Mologne House volunteers could keep the kitchens supplied with pots, etc. Fran's brother will come tomorrow for the holiday weekend. Blessings on them both. I learned if I have to do any packing I will definitely do it in "manageable junks of time and effort."

While Jason is away I will visit Jonah House in Baltimore returning on Monday to attend a memorial for Lt. Ken Ballard at Arlington National Cemetary to which I have been invited by his mother Karen. Jonah House has goats and a llama and a garden. I plan to pray and to rest among friends whose lives are Ministry of Peacemaking in the Roman Catholic tradition of non-violence and justice seeking. I am looking forward to this Sacred time and being in Sacred space found in the city. Such Places of Peace can be found where ever we live, we need to seek them out.

May your activities this weekend be filled with fun, laughter, friends and family as we celebrate Memorial Day and the "opening of summer." We are expecting rain showers in the Washington/Baltimore corridor pretty much all of the weekend.

Wednesday: Quote of the Day "FANTASTIC," Dr. Scott Golarz

Neither Jason nor I could fall asleep. Neither of us could say why. Jason said he had only a couple of hours of sleep. Psychic energy was just bouncing around our spirits and not letting us rest. It has been a number of months since I struggled to fall asleep in this manner. So when I awoke Jason to go to PT and his check in with Dr. Golarz he said, "Couldn't sleep, let me get a couple of hours" so I did. I woke him about 10 AM and he worked on installing his game got dressed and we walked over to the Wednesday Surgery Clinic. We did not have an appointment, not sure they keep their schedule that way so Jason read his latest book, "See No Evil." I read the newspapers to catch up on the latest shenanigans in politics and American life. I have come to like USA Today while I have been here and receive it free thanks to Mologne House.

Toward noon Jason was called in by Dr. Golarz and asked, "Going to Chicago for the weekend; can I get you anything?" Dr. G said, "Glad you're going, let's take a look at the wound." I told Dr. G about Jason's growing sensitivity to the glue in the "band aid" placed over the gauze patch. "We can fix that." Dr. G removed the wound dressing and exclaimed, "Fantastic!" his very favorite word for all the times he has checked Jason's wounds these last 7 months. Jason asked about a date for his 30 day con leave? "Come and see me in two weeks, I will be better able to tell you then." Instead of a gauze sticky Jason now has a gauze patch over the wound dressings and it is held in place by two strips of surgical tape. Let's hope this doesn't become a skin irritant for Jason. Dr. Golarz informed us that he would do his vascular specialty fellowship at Dallas Texas in a year, "Go Cowboys." I am sure that will become his mantra.

After we headed to Panera Bread so Jason could get his sandwich and return videos to Hollywood video. Jason worked on installing his game and began to play while I did a few chores around the room. Captain Fran has had no one staying with her since last weekend when her Aunt left. Chaplain Cpt. Fran and I had been playing telephone tag and I caught her in her room. "Katy, I will be moved today from my room. My family has asked for a suite so they can cook for me while they are here. I am exhausted from packing." I said, "I'll come right down." I arrived at her room and helped Fran by packing up a dresser full of canned goods that her family had purchased. Fran looked good but I could tell she was very tired and had no energy. We talked for a while and I left to go to Quixote for liturgy and dinner. I worry about Fran when I leave. Who will take care of her when her family is unable to be with her? I encouraged her to call Med Hold Company and ask for any help she might need. She said the chaplains had been very supportive of her when she first arrived but long term...Sigh, her experience re-confirms my position that Mologne House is the "8th floor of WR" and should provide all the support found in the actual hospital itself. If Fran's treatment goes well and she gains energy, I propose she become the chaplain for Mologne and Fisher Homes. A beautiful, gentle, loving spirit, such a treasure for the community of believers of the Christian faith.

At Quixote we prayed for Fran and all the soldiers. We prayed for all the soldiers who have died especially Alex and his family. It was such a blessing to be immersed into the Presence of Godde and the personal peace attending liturgy at Quixote brings my own spirit. May God provide you with gentle, loving, wise women and men to be with you on your journey of life. Please hold in your thoughts and prayers Jason's continual healing. Please imagine myself finding the right position when I return to Chicago shortly and begin my job search after taking some reflection and re-creation time for myself.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Uncle Stan Cohen Visits

Jason and I were up early. Jason was off to PT while I attended a funeral service at Washington's National Cathedral and internment at Arlington National Cemetary. When I got back late in the afternoon, Jason and I looked at his new voice activated computer he received today from the Veterans Administration. He began to load it with his favorite game Sid Meier's Civilization IV. I assume that the VA knows that computers are used for many things beside prepping for college classes. :-)

Around 4:00 we heard a knock on the door, we thought it was Jason's Uncle Stan come to visit. I opened the door and it was Active Reserve Duty Sargent Joe Leonard. I went with Joe to the Cherry Blossom Festival in March. We were happy to see him. "Got to tell you, I am leaving WR tomorrow!" Jason said, "Outstanding" I felt sad as I am going to miss Joe. His commander back in MN has worked it out that Joe can return to his home and family and if Med Board is in his future, Joe can do it through the local Army connections. Joe will have to go to Mississippi to be demobalized than head home to his wife and two preschool age children! We were so happy for Joe. Jason took our picture together and we exchanged addresses and email. It was so good to see Joe before he left and so glad he took the time to stop by. He has purchased a new car, a Honda I believe so will be driving home. I am so happy for this young man who I know will make a wonderful deacon and maybe a married priest one day. May God keep Joe and his family in the palm of God's hand.

Then we decided I should check down in the Mologne lobby. Maybe Uncle Stan was waiting. I headed down and the lobby was full of folks including Stan! Stan said he had just arrived as traffic had been heavy. He and I headed to the room where Jason was waiting. Jason said, "Let's head out to Silver Springs for a coffee." We sat outside with a Starbucks and talked for awhile then headed for the Macaroni Grill and dinner of pasta. Jason and Stan spent the time talking about stocks especially in the gaming industry and wines as that is also one of Stan's many interests. Jason asked about the work of security at embassies as one of his fellow officers was looking for such a position. I thought that we might top dinner off by stopping at the Ben and Jerry's for a shake for Jason but Jason didn't suggest, must have been too full from his pasta dish. Jason drove back to Mologne and we said "Goodbye" to Stan. Jason will not be able to see him again as Stan returns to Brussels on Saturday. Jason promised that Jodi and he would try to visit Stan, Judy and Ben in Brussels, possibly in the fall. I remember Jason telling me, "I want to make memories, not remember them," very early after his injury and arrival at WR. I really do believe Jason and Jodi will do just that.

