Keeping it real and Keeping it positive.

Lots of Coffee and Lots of Conversation.

Today was a great day. I spent the day, literally all of it, with one of my dearest friends, Deborah. Deborah and I met in the 80’s at Fort Bragg. We were friends, but with our busy lives of raising young children, working full-time and keeping up with Army life we didn’t have much time to hang out, but right away we knew that we would be friends.

We both left Fort Bragg and lost touch. Oh those days before email and Facebook! We both moved a lot in the next few years. We went to Norfolk and then Tampa and after 3 and a half years we found out we were going to Hinesville, GA!!! I wasn’t a happy camper as I love CITIES and by anyone’s description Hinesville wasn’t a CITY and even the name wasn’t appealing. I was sure that I knew no one at Fort Stewart, GA. Shoot, I’d never even heard of Fort Stewart, GA!. I went kicking and screaming and am sure I left claw marks on the Florida State Line as we crossed into GA! We moved into our rental house and Barry started his new job. I went exploring. Not much to explore, but I went anyway and discovered a cute little gift/frame shop so thought I’d check it out. I walked in and there was my friend Deborah!!! I am sure I screamed and scared her to death. We had found each other again and this time a ‘real’ friendship developed.

A few months after we arrived at Fort Stewart our lives changed as our Division left for Desert Shield which was to become Desert Storm. All of us, except a very few very senior folks on post were post Vietnam and so this was the first time we had experienced a long deployment. Barry had been to Grenada in 1983 along with a few others, but that was not a long deployment.

During the 8 plus months our Division’s soldiers were gone Deborah and I spent time or at the very least talked on the phone pretty much every day. We both were night owls and often would begin a phone conversation after 11 PM and end hours later. We talked about anything and everything and just always connected. She was my best friend. She was always there for me, always wise and always trustworthy. I could tell her my deepest secrets and knew they were safe. She defined a true friend.

Deborah is the one who called me from a meeting to let me know she just found out Barry was on a plane returning from the Desert. Her words went something like this at 11PM when she called…’Barbara, Barry’s on a plane and will land in several hours. Get that house cleaned.” To which I replied..’Get over here and help me’. Which she did!!!

Not long after Barry returned our time at Stewart ended and we moved on to Fort Bliss for BN Command. In a time with no cell phone, internet or email and the mobility of our military lives we lost touch a bit, but it didn’t matter. I knew Deborah was my life long friend.

Eight years later Barry and I moved to DC from Tampa and guess what? My friend Deborah was here in DC. It was as if we had never been apart. Right away she was there for me…showing me the ropes, introducing me to new friends and once again I was so happy to be back with my dear friend Deborah!

Our lives cross here in DC for just a few months and she and her family moved to Fort Benning and we stayed in DC. Now at least there was email and we were able to stay connected more than before. We were able to see each other a few times between her move to Benning and today, but it has only been a few times.

Last week Deborah Facebook messaged me and said she was coming to DC for a week to hang out with her daughter and hoped we could spend some time together. I was SO EXCITED. I insisted we spend a whole day together so we could catch up. Today was that day! We talked and talked and talked. We share deep, Deborah and I. There are no topics off-limits because we are ‘safe’ with each other. No judgement, no criticism, just real, honest friendship.

It’s hard to explain how much today meant to me. I have many friends and each one makes me a better person. I learn from each one and hope I give something back, but Deborah is special. I can’t really explain it, it just IS!

As I look back I remember the years we have been friends….almost 30 to be exact. We’ve share many experiences together. Some made us laugh and some made us cry, but all made us better. As I look back I know that God put Deborah in my life to make me a better person and to teach me things I needed to learn and give me insights I needed to have.

As I look forward I know that Deborah will always be a part of who I am. She and I will always be there for each other regardless of the fact she lives in Florida and I live in VA.

As I look forward I commit to make time to talk to Deborah more on the phone and to make sure we keep current in each other’s lives.

I realized today, again, now much I value friendship. How the love of a faithful friend is of the highest value. I realized how two people, like Deborah and I, who grew up in very different worlds can find so much common ground and be so much alike on so many levels.

I am so grateful for today. I’m so grateful that it was spent drinking lots of coffee and talking non stop about things that matter. I am most blessed! Thank you, Deborah, for being my Forever Friend! The only regret I have is that I didn’t take a picture today!


Bill and Marg..A Love Story.

February 10th is a day of many conflicting emotions for me and my siblings. Allow me to share.

February 10th, 1924 in Hamilton, Ontario Canada, Margaret McKillop Scott Martin was born to Scottish immigrant parents. She was the firstborn of two daughters and grew up in a loving home. There were hard times as the Great Depression hit and life was difficult for everyone. Margaret had a sweet spirit and a winning smile.

