Monday, May 25, 2009

Remember How He Lived

So often over the past month people have dwelled on how Pokey died. Yes he died in combat serving this country. But in doing so they have forgotten how he lived.

Those who knew Pokey have only to take the time to remember who he was. His smile, his laughter, his bizarre sense of humor. But also that he was sensitive caring person who would stop and help the elderly man load his groceries. Who would make the bigger kids stop picking on the littler ones. He had a work ethic that few his age had. When there was a job to be done he pitched in and worked hard till it was done. Pokey hated being idle. He had to be doing something. either goofing off with his friends or volunteering to take on some chore just so he could be doing something. Some would have described him as hyperactive but he wasn't he was just a doer. He had to be doing something. I think it was because he was quite intelligent. Pokey savored life. He valued it in a way not many his age do. Oh he had moments or sadness like we all do but he never allowed those moments to consume him.

When I think of Pokey or others who have given their lives in service of this country I try to think of how they lived. I like to hear the stories of how these young men and women lived their lives. What made them smile, what made them mad. Who they were and how they touched the lives of people around them.

It is a wonderful thing to know their names and remember thier sacrfice. But it is a better thing to remember how they lived and let that inspire you.

Pokey lived with honor, courage, and hunger for knowledge and laughter.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day

To far too many Americans Memorial day means a long weekend, BBQs, sales and lazy fun days with the family. Somewhere along the line we forget the reasons we can have all those things. We forget to stop one for just one day and do what we should do every day.... Remember those who laid down their lives to insure our freedoms. We hear often the phrase "freedom is not free" but I think all too often we only hear the words and not the meaning of those words. We take for granted the men who were willing to give their todays for our tomorrows. Men who know and believed there are things in life worth fighting and dying for. Values that a price can not placed on. Their blood spilled and now nurtures the roots of this Nation.

These men and women, who serve our Nation in the military, do not know me personally or you personally yet they put their lives on the line daily to protect our rights and freedoms. Stop and think about that.. be humbled that perfect strangers are willing to do this for you. Perfect Strangers died for your freedoms. And the only payment they would ask is that we remember them.

I ask each of you who reads this to please take the time to attend a Memorial Day service or to look up the names of those who have fallen and read about the men and women who gave theirs live. Remember them this weekend... be grateful and be humbled that there are people in this world who were and are willing to pay the price of freedom. Place a flag out to remind others. Teach your children and grandchildren the history of their freedoms and about the men and women who gave it to them. But most of all... Remember

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Pokey......

May 17th 1988 at about 3 am Micheal Eugene Phillips was born... he looked exactly like his father. He was promptly dubbed 'Pete" by his Grandma Barb. He would remain "Pete" until he was 3 yrs old. He came into the world quietly. He didn't cry, he just wanted to sleep. His quietness would not last long.. he made a very loud and lasting impression on every one who had the honor of having him touch their life.

From the time he could talk he showed a love of airplanes. He could spot them when they were just specks in the sky. He could also spot a Wendy's from a mile off in the dark. LOL Pokey loved aircraft. Especially military aircrafts. By the time he was 12 he could tell you what it was and the history of any military aircraft that ever flew. When Micheal was interested in something he became obsessed and learned all there was to know about it. History was his next love. He could not read enough of it. Not just the US side of history either. He read Russian, German, Japanese history also.

One of my favorite little kid memories of Micheal was when he was about 3. He came in from outside and ask if he could play with his tonka trucks in the dirt. I didn't think anything of it. Boys are suppose to play with their trucks in the dirt so I said yes. I didn't know the neighbor had left their hose running and the dirt was mud..lots of mud. A few minutes later I went to check on him and he was covered head to toe in this mud. He stopped and look like he was gonna get in trouble. But he instant brightened when I laughed and asked if he was having fun. "Yes mama".. he played in that mud for the next 2 hours. As happy and content as a kid can be. I remember thinking this was a moment that I wanted to never forget...and I haven't.

Micheal was the kind of person who hated bullies and it drove him nuts to see someone excluded unless they had treated people badly and deserved to be. So the new kid in school usually got taken under his wing and introduced to his friends. And Pokey had many friends. From every high school clique you can think of. He hung out with the football players, the "wrecking crew", the band geeks and the garage band crowds. Mostly though he hung out with the skateboarders. Cody in particular. I always blamed Cody for their escapades and Cody's mom always blame Pokey. Basically they were both very creative, shall we say, and fearless kids but didn't always think beyond the initial plan. The both join the military after graduation. Cody joined the Navy and is in Iraq right now. He volunteered... he said he owed it to Pokey. Another one of Micheal's inseparable friends was Mike. Mike was a year ahead of Micheal and had been in the Army for almost a year when Micheal left for boot camp. Mike is like a son to me. He is getting married in a few days. Now Mike and Micheal did their fair share of mischief too. There was no way you could be in the room with these boys and not have tears streaming from the laughter. They would make complete fools of themselves for a laugh. Micheal carried that talent to the Army. His men all independently have told me he would say or do just the right thing to make you laugh no matter how shitty the situation. He received a Distinguished Member of Regiment award for his ability to keep Morale up. I guess what I am trying to tell everyone is Micheal was a smile maker.