Katy's Tuesday:
Today it was my honor and privilege to attend the funeral service "In Celebaration and in Thanksgiving for the Life of Alessandro Carbonaro: April 19, 1978-May 10, 2006. I would especially like to remember the Honor Guard of Motorcycle Riders who stood in lines each holding a flag. Each of them a veteran him or herself. It was a clear blue sky day with a strong wind and the flags did wave in salute as the honor guard of Marines brought the flag covered casket from the hearse into the Cathedral foyer where the family waited.

The service was very moving with two young men both friends of Alex giving tribute to his life. As they fought to hold back tears we listeners could not and openly cried as we heard of the care of Alex for his brothers especially in the Marines. The music was beautiful especially the children's choir which sang Panga Linqua and the violin solo Allegro from Concerto in E by Vivaldi

We then travelled to Arlington Cementary via the St Albans (affiliated with the Cathedral) school bus where Gilda teaches Spanish. We first gathered in a center for families then drove to the gravesite where final prayers were said. The Marine Honor Guard presented flags one to the parents of Alex and one to his widow Gilly. Taps was played on the bugle and a gun salute was given. My heart was touched at the beauty of the folding of the flag that had draped the coffin and when it was given to the family. All were invited to say a final goodbye at the coffin.

I would like to share from the service prayers

Almighty God, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give you thanks for all your servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country, especially Alex and his teammates Cory Paler, Stephen Bixler, and Bradley Fulkes. Grant to them your mercy and the ight of your presence. We commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad, especially Alex's surviving treammate Jeffrey Elmore. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace: strengthen them in their trials; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be.

This was written as a poem but the blog does not permit such spacing.

From an Old Marine

Mom, Dad weep for me. For the drooping bouquet of buttercups I brought you when I was little, For the times I sought comfort in your arms when I was scared, For the perfect throw to first base, For the dropped infield fly.

I know that my mother turned to my father in the night, Saying please don't let anything happen to my little boy. I know that my father made pledges he knew he had no way to keep. I knew their love, every day of my life.

My darling wife, weep for me, For I knew your love. It was always you with whom I wanted eternity, With whom I wanted children of our own, Wiping noses, carrying them on my shoulders when they are tired.

Marines with whom I shared danger, hardship and mirth, I thank you for your friendship, for your help. I tried my best to keep you safe, so that your might go home whole. I love others who have always loved me, But none more than you, my brothers.

My countrymen, my fellow Americans, I freely chose to serve you in this way. I was proud to serve, glad to wear the uniform. Did I die for anyone's freedom, in the defense of my country and loved ones? Ask yourselves when you look into the faces of those I loved. Go and act as their eyes tell you.

I am part of you, from you, of you. Am, not was, for I live in you.

By Doug Nelson; May 10, 2006

It was a special blessing to see many of the members of Military Families Speak Out(MFSO) present at the service and burial. Also present were members of Gold Star Families, those who have lost a soldier in this war. These members especially Gilda, Nan, Mike, Jeff were present and supported us and Jason in those life-threatening first days at Walter Reed when Jason needed someone around the clock to keep him from choking on his own blood and mucous. As we stood in the large group gathered at the graveside to say our final "Goodbyes" to Alex I felt a golden cord of love and compassion and peacemaking between us all. Wrapping Gilda and her family in bonds of friendship. Amidst despair the golden bonds of hope, working that one day the world will say, "War is Not the Answer" (Rev. Martin Luther King)

Let us keep all those who have died and their families in our thoughts and prayers. Let us strive to enflesh the American ideals to honor these fallen soldiers who went to war in our name and did not return to their loved ones.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Jason Sees Poseidon

I thought cousin Gary Lewis was going to take me to the Metro this morning, however he cooked my egg and toast breakfast and drove me all the way back to Walter Reed. I asked him to come and see if we could find Jason. We found a parking spot by Mologne but Jason and Jodi were not at Mologne. After Gary dropped me off, I got a call from Jason and he wanted to eat lunch at Panera's and see a show if there was one scheduled that he'd hadn't seen yet.

We caught up with each other's weekend's activities over lunch and tried the show. There wasn't any we both wanted to see but Jason decided he wanted to watch Poseidon so I walked back to WR to resume my daily regime of walking 2.5 miles for exercise. Jason will continue to practice driving the car so he will drive back to WR. Jason said that Poseidon was "okay."

When I got back to the room, I began washing clothes, doing the blog and the phone rang. It was Jason's Uncle Stan Cohen (my sister Judy's husband) from Brussels here to see about "next-step" housing for his mother. (I reported on my visit with Florence in an earlier blog). Florence would like to return to her own home so Stan will have to decide if, with assistance for Florence, that is possible. Because of his and Jason's schedule, Stan has only tomorrow afternoon to visit Jason so he will have to "make it work" if at all possible.

I went to the mess hall for dinner and Jason went to Wendy's as he called me while I was eating my salad and asked, "Want anything from Wendy's?" I said, "No thanks." So we met later at the room. Jason talked to Jodi on the phone while I went downstairs and talked to Lisa about the "end of school year." I am collecting boxes to help pack Jason up and store while he is on con leave whenever the Doc gives his approval. I have to begin to pack for my return to Chicago.

If you have any connections in Chicago let me know as I will be looking for work on my return. Let us give thanks for friends and families and movie makers. Let us give thanks for beautiful days in spring; this one had blue sky sprinkled with puffy clouds.

Weekend Report: May 20

Jason and Jodi spent the weekend together. They saw Over the Edge and the highlight of the weekend was going to a Vaudville Show with Dan and Erin. Jason said the jokes were as corny as expected but they all wanted to have more. Jason said, "Too much singing in this show." He did say the singers were good he just wanted more of the traditional comedy acts. Jason was also impressed by the sword swallower who swallowed a lit "neon tube" Jason said you could see the glow through his skin. Vaudville Revival is "in" as one of the acts is going to a national gathering in Las Vegas.

Jason was up early to take Jodi to the airport on Monday morning.

I really enjoyed my time with the our cousins Monica and Gary Lewis and their daughter Marcie at their apartment home in Waldorf, MD. Gary is a consultant for Homeland Security so we didn't talk much about his work. Monica works for Harris Teeter checking bar code prices of all the products in a store, never ending as the State makes price monitoring visits each month. We literally spent the weekend talking and catching up as grandmothers, mothers, and cousins. Monica and Gary have been gone from Punxtawney PA for 8 years so do not have the close ties with the Zatsick side of the family as their two grown daughters live nearby in MD.

I walked the trail in their apartment subdivision which reminded me very much of our subdivision in Blacksburg VA. Waldorf was a sleepy town when Monica and Gary moved there, but has been developing like crazy and now has about 80,000 in population. It was wonderful to sleep with the window open and be awakened by birdsong at 5 AM. I would listen and when it was over before six fall back to sleep until about 8 AM. Gary does the cooking and makes amazing dishes. Breakfast is his specialty so I had wonderful eggs and toast "served up just for me."