Sometime in the early 1940’s she met Bill Fishback. Bill was a bit of a renegade…in a good way! He loved life, had lots of energy and feel deeply love with the rather sheltered, shy, Margaret. They became engaged in 1944, but Bill’s mother was insistent that they not marry until they had a HOUSE, and she preferred it be next to HERS! :-). Margaret worked a the Bank and Bill worked at the Hygrade Paper factory. They saved and worked hard and built that house.

Mark 16th, 1949 they married in Margaret’s home, and for the next 55 years their love story took many twists and turns, ups and downs, but they remained deeply in love and committed to each other.

Margaret had Alzheimer’s and it advanced quickly while she was only in her 60’s. Bill never left her side. Even when she had to move to a lovely nursing home where she could get the care she needed he drove there and ate meals with her and always, always believed that she ‘knew him’ right up to the end. Because she had this dreaded disease early in her life and because she had a strong, Scottish heart that kept beating, the Alzheimer’s advanced to all if it’s horrific stages before finally taking her life on June 21st, 2004. Even at the end Bill was there and his love remained steadfast and strong.

Bill loved their home ‘up north’ in Ontario. They had retired there and made a great life for themselves in this small cottage community. Bill bravely went on and kept himself as busy as always with mowing grass and ploughing snow for the neighbors. He wasn’t one to complain but ALWAYS saw the silver lining…but his health was starting to fail and he had to move to Toronto to receive treatment for his mobility caused by his diabetes.

He moved in with Jan and Rome and enjoyed time with his kids and grandkids. He wasn’t able to drive anymore but never the less he kept busy helping around the house and always, always sharing stories and drinking lots and lots of coffee. Everyone LOVED Bill. He had many names to those of us who loved him.

My sister and brother and I called him Dad or Daddy….even our spouses called him Dad as he truly was a second father to Barry and Rome. Our children called him Grandpa Bill. His mother used to call him Billy!

February 10th, 2006 started out as a normal enough day. Daddy had a doctor’s appointment and my sister, Jan took him there. The doctor gave him a good report…all seemed normal and he was progressing well.

They stopped at McDonalds on the way home. Jan said that he talked a lot about mom that day as it was her birthday. He missed her terribly. I’m sure they shared some great memories over a Big Mac!

Daddy called her late that afternoon to say he was fixing them some dinner. He did love to cook. Again he mentioned missing mom. He always called her MOM when referring to her to us.

Rome and Jan returned home that evening from work and when Rome went down to check on Daddy he was gone. It appeared he had had a heart attack and was on the floor by the stove where he was, even at the end of his life, serving others.

As with everyone who loses a parent it’s more than we can bear. We think of what our last words were. We wondered if we could have done something more  or said something more and all of those thoughts crowd into our brains.

Then as the years pass the pain of those moments seem to be pushed to the background and we focus more on the good memories. The smiles, the laughter, the hugs, the holidays shared.

Today as I remember in a special way both my mom Margaret and my dad Bill I want to hold tight to the good times. The difficult times shaped us all to be the people we are today, but as I look BACKWARDS..this I know for SURE.

My parents loved each other in a way we rarely see today.

My parents loved their three children with complete, unconditional love and acceptance and that gift is a treasure.

My parents adored their grandchildren and not only told them, but anyone who would listen!

My parents are together now and I imagine are enjoying Mom’s birthday with an angel choir..as she did love to sing!

As I look FORWARD I want to take the good lessons from my parents and repeat them in my life.

I want to serve others with a happy heart like my dad always did.

I want to remember ‘occasions’ with cards and notes and parties like my mother always did.

I want to continue to believe in my children and grandchildren that they can change the world into a better place, like my parents believed about us and our kids.

and…like my mom..I want to keep taking pictures so I also have these memories to pass on to my kids and grandkids.

Rest In Peace Mom and Dad and always know that when I think of you…I SMILE!




Rest In Peace, my Friend….

Yesterday when I wrote the entry about the Batesville Casket Company and that somewhere, someone would be sitting and making a decision on such things, I had no idea it would be for one of my dearest friends, Barb Inch.

Barb was just in her late 40’s in November 2010 she felt a lump in her breast. She had just run the Marine Corps Marathon here in DC. She’s that kind of person…she can do anything. She thought maybe it was nothing to worry about but she and Mark decided to ‘get it checked’ and it was cancer…very serious, aggressive cancer!

That began her 15 month journey with cancer. They were living here at the time and as I said are like family. Mark has been in our families lives for over 30 years. He had just finished his freshman year in college when he came to Panama to work with me as a Youth intern at our Army Chapel. Our kids call him Uncle Mark. Barry even commissioned him as a 2LT. When he and Barb married we all were moving around the Army, so we didn’t meet her until they were at West Point and we were at Carlisle in the early 90’s but we knew we would be great friends.

They eventually got stationed in DC around 2002 I think and by then had 4 kids. All 6 of them camped out at our townhouse for about a month and then moved in around the corner! We played endless games of Phase Ten, made tons of pots of chili and laughed so hard our stomachs ached. We WERE family.