When I think about about Micheal and pull the memories out I just don't know which ones to share. There are so many. I remember him shooting bb guns at his grandpa's house when he was 8 or 9. Or him lining hot wheel cars up in perfect rows when he was a toddler. I remember the high school kid who was mad as heck he had to go to wal mart with Mom and Dad cause he got in trouble and I made him be my best friend and go every where I went. Arms crossed and head down pouting mad.. till his Dad grabs one of those fake fur rugs swung it around his shoulder yelled Captain Fur Cape and ran down the aisle.. sudden Pokey was laughing so hard he couldn't catch his breath. I know darn well the next time he went to wal mart with his friends he did the same thing. I remember the adult man who came home on leave and took my brand new car in the middle of the night to Dallas and called at 4 am because he was lost....I was furious. Not only that he took my car but that he called when there was GPS built into the dash. I remember being so mad at him till he put his head on my shoulder the next day and said " Are you mad mommy? don't be mad mommy" that look and that voice.. I couldn't stay mad. I remember the little boy who would crawl up in my lap and turn the pages to Mercer Meyers "All By Myself" book.

I remember the day he was born. The day we brought him home. The joy and love he brought to us. I remember how proud I was of him on the first day of school. So many smiles. So much love and laughter this one person brought to so many. For Micheal, life was a celebration. Today is his birthday.. He would have been 21. Old enough to finally drink a beer legally. Funny he was old enough to go to war but not drink a beer. So tonight I will go downtown and meet with others who knew and loved him. One of the local bar owners is opening up just for us and we will share our stories of how Pokey made us smile and laugh. We will celebrate him and how he touched so many lives. On this day I have made the choice to celebrate my son and his life...tomorrow I will go back to mourning him.

The funny thing about the last picture is his grandfather had absolutely no idea Pokey was behind him and we were all laughing and my dad had no idea why....

Friday, May 15, 2009


May is probably the hardest month of the year for me. most people think it would be February the month we lost Micheal but May holds so many reminders for me that is it like a constant scratching at the scars. And I know I am truly not myself during May. With Mother's day, armed forces day, Micheal's Birthday, and memorial day all one weekend after the next it is just plain difficult. add to that May was the month Micheal was scheduled to come home on leave. We had a lot of plans for those 14 days. His brother's State Track meet, graduation, his birthday. So many things that were just left undone or partly done. Yes his brother ran the state meet but his heart wasn't in it. And yes his brother graduated. But there was no birthday party, no hugs, no celebration with Micheal.

This is the second May I have had to get through and it is harder in some ways than last year. I not as as numb I guess and in some ways more alone. I know now that the people I thought were just scared to call last year really just don't care. Others have stepped back from me this year. I can't blame them. It's hard dealing with the overly sensitive over reactive scary lady. What really hurts is that I know I have been acting completely out of character but they just stepped back instead of seeing now more than ever I needed them. Even if I am yelling and pushing them away...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day

This is the second Mother's day I will face without Micheal. I was warned by a very kind and loving woman last year how hard it would be. She too had lost her son but to a drunk driver. So last year I was prepared. I suppose I am again this year.

Last year, a few days before Mother's Day a delivery truck pulled up and I received a bouquet of Lilies. The card "From Your Boys in Company B" My son's brothers who I had not yet met had remembered me. It made the day easier. It is one of my most cherished mother's day gifts. Not the flowers... but that these men in a combat zone had taken the time to remember me. This year my phone is all ready buzzing with text messages. And pans for visits in a couple of weeks.

I have every homemade card and gift my kids ever made put away. I remember the text message from my son David last year (He was in his bedroom and I was in the kitchen) telling me he loved me and he would wash my car. Seems unusual but David does not show emotion so it was so very him to do it that way. It made me happier than if he had spent a $1000 on a gift.

My youngest made me a birdhouse at school this year. I will hang it on the porch in the morning and look at it daily when I go out to drink my morning coffee on the porch.

My daughter... she will make her famous chocolate chip pancakes.. I don't have the heart to tell her I hate pancakes. and I will end up cleaning the kitchen up afterwards. LOL and Tomorrow night we go watch her choir concert and I get to sit in the audience and be proud of her. She has an amazing voice...she didn't get it from me.

Tomorrow is Mother's day. I will try and pretend it is just another day for the most part. But I know I will get hugs and Happy Mother's Day from my kids. Only Micheal's will be missing. And I will pull out the box when I am alone and go through all the cards and gifts from past mother's days that he made me. I will dust his table and maybe get the nerve up to go out to the cemetery. By the end of the day I will be emotionally and mentally preparing for next Sunday... It would have been Micheal's 21st birthday.

Funny at the one year mark people told me I had faced all the first and I had for the most part. But I think the seconds are a little harder. I'm not as numb now. And no matter how long it is...there will be firsts that Micheal should be here for that he won't be.

Yep.. tonight I am feeling sorry for myself. Just a little. I get to do that a few times a year....