Gary and Monica love stripping and redoing old furniture. Marcie their daughter loves old pieces so Sunday we went to a local flea market housed in a old tobacco barn. There was furniture for sale but, of course, "Sold" was on the pieces Marcie was looking for-a curio/china cabinet. The selection was sparse as the season probably opens on Memorial Day weekend. There were stands with items just put up but not organized.

We stopped at a vegetable stand and bought fresh local cabbage. Gary made a Polish dish that Aunt Helen Verona made: it is _____. Made of cabbage, egg noodles and onions. I do not remember ever having it, but it was wonderful! We also had fresh asparagus and musk melon from Florida which was just perfect in ripeness. Aunt Helen would go to her daughters' homes if asked and teach them how to cook the Polish traditional recipes that were "without written directions." She like my own mother did not let the children cook as youngsters. I really think it was because our families were poor and had limited funds. Like my mother and dad, Aunt Helen and her husband grew vegetables to supplement the food for the family. Like my mother Aunt Helen canned "the food for the winter." Aunt Helen also was a good Polka dancer and was willing to teach her children and grandchildren how to polka! I wish she could have taught me!

A special thanks to Monica and Gary for their wonderful hospitality. A special thank you to Marcie for her wisdom and caring for abused children through her position as social worker for protective services. May God bless Marcie's work in taking care of those most vulnerable in our communities. Let us be thankful for the elders in our families. May we spend time "listening to their stories" and honoring their lives and the gifts they gave us. May we share their stories and their wisdom with the next generations. Let us continue to hold in thought and prayer Jason's healing especially of his surgery incision so that he may go on con leave.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Jodi Comes for a Visit

Jason and I headed over to PT at 8:30 this morning. Kyla helped with the wound dressing change and it went well. Jason said pouring saline on the dressing before removal really helped and nothing was like the removal of the sponges for a painful experience. Jason will walk Jodi through the dressing change this evening.

I am off to visit our cousins on Jason's grandfather Zatsick's(my father) side of the family. Monica (and her husband Gary) is my dad's youngest sister's daughter and live in Waldorf MD. I am to go to the end of the Green line and they will pick me up there.

Jodi is flying in from Orlando and will spend the weekend with Jason.

May each of you be blessed with a beautiful peaceful weekend with time for chores and relaxation.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jason Drives to WR from Chinatown

We were up at 6:45 to go to Surgery Clinic on the 5th floor for a 7:30 appointment. Dr. Golarz removed the wound vacuum and said, "We will go to wet to dry dressings. You (Katy) will change the dressing twice a day. Come back at 3:30 and you can go through the change process. It will take time for this wound to heal." Jason said "This time the removal of the sponge did not hurt as much. The anticipation was worse than the actual removal."

Jason and I headed down to Chinatown because Jason wanted to eat at the Matchbox. We each had a personal pizza-mine had artichokes and mushrooms. Yummm. Jason had sausage on his. Jason wanted to check for some good hiking shoes. We went to City Sports and he purchased two pairs, hikers for Scotland and "shower slippers." Jason drove us back to Walter Reed up 14th Street.

Back to WR and Dr. Golarz I practiced/watched as
  1. Wet gauze with saline solution.
  2. Cut off chunk about 2 inches long for stoma wound.
  3. Pack incision with gauze
  4. Cover with a square of gauze
  5. Cover with protective plastic square.
I had been fearing this as I did not know if I could emotionally do the procedure, to see Jason's open raw flesh and his surgery wounds . I dropped the first gauze that I prepared. I told Dr. Golarz, "If I pass out don't let my head hit a sharp corner." When done I said, "I didn't pass out and I didn't vomit." He said, "Come back tomorrow and I will walk you through it again." Dr. Golarz said, "His stoma wound is healing well. It is very small."

Jason went to the pharmacy for the wound care items and I headed back to Mologne. Jennifer from the production company making a documentary(possible title "Fighting for life") on military health care called and said they were on the way. I asked Jason and he said, "I thought they were coming next Thursday." He said it was okay and we could meet with them in the courtyard behind Mologne. Terry and Jennifer arrived with Eric and Bruce and we went outside. They interviewed Jason while I talked with Jennifer. Then Terry said, "We'd like to interview you also." I sat next to Jason on the bench and he asked me where I was when I first heard the news.

I thought you have not written about this on the blog so...Dow was in Chicago and I was visiting Lisa and Charlie and the grandkids in Tampa. We got the call after midnight from Dow who had just been notified. Lisa came into where I was sleeping crying. We gathered the basics. "Hurt badly, lost an arm. In Bilad." Both Lisa and Dow did not believe this call and wanted to verify as Jason had warned us about a cruel joke, folks call soldiers families and tell them their soldier is hurt. Lisa got on the phone with a friend connected to the military to find out how to verify. (I believe Jason stayed in Bilad about a day then was flown to Landstuhl in a medically induced coma for pain control.) Charlie awoke and we all went to the family room. We were all in shock and all were crying. I said, "We don't know if Jason is alive or if he will live, let us spend time in prayer." We prayed for life, for all who would take care of Jason, for forgiveness of those who had done this, for peace, for ourselves and what was to come. Sometimes we sat in the stillness. We hugged each other and cried.

I decided to stay with Lisa, my plane left on Sunday, I believe, as we could do nothing till we heard more. I knew Lisa needed my support. Early Saturday Lisa contacted everyone by email letting them know that Jason was injured by and IED and was considered Very Seriously Injured or critical in civilian medicine.

Terry then went on to ask me "How was it when you first saw Jason at WR?" I arrived on Thursday after Jason's arrival at WR on Tuesday. I had not thought of a metaphor for the experience of seeing Jason for the first time and the immediate experiences after until Terry asked. Until today I have answered, "I entered the living Hell of a peace activist." Today I said, "It was as if I was holding the lava pouring from an erupting volcano. Trying to hold the physical, emotional, spiritual needs of Jason and Dow and myself. Trying to garner the resources necessary to save Jason's life and make good decisions for his care." I like this metaphor since our interview this afternoon. For this experience has seared my soul, burned up all else, consumed all else that came before. Diann Neu my therapist here said this last session, "This experience has changed you." I stand emotionally and spiritually in a different place. If I was told that I had a terminal disease, I would not blink. My own death would be far easier compared to the experience of having my only son wounded so horrifically in war. The lava burns away all in its path and what is my truth is clearly seen as all else has been devoured by the heat and fire.

Please hold in your thoughts Jason's healing. He and Jodi have plans to go to Scotland in late June. His incision wound must close completely. Image Jason's incision closed and healed without infection or complication. Image Jason healed and enjoying his convalescence leave in Scotland. May Jason heal completely in mind, body and spirit. May you rest comfortably this night giving thanks for life.

Wednesday 5/17

Jason slept into 10:30, drank OJ while I got ready to head out to counseling in Silver Spring and a 5 mile walk round trip on a very pretty day.