Eventually they returned to DC..first Mark then Barb the fall of 2010. Mark had been deployed a LOT and for LONG stretches, so now they were together. The cancer came as they were still unpacking boxes in their rental house.

I watched Barb and Mark as they fought this curse! I watched how she faced it with honestly and integrity.

We had long talks and cried many tears…but we also laughed as she donned a pink wig and was determined to LIVE..and LIVE she did! She became an advocate for being positive, being prayerful and staying active. She didn’t let the cancer control her. She LIVED.

Mark was promoted to Brigadier General and that meant a move.. right in the middle of her treatment..but SHE LIVED. She packed up and moved to Fort Leonard Wood. We flew out for Mark’s promotion and spend three great days laughing, and LIVING.

It wasn’t long after that she got the bad news that the cancer had spread. This is never good, but she fought on..doing more chemo and being her gracious, hospitable self. She didn’t let CANCER DEFINE her…

They were waiting on a trial to open up for her to be part of…..

Friday, January 27th I was on Facebook and noticed Mark on too so we ‘chatted’ a bit. He shared that they were busy preparing for their New Year’s Reception for the next day. ( a military tradition ) It would be at their home, of course…and he said Barb was good…just still waiting on the trial to open up for more treatment, but doing chemo in the meantime. The girls were home on winter break…

Last night, Feb 1st, we found out she had passed. She was put in the hospital for pneumonia…likely the cancer had gone from the breast to the lungs..and she could no longer fight it.

As I LOOK BACK I am so blessed to have memories and many many pictures of Barb as a friend, a wife and a mother. I treasure those visual memories of her and they bring me much comfort today.

As I LOOK FORWARD I know that the pain and tears of today will be replaced by the pure JOY of knowing Barb.

For today I reflect on what I can learn ….and putting it in writing helps….

I can REJOICE that even when I do NOT understand why God doesn’t always intervene and cure disease when we bombard heaven with our prayers, that I can BELIEVE..He is GOD and we are NOT and I BELIEVE that Barb is in Heaven and has peace now, and I BELIEVE that I will see her again.

I am determined to live my life in a way that also brings JOY like Barb always did…to be gentle spirited, kind, hospitable and always SMILE.

I continue to learn to never, ever take people or life for granted. To hug,laugh and TELL PEOPLE that I love them. So often I find I focus on such silly things…but I’m learning and I will continue to learn….

I keep my resolve to keep taking pictures…today and for years to come I can look back and SEE Barb’s face in so many pictures.

And most of all I LEARNED that Barb Inch has left a heart print on my life and I am so very, very grateful that she came my way…..

Rest in Peace, my dear friend…see you later…..



Batesville Casket Company

Now I have your attention!

Today I was driving to get the oil changed on our car. As I turned onto the main street there coming toward the stop light was a truck with the words..Batesville Casket Company. For about 99.9% of those seeing that truck it would mean nothing..at least nothing personal, but to me it brought a big smile to my face. BATESVILLE CASKET COMPANY, I repeated to myself ,with a big smile on my face!

You see my husband and the person who means the most to me in my life..was BORN in Batesville, Indiana…HOME of the Batesville Casket Company! We used to tease him about it. Being BORN in a town that is known for caskets. But today it made me think about such things.

It made me think about how life and death are just a heart  beat away from each other.

It made me think that people born in Batesville, Indiana may someday be buried in a casket manufactured in their hometown.

It made me think about LIFE and DEATH…about how fleeting LIFE is and how REAL death is.

It made me think about my FAITH. How I believe in God and that I believe that because I’ve made a commitment to Jesus Christ as my personal Savior that, because of what HE DID I will pass from LIFE through DEATH to LIFE.

It made me think of those who have died that I MISS so much..so much…my grandparents, my parents, my aunts and uncles, my friends who have passed from this life to the next.

It made me think of friends who are dealing with cancer and war wounds and serious illness and that always, always humbles me as I watch them deal with LIFE…cherish LIFE…appreciate LIFE. I need to do that more.

It made me think about driving on to Fort Myer at least once if not more times a week and looking across at Arlington National Cemetery and giving thanks for those buried there who gave their lives for our freedoms. I wish I could thank them all in person, so I try to thank service men and women and their families who I know and who I don’t know.

Batesville Casket Company, Batesville, Indiana. I wonder where that truck was going? I wonder who will have to sit in a funeral home and select a Batesville Casket from a brochure to lay their loved one to rest? I wonder a lot…..about many things.

July 30th, 2010 a little boy was born in the Batesville Hospital..Benjamin! Benjamin is the son of friends of ours. Our kids used to babysit Benjamin’s mom and her sisters.

July 30th, 1950 another little boy was born in Batesville Hospital and he grew up to be the man of my dreams and has made all of them come true. So perhaps Batesville is known for the Batesville Casket Company to most folks, but to me, it’s know for the birth place of my wonderful husband!!!!

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