Getting back to the room, Jason needed to get dressed. He now needs a belt to keep his pants up. Jason tried to wear his Skin belt but it caught his belly stitches so he had to take it off. Jodi and he spent time on the same Scotland page checking out the sights. After Jason decided to go to Macaroni Grill for an afternoon lunch and I thought this maybe my last time to eat here. I ate the wonderful warm herb bread with butter while Jason dipped his in olive oil.

Returning to Mologne we had a quiet afternoon until I left for Quixote Center and liturgy. The circle was small with 5 members present. The readings for the coming Sunday (which we use as our reflections) are the famous passages about God is Love (1 John 4:7-10). I had brought a candle for each member of the circle and said, "You have been the Light of God's Love for me in a personally dark time spiritually. The Love of this circle has sustained me. I will always hold you in my heart. When you light the candle do say a prayer of healing for Jason and I."

When I got back to the room, Jason was getting ready to watch Top Chef. We thought this was the end of the show but it was an elimination round and the end is next week. Humph. They cooked in a Las Vegas hotel for different "players" including actual pokerplayers who liked chicken wings best! (good tasting finger food). The chef who won likes to play poker and made food he likes!

Lights out at 11 as Jason must get up at 6:45 for his "Wound vac check to see if can come off" appointment.

May all of you know that you are of God who is Love in the friendship and compassion you have shown to Jason and all our family. Blessings.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Whose Heading North on Georgia Ave? Jason

Today was a quiet Tuesday. I wrote the blog, read emails, washed clothes as Jason slept in to about 11 AM. I went over to the mess hall and got a sandwich for Jason for lunch and a pretzel.

We had a quiet afternoon watching TV and organizing the room. I wrote birthday cards for the rest of May as I like to "stay in touch" the 20th century way, snail mail. Late in the afternoon, Jason said, "Let's go out to eat, I think I want Lebanese." As you know, my favorite is Lebanese so off we went. I asked, "Jason want to take a crack at driving on Georgia?" He said, "Sure" and gave it a try. Tight turns are the most difficult as his left wrist is still inflexible. Also I wonder if a key can be placed on the left side as it was hard for him to manipulate the off/on movement with a right hand key placement.

Jason was looking for a guide book to Scotland at Borders as he plans to travel there with Jodi while on his 30 day con leave. After Jason got a Ben and Jerry's Mint chocolate chip shake for desert. When we got back to the room, Jason had purchased a DVD of the Producers so we watched the musical while he text messaged Jodi. The movie wasn't over till 10 PM, then he talked to Jodi about travel plans. After Jason read the novel that Henry Clum (friend from collage) sent him until he finished it. Don't know how long that took Jason, but it was early this morning in the wee hours that he finished it.

Let us give thanks for travel plans and Jason's healing of body, spirit and mind. May all your summer outings and vacations and events be filled with happy memories and gatherings of families and friends. Blessings

Monday, May 15, 2006

Wallet? What Wallet?

Jason slept in to about 10 AM. When I returned from signing in for the family meeting Jason was finishing his shower. I began to clean out the goodies from under the bed. I gave away some food from the early-on care packages that Jason said he wouldn't eat. I gave the items to the "Mologne House Table" in the lobby, as I have said before it is a "free garage sale" and staff and family members take the items. That is where I will put all items not wanted by Jason as he packs for his 30 day convalescence leave (hopefully beginning the first week of June). I like the idea so much to give to those just arriving at Mologne House. I sorted papers and books and etc.

We headed to the hospital to take care of Monday morning chores.
  1. First we went to Surgery Clinic because Jason was to have his wound vac checked and sponge replaced. They said Dr. G was away and come back later at 1 PM. So we did some other chores first. Removing the old sponge hurts Jason as it attaches to the tissue by the fluids of the body. I wince when he hurts. Jason was hoping to have the vac removed but Dr. Amy asked Dr G (not present) and Dr. G said he will check it on Thursday and decide if the vac can be removed. It still makes me queasy to look at the wound and Jason's inner flesh.
  2. Dow needed Jason's signature to apply for a subsidized trip to see Jason Memorial Day weekend. For the first time Jason went to Family Assistance, walking. Everyone looked at him. Moscow one of the staff said, "He is doing so well and looks so good." I said, "Doesn't he!" Jason only had to write his signature and Moscow said she would contact Dow and complete the application.
  3. Jason had received an email from his commander at Ft Stewart. The Treasury Department had personal items that belonged to Jason. Jason was intrigued, "What could it be? Why was it at WR and not in Ft. Stewart or Chicago?" His other items had all arrived at one of the two places except his 300 item DVD collection that was stolen. A scavenger hunt by any other name...So off we went to the 2nd floor and the soldier manning the desk could not find Jason's notice in his handy file. He comes back with another civilian with keys. They open something out of sight and return with a plastic bag with Jason's wallet. Jason exclaims,"How the heck?" The soldier begins taking things out of small plastic bags in the big plastic bag: Jason's wallet itself, credit cards, Military ID, driver's license, and $27 in cash which he counted out to Jason. Now to answer Jason's puzzlement, "Why in Treasury?" I begin to look at the ID tags: "Jason this Red Cross tag is from Bilad to Landstuhl. Jason this tag is from Landstuhl to WRAMC. Jason this tag says the wallet arrived with you on the 18th at WR!" Mystery solved, the wallet did come with Jason all the way from Iraq. Now a new mystery, "Why was it in Treasury and Ft. Stewart never notified till this week?" "Why couldn't Treasury find Jason as he was an inpatient till February and been on the Post all this time?" I don't think Jason wants to pursue the chain of command of the "wallet communications." So you all can come up with your own answers. Jason said it sure would have been nice as we had to cancel and obtain new credit cards and IL driver's license.
  4. Jason and I had lunch in the mess hall for the first time. Jason had the Monday special-a huge hamburger. The "Gov" was there and I asked him to extend my very sincere apologies for the rose/politics fiasco on Mother's Day to Dr. Wagner whom I assume was as livid as I was shocked and embarrassed for the behavior of peace volunteers.
  5. Jason stopped off at PT to once again schedule workouts with Kyla. He will begin again this week. We saw the Pet Therapy staff member while there. He is a cute big puppy, what a job, he literally "laid down and spread out" on the floor.
As we were walking back to Mologne, we saw a young African-American woman burning something on the ground. Jason stopped to talk to a soldier and I thought I would stop and ask if I could help. I saw that she was burning a pair of about size 2 shoes, "Hello, I am Katy, would you like to talk? May I help?" "I am Lee, I am okay" and she begins to cry. "Sometimes we can't talk, May I give you a hug?" "Yes, please do." I wrap her in my arms and feel her deep pain and hold on to her for her dear life. "I'm in room 316, please call anytime if you would like to talk." I begin to enter Mologne and out comes a woman African-American manager. I tell her of the encounter, "Please see if you can talk to her, she needs someone to be with her." I look back and the women are talking. Please keep Lee in your good thoughts and prayers and all those who loose children in any way.

Jason rested in the afternoon and I headed to the Noodles company getting bowls for Jason and myself. I walked the track after 8 PM and love this time of gentle evening light. I took photos but do not know how they will come out as I am using disposable cameras.

Please continue to pray for Jason's healing of his mind, body and spirit. Please pray and hold in your good thoughts Jason's future-may it be bright and full of happy memories and wonderful travel and adventures. May he and Jodi enjoy his 30 day leave that is coming soon. Please pray for my future as I return to Chicago without a position and for my relationships there. Hold good thoughts for me and all of our family as we begin a new time on the journey of life as individuals and a family. I will hold each of you in my hearts as I give thanks for your support and care.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Who's Behind the Wheel? Jason! That's Who

Today being Mother's Day, the schedule was a little different.
Jason slept in till about 10:30, talked to Jodi and asked, "What do you want to do today?" Jason said, "What about lunch and a movie?" Lois Spoden had called earlier and just then called again. Jason got on the phone, "What are you doing coming to visit me on Mother's Day?" I said, "Jason Lois is like a second mother to you and a friend." I think Lois truly is. Anyway I don't know who persuaded whom, but Lois said she would bring her 16 year old son Chris and come for lunch. They would be at Mologne about 2:30.

Jason spent time on the computer and then Lt. Ken Ballard's mother called. She had visited Arlington cemetery this morning and was at the airport going home early. Karen had wanted to meet with Jason today but she needed to "get out of DC." Jason and Karen had a nice visit over the phone. She asked about photos of Ken but Jason had lost his digital photos along the journey. Karen will be back Memorial Day and wants to try to get together with Jason that weekend.

Lois and Chris arrived and we headed out to McGinty's Irish Pub because Macaroni Grill had an hour wait for dinner. Everyone was taking their mothers out to dinner there. When we got to McGinty's we were the ONLY people in the pub! I said, "Jason you take mothers to the "hot spots!" The food at McGinty's IS good and we all recommend it. Lois loved the clam chowder, Chris loved his macaroni and cheese. Jason had Guiness beef stew and I had fish and chips. Jason couldn't believe I "peeled" the batter from the fish and ate the fish. Chris made us smile with his favorite animal stories including "An elderly lady reported a peeping tom to the police, when they arrived they found a raccoon clinging to the screen. And a Park ranger stopped a man who was trying to get a black bear into the driver's seat. The man said, "I wanted to take a picture of a bear behind the wheel with my wife in the passenger's seat."

After lunch Chris and Lois had to leave, Chris said, "I didn't get to tell Jason about my career possibilities." We all felt badly, "Chris you and your mom will have to take Jason out to lunch another day so you can talk to him about careers." We took pictures outside of the pub and I said "Goodbye" as I will probably not see Lois again before I leave WR. "Thank you" Lois and Dan for being such good friends.

After the movie Art School Confidential with John Malkovich (sp?), Jason and I headed back to Mologne. I asked, "Jason want to practice driving the car?" He has not driven a car since before going to Iraq and not since he arrived at Walter Reed. "Okay, Mom pull it over and I will give it a try." So I switched places after we entered the Post and Jason drove for about a half hour through the parking lots, in the underground garage, around traffic circles and parking. Jason parked at Mologne and said, "That was a real workout for my wrist." I hadn't thought of driving as OT/PT. Jason felt good about his "first time out behind the wheel." Jason did say "Driving is hard on the stitches" in his belly.

After Jason headed to the room, the rain had stopped and the sun was the beautiful early evening and I headed for the track for a walk. Earlier I had called soldier Joe (trip to Lourdes) as he had wanted to get together for Mother's Day and I couldn't make it. We are talking on the cell as I walk around the track. And there is Joe looking at a pick-up in the parking lot! I say, "Joe? Is that you?" It was like a scene from a movie or a sit-com. Joe said, "I sure am glad I didn't lie about where I was." What a hoot, life imitating art. Joe said that he had been able to run a lap and a half earlier today and I was happy for him. "Walk with me, I will help you do PT." Joe joined me for about 2 times around and said, "You walk at a good pace, I will have to bow out." We make a date for Tuesday lunch as I want to go out with Joe before I leave and I won't be on Post for most of the next two weekends. Joe is such a very nice young man and he has been a blessing in my time here. It will be so hard to say "Good bye" to the friends I have made while I have been at WR.

Flowers to say "Thank You and Happy Mother's Day."

I have lived by the rule for myself while I have been at WR: Politics exist outside the Post. They are not to enter Jason's room or presence. While I am here on the grounds, Jason's healing has been the focus of all my wits, experience, and spiritual and emotional energy as mother and as patient advocate. A group that holds vigils for peace and "to take care of our soldiers when they come home-health care and benefits" offered to contribute flowers for Mother's Day for the mothers at Mologne. When I was told there would be over 300 roses to distribute I was taken aback. I thought this gives me an opportunity to say "thank you" to all the personnel whom I can meet today, knowing that I would never be able to say blessings to each of all the many, many staff who have cared so tenderly for Jason both in and out of the hospital. Whom God sends me, I will offer thanks for their gifts in Jason's life.

I firmly believe that God is Love and even though it is Mother's Day, the Compassion and Tender Care given by all the staff at WR to patients and we family members is "Mother/Father God." Through their Compassion, WR staff create the Sacred Space where healing can take place for family and soldier patients. We know the concrete reality of the physical suffering and healing at Walter Reed well, Compassion is the emotional and spiritual reality we experience if we are open and can "see and hear and feel" its Presence. Compassion brings healing for one's soul.

I also know that for workers in an institution, oftentimes "Thanks" are not offered, only criticism for performance. I wanted to say thanks to those who oftentimes receive no thanks. So with these intentions and understanding of the "gift of roses for Mother's Day" I meet the volunteers, I think about 5 as we are to carry roses to family and staff at Mologne, to Fischer houses, to each of the religious services, cafeteria, and wards where Jason has stayed as an inpatient. We added the pediatric ward on the recommendation of a RN. The roses are of every color and fill 5 buckets. I understand that the roses were to carry a "Happy Mother's Day" instead we have to strip the roses of Julie Ward Howe's 1870 original proclamation as it is too political for my approval.

We meet family members and staff and children and soldiers at Mologne offering wishes for the day. It was so good for me to be able to say, "Take extra for staff to say thank you for their care." The soldiers and staff were very glad to do so. One soldier in a wheel chair said, "Give me a bunch, the nurses have been so good to me." His feelings made my eyes fill with tears. Some of us went to Fischer and others went to the hospital. The minister at the 9:30 hospital service thanked us and asked for a dozen roses so he could give out to the mothers at his service.

While we waited on the third floor lobby area, we talked with a worker from the kitchen. She poured out her story of grief as she remembered loosing her uncle and mother. She told of how she sprinkled her mother's ashes on her father's grave "Mom had said that she wanted to be sprinkled there, I know I shouldn't have but..." I assured her she had done the right thing. She took two roses, one for each of her children. I thanked her for her work at the hospital and how her work provided for the soldier patients and my son. We hugged and wished each other "Happy Mother's Day." And my heart sang.

After the Catholic service, staff took bunches of the roses "to share with the members of my department." Everyone was so happy to take the roses and remarked on their beauty and were thankful for being remembered on Mother's Day. Each time I could I offered thanks and a reminder that their tender care and work supported patient soldiers and their family members as a mother cares for her children.

I gave a rose to the "Guv" when I met him in the mess hall. I thanked him for his work with the families of patient soldiers. I met Dr. Aquila after Mass and I offered him a rose for his care of Jason here at WR. I met Solomon one of the PT's and offered him a rose as thanks. Some persons asked for a white rose because their mothers had died. Some took roses for daughters or other family members. I gave roses to the Security guards both inside and at the Main Gate to the Post. I said, "Thank you" to all persons I gave the roses to.

When I returned to Mologne, the maid was visiting, I gave her one of the roses I had saved for our room. I thanked her for the work she did taking care of the soldiers' rooms. She told me of her grief this mother's day as her cousin, age 17 had just been shot and killed, I think she said two weeks ago. She was going home and her husband would cook. She asked him "What are you cooking?" He wouldn't tell her "A surprise." She smiled and we wished each other a "Happy Mother's Day" and I said I would keep her, her 4 children and her cousin's family in my prayers.

"Giving Thanks" for the goodness of others. What a wonderful morning to be able to say thanks with roses of many colors. Blessings to each of you this Mother's Day for your care and love you have offered us on our journey of healing.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Jason and Dan Do Silver Spring

Jason slept in till about noon. I put up the "Privacy Please" on the door, remembering the hospital episodes of the last week. Dan called and said he was ready to go out as he had returned from a military training junket to exotic places: Danville, Virginia. I do believe that many a year (80's) ago Dow did research at a sewing plant there/near there. Jason and Dan went to Silver Spring to see...Mission Impossible III. Jason said, "It was okay" when I returned about 6 PM from my day on the Mall. I asked if he wanted something for dinner, he asked for a Ben and Jerry's Mint Chocolate Chip milkshake. However when I went to the store, about 30 people were in line. The line was just too long so I went to Whole Foods and got him a Jamba Juice: Peach with protein boost.

Katy's Day:
The day was forecasted to have rain in the afternoon so I packed my raincoat and umbrella. When we reached the Mall the sun was shining in almost a clear blue sky and so it would stay throughout the visit.

Patrice Gilbert who is a professional photographer and Jason's and my friend said she would go with me to the Mall. Allison Snow another friend had said she wanted to attend the events also. At least three events were taking place on the Mall very near the White House and the Washington Monument. I was not able to attend the Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) events as they were held earlier in the day. Patrice and I arrived shortly before 3 PM at the AFSC (Quaker) Memorial Exhibit that travels the country. It is called "Eyes Wide Open" and originated in Chicago where I had attended it and also in Milwaukee. It is a pair of military boots representing every US soldier killed in Iraq, now over 2400 pairs. They are layed out in a grid according to State. Many carry attached personal mementos and letters from family/friends.

Growing ever larger is the portion of the Memorial that includes pairs of shoes of women, men and children from Iraq killed in the war, now estimated to be over 100,000 civilians. These are layed out in a pattern of a meditation called the labyrinth inviting the visitor to follow ever deeper into the circle. Shoes of every size and type from infant to adults are included. Many have an identifier tag attached: age 1, age 6. Some have a picture and a story attached: My father age 69... I walk amongst them and think of my own grandchildren and nieces and nephews and tears come to my eyes.

Many people are walking among the shoes reading quietly, heads bowed down. I walk amongst the shoes of our soldiers knowing there are boots here from soldiers Jason knew. As I walk I feel the pain and suffering of the soldiers who have died. I am caught up in the feelings of combat before death. I say a prayer for peace for them and solace for their families. I found Lt. Ken Ballard's shoes on a table with notes from his Memorial Blog and his mother's blog (Jason and fellow Captains visited his grave in Arlington). The table carried items too large to lay out in the grid. Nearby was the uniform of soldier Lucey who committed suicide after his tour in Iraq. His family gave it to the exhibit and columns of the newspaper reports. As when I saw it for the first time in Milwaukee, my heart clenched for his parents and family and friends. Suicide is so devastating and tears the heart out of the relationships of those who cared.

Later on our way back to the car, Patrice said "I would like to visit the exhibit again." We headed toward it but it was now being taken down as a severe storm was forecasted tonight and tomorrow. Patrice stopped and took photographs while I listed to the "roll call" by state as the boots were being put away to move on to Philadelphia. "Maryland: Sgt Alessandro Carbonaro." I had thought of Gilda and her husband earlier when I saw the boots and wondered if Alex's had been added as Gilda and her husband are now members of a Goldstar Family. Now I felt I had completed my own memorial ritual for Alex. His name called, his boots packed away. Gone on the winds of time and into the history of the wars of humanity. Being present when his name had been called for the very first time as it will be called wherever the exhibit is created, I felt honored and that I had honored Alex, son of a friend. I was present when Gilda could not be. So the Circle of Compassion is open but never broken. I will think of Alex and Ken when I visit the Memorial in the future.

The visit was to Sacred Space and Sacred Time and Peace enters into one's soul if you or I are open.

Here we met Allison, thank goodness for the dreaded cell phones and headed to the Code Pink Vigil kick off. We were on the South(?) side (nearest Mall) of the White House. I didn't know what was planned and surprise it was a picture, using all of us, laying down to spell out "Moms say No War." Codepink is really creative in their actions. I would estimate about 300 folks were present. We were told that the photo would be taken from above. I am thinking "helicopter?" No, ...from the top of the Washington Monument. Photographer intrepid Patrice who I had been teasing about being "in the picture, not taking it" was separated from us as they pointed us to lie down here and there to make a W. The raincoat did come in handy as I layed down on it! All of a sudden my cell rings, it is Patrice. "Patrice, where are you? "Heading to the top of the Washington monument to take a picture!" I think you have to walk up stairs to get to the top. She just had to do it! Of course, Patrice is not part of her/history like we will be. :-) We were told that CNN had it on almost immediately.

I had headed to the "W" and looking at me is a wonderful wise Elder from Chicago! "Katy, I am so glad to see you." We reintroduce ourselves. Marsda is from Oak Park near Chicago and has been keeping up with Jason's progress through Dave Martin a mutual friend who had arranged a bus from Chicago for the September 2005 Peace Rally here in DC. Thirty hours of bus riding for 6 hours in DC, but it was worth it. Of the three moms with soldiers in Iraq that trip, one's son was killed, Jason seriously injured and I do not know the other's outcome. Marsda layed with her feet at my head. After we took pictures with her niece Katy and, I believe, a friend. When ever I see one of my wise Elders, I think "She is my future. I will be attending these events until my health stops me or I can't get up off the ground!" I have a friend in one of the Chicago Peace circles who is 88, comes every Tuesday, rain or freezing.

After being a "living letter" we headed for the Codepink campsite near the White House. There we met another mother from Chicago who is in Military Families Speak Out, Linda Englund. Her son has served I believe 2 tours in Iraq and has been hit by shrapnel. He will not be going to Iraq from Germany this tour because his wife(age 21) is very seriously ill with cancer. My heart breaks for her this Mother's Day. It was good to see Linda and spend time catching up.

Let us pray and hold in good thoughts all mothers this Mother's Day, especially those of soldiers who have died, are injured or in combat. Blessings to each of you on Mother's Day as we remember or are able to spend time with our own mothers.

In Memoriam: Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro: Died May 10, 2006

It is with great sadness, I report the death of Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro, son of Gilda who has visited and stayed with Jason in October. From Alex's obituary in the Washington Post May 12, 2006:

A US Marine from Bethesda died Wednesday from wounds received in Iraq, 18 days before his first wedding anniversary. "They had so many plans, so many things they wanted to do," the Marine's mother, Gilda Carbonaro, said when reached by telephone yesterday in Germany, where her son died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro, 28 was known as Alex. A reconnaissance Marine with numerous medals and commendations, he was wounded May 1 while involved in combat operations in Anbar province, according to the US Department of Defense. He was injured when the Humvee in which he was riding ran over an IED. He suffered burns over 60% of his body, his mother said. Carbonaro was on his second tour of duty in Iraq...

The couple wanted to raise children, travel and have "long Sunday dinners with their parents," his mother said...On Monday, Carbonaro's father warned neighbors that his son's condition had deteriorated, "Our pain is unbearable," he wrote. Two days later, he wrote again, "Our dearest son Alex passed away at 10:30 this morning." Carbonaro's father wrote that four people--he, Alex's mother, his wife and mother-in-law--were at this side. We held him in our arms until he exhaled his last breath."

Let us pray and hold in love this suffering family that comfort and healing may be theirs. Let us work for peace. Let us deepen our understanding of the Mystery of the God of death and life, creation and destruction.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Waiting and Waiting and....Home Walk(Run)!

First I want to give a very Special Thanks to Ms. Bird RN and Discharge Planner. She had been working diligently since Thursday when Ms. Butz, "Thank you" contacted Ms Bird to follow up on why the vac had not arrived. Ms. Bird assured me that the company which supplies the vac would have the equipment here at about 3:30, Walter Reed being the first stop for afternoon delivery.

I arrived at the hospital about 9 AM Jason was still sleeping. The environmental worker again came in to check out "empty trash cans." I met him at the door of the room and I said, "You cannot come in. The trash is empty." I shut the door. Within 10 minutes, another worker and the LT were knocking on Jason's door. "Mam, you cannot forbid staff from coming into the patient's room." That was my last straw, "Let us step out into the hall and talk." I was very angry, I should have addressed this sooner except I assumed, very incorrectly, that Jason would be released Wednesday,or Thursday, and now Friday. "Last weekend I complained about the overflow of trash in Jason's room, since then staff has continually over 5 times a shift come into the room, made noise crashed cans etc. I believe it is in retaliation for my complaint." The Lt. said, "I thought you were not letting ANY staff into the room." "No,(with a shocked look on my face) that is totally not true." The LT looked at me, "I understand and I WILL address the situation." We were not bothered again by environmental staff the rest of the day.

Jason woke about 11 and I read the headlines from the Washington Post to him. Jodi called and I headed downstairs for lunch while they had their telephone talk. As I was leaving I spied the Pet Therapy dogs and their owners coming for a visit. "Jason, want a visit?" He hung up on Jodi and visited with the dog. Jason and the owner of the Corgi had a good discussion and he enjoyed the pets' visit. I was so glad he got to see them as I don't think he will be back in the hospital for a visit. After I chatted with Laurie the coordinator and we talked about their making visits at Mologne House Hotel. She has wanted to do this but did not know a contact. I called her back with numbers at MHH later in the day.

After lunch Dr. G and entourage visited to change the sponge. I explained what I had heard from Ms. Bird. Dr. G said, "If the vac does not arrive today, we will go with wet to dry dressings. Jason will be released today." He was emphatic about that. After he changed the sponge and checked the wound, Dr G gave this summation "he is healing well, wound is smaller,"I had to laugh. Dr. G, this is deja vu, I have heard this before. He looked downcast. 'I don't mean this surgery. I mean very early on when you would clean the buttock wounds." (Jason had butt vacs for months!) Dr. G smiled, "Yes, Jason heals so well." I asked about the stoma wound. Dr G replied, "We won't stitch the stoma wound as I am "taking no chances" for reinfection." Jason was released to Mologne at about 4:30 with a scheduled check with Dr. G on Monday. The vac company had sent 5 boxes of supplies with the vac; I loaded a wheel chair with a box of each: containers for the pumped fluids and one of sponges. Ms. Bird graciously said she would store the extra in her office and if I would notify her when they are not needed, she would return to the company. The vac makes a soft "perking coffee" sound every 10 seconds or so. The man who delivered it said it was normal and Jason said he was not bothered by it. We will see if he can sleep to it.

As it was warm and sunny outside, Jason said he would like to walk to Mologne. The trip was a very slow one but Jason said, "It is so good to be out of the hospital." I heard, "I never want to go back" in his voice. May this be so. Jason layed down on the bed, covered up with his Bear's blanket and rested. I headed back to the hospital to get his prescription of percocet as I wanted him to have pain control meds if he needed. Jason was complaining that it really hurt because Dr. G "really dug around in the wound" as he was putting in the new sponge. I am sure he was checking for infection.

As I crossed the lobby on the second floor, for the first time since I arrived 7 months ago, soldiers were being transferred from the "ambulance bus" to gurneys. My heart stopped, I began to weep. I put my back to the wall of the lobby for strength. As Roman Catholic womanpriest; I prayed for each soldier, each suffering circle of family and friends, and for the staff of Walter Reed now accepting these beloved sons into its heart. Sophia, Healing Spirit of God filled my body with the shivers of Her Presence as I stood on this Holy Ground. I prayed for healing and the end to the Insanity of War.

I thought later, "Where are the chaplains?" as each soldiers' caravan arrives. There should be great Pray-ers filling this lobby with healing Presence on the arrival of each wounded soldier. Doesn't have to be interactive, needs to be a consecration to healing, a lifting up of the suffering. A ministry striving to transform despair to hope.

We watched some of "Super Size Me" about the junk food lifestyle of Americans. I asked Jason what he would like for dinner and he said, "Chinese" He had eaten no lunch so I was glad he had an appetite for food. Jason had Wonton soup and LoMein and I had fried rice. After Jason was ready to rest and watch TV and I headed to Code Pink's reception and fund raiser.

Codepink is an organization of women working for peace. They were in Baghdad before the war. They recently co-sponsored a month long tour of Iraqi women throughout the United States. (I attended Network evening and reported it on the blog). They will be presenting letters to Mrs. Bush requesting that she join in the work for peace as a mother. Codepink is sponsoring an all night vigil at Mrs. Bush's House starting at 3 PM today.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Waiting and Waiting and....Day Two

Today was another day of waiting for the wound vac to arrive. Jason was understandably frustrated. I arrived about 9 and discussed the situation with the RN, Ms Joyce. She said she would discuss with one of the discharge RN's whom she trusted. Ms Bird came down later in the day and said she had gotten the paperwork flowing. The control group is in Texas, so the paperwork must flow from WR started by MD then social worker then Texas then back to DC and the local DME to deliver. The local folks told Ms Bird they were all set to deliver, needed paperwork. From her presentation, she understood that nothing was done yesterday so I am not sure what has been going on. Talking to Dr. Ritchie later in the day when it still had not arrived he assured me that he would check into the situation on Friday if it has not showed up. So Lord have mercy, let the vac arrive on Friday. I can't imagine it showing up on the weekend.

Jason and I had a slow day. As usual he tried to sleep till around 11, then asked for a deli sandwich and a pretzel. Jason drank quite a bit of the OJ, they are now putting a 16 oz on each meal tray. He didn't want to take any pain meds, said it wasn't hurting that badly. Although when Jason walked he did mention the hurt. I reminded him about keeping the pain meds at an even amount in his blood. Again the environmental services was in and out all day, probably about 5 times during the day shift.

After lunch Jason had an interview with a Fox radio personality named Ingraham. She did a professional and quickly focused interview. She will send Jason a pod cast of the show when it is done. I will let you all know if Fox lets us know. I am assuming the show will air soon. She gave Jason a tee shirt with a "But" crossed out and a monkey swinging from the circle. Called a "But monkey" "I support the troops BUT...." was the statement she used to explain the logo to Jason. (I tactfully kept my mouth shut.) The PR staff from WR who escorted her for the interview in Jason's room was very pleased with Jason's responses to her questions. So am I. Jason is very intelligent and articulate and it shows in his answers. Don the PR staff said, "I wanted to bring her to someone who could handle her questions well." And Jason is his answer. Jason waved "Goodbye" and said, "Anytime."

We spent the afternoon watching Law and Order episodes. Also watched the program where an Ex thief breaks into a business than they go through what needs to be done to increase security. The thief comes back tries to break in again and couldn't. What was really cute about this show is that the thief stole the guard dog! He looked like a brindle pit bull but was really friendly! The thief also stole the owner's truck. One of the anti-theft devices was a machine high on the wall that filled the garage with "smoke/fog" so no one could see where he was going.

I went down and got Jason a soup-chicken rice and hamburger for dinner from the mess hall. We finished it off with Twix ice cream bar which Jason has come to really like. We watched the Simpsons together about the first kiss for Homer and his wife at camp. Then the rain which had been forecasted arrived with a vengeance. Jason said, "Take the van to Mologne mom." The man has really good ideas as I was dreading getting drenched during the 10 minute walk.

Stopped by to see Eric and his dad. Eric is having a home built by a group I have written about. Please check the website and see if you would like to donate to the building of Sgt Eric's home in NC. There is a checklist of items needed from foundation to roof. The architect added a room as Eric's dad will stay often to help with Eric's care.

While getting Jason's ice cream I met another dad named Art. His son has been at WR for 4 months and had been in ICU for 3 weeks on arrival. His mother in law collapsed when she heard the news. He said it is so difficult to be here. His younger son (18) will not leave his brother's side.

What do we learn from 2 days of waiting? Time is relative and stretches, it shrinks. May you use time well to experience deeply all of life, count your blessings, enjoy the moments of peace. Reach out to others in support. Please continue to pray for Jason's healing and that the wound stays infection free. Pray for healing for Jason and all the members of our family.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Waiting and Waiting and....

Jason spent the day waiting for his "portable" wound vacuum. When I left at 5:30 he was still waiting and the Doc who was visiting was saying, "All we need is the vac to be delivered." When I arrived back at the room at 9:30 Jason was not there so he decided to stay in the hospital even if he did get the vac late today. Jason was more awake today, still sleeping in at 11 AM. Jason says so many staff are in and out of his room, "I cannot sleep."

After receiving the news about Gilda and her son, I was "out of sorts" for the rest of the day. I attended my counseling session with Diann Neu of WATER and we spent a very long time in prayer for Gilda and crying together for the human suffering caused by war. We begged God to teach us the way to evolve beyond war as the answer. We asked for healing and reconciliation and understanding for ourselves and especially for Gilda.

When I returned to Jason's room he was being visited by another soldier from Ft. Stewart, a double leg amputee named Tan. He is being accompanied by his brother Darryl. Tan is one of the most outgoing young men I have ever met. He is from Philadelphia and said, "When I first arrived, I knew nothing. Now I like to share the info with other soldiers to make their stay easier." Tan visited with us for about an hour, sharing his experiences:
  • staying at the Hilton: Don't--no toilet paper, towels, refrigerators, paid parking.
  • Homesforsoldiers (I've written about this group). Tan will have a home built for him "need one for a wheelchair." They think he will have a home in about a year.
  • He loved WR hospital food! Especially salmon and chicken Caesar salad
  • Tan loves to be able to drive; didn't like the 2 day course the Army offers to be certified. Tan's car has been modified by the VA to have all controls on the steering wheel shaft. Tan said the first time he drove, he caught his prosthetic foot on the gas (remember no feelings) and didn't know what he was doing. He said, "I think I will take my leg off so that doesn't happen again."
  • Tan told us about his brother Darryl who has been so good with him and all the other patients at Mologne. Darryl is "borrowing my car all the time to take a soldier somewhere."
  • Tan asked "Where are the cute nurses like the movies?" Jason and he exchanged stories and comments.
Tan is always so upbeat he is great to have as a visitor. This time he was also filled with good info for Jason as he looks to completing his own stay at WR this summer.

As usual I attended liturgy at Quixote Center. Today we had wonderfully fresh corn and a vegetarian quiche. We prayed again for Gilda and her son. May you too have time for quiet, mediation, reflection, prayer. Our lives are so busy we need time to reflect on its meaning and our experiences of the joys and sorrows. Please continue to pray for Jason's healing of mind body and spirit.