A few words on families

Thursday, October 2, 2003

Brad finally had the opportunity to get back at me when Michelle Walkenshaw-Herrera graciously handed over the dunking balls Saturday at the Heritage Days dunking booth.

I guess he wasn't as upset with me as I suspected, since it took him six throws to finally get me into the water.

Of course, now that he's had the opportunity to take out his frustrations once, it seems he thinks he can continue with his new-found independence.

We were sitting with a friend at a local establishment the other night when he looked across the table and informed me -- in no uncertain terms -- "You need to do something about your roots."

It didn't take me long to recover from the statement and quickly reply "Why? Are you feeling threatened? My intelligence is starting to show, isn't it?"

I was visiting with my mom the other day and she told me my son, Shane, had called to tell her he was re-enlisting in the U.S. Coast Guard -- not for the two years he had previously told me about, but for six years -- six very long years.

Don't get me wrong. I'm really proud of him, and I certainly think he's making the right decision, but SIX YEARS?

I was telling some co-workers about the news and tried explaining to them there's nothing wrong with him serving his country another six years, but California is nearly half a world away.

"No," said co-worker Bill. "California's in another universe.

The last time I heard from Shane it was to tell me that he was bringing back a busload of Californians to let me know what they thought of being called clowns. I asked him how big of a bus he needed and whether I could help in getting it chartered.

On a more serious note, I stopped in Cambridge earlier this week to visit with a young man who was back on leave from Iraq.

Spc. Ryan Nickerson, received a 15-day leave to come back and spend some time with his family and friends. Ryan's mom, Beth, sat in on the interview and it made me realize that not only do these young soldiers deserve our support and our prayers, but their families should also be remembered every day.

It can't be an easy task to send your child to a far away country.

While I was in Cambridge, I stopped to visit the grave of my sister who died of breast cancer Sept. 28, 1997. When we took her to her final resting place, her's was the only grave in the newly developed part of the cemetery. Today her grave lays among many. Her headstone is a simple piece of granite with the words "Our Star" carved on the back and the briefest description of her life. "Linda Banzhaf Thompson," it reads. "June 11, 1958 -- September 28, 1996. Thank you for all your love." The grave is always decorated with flowers of the season by my loving parents.

Even after six years the tears start to flow as I think of the influence she had on my life. Her life was my inspiration and the last oath she asked me to take is what has brought me to where I am today.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I encourage women of all ages to go to their doctors, conduct monthly breast self-exams and educate themselves on the risks of breast cancer. It can happen to anyone. It happened to Linda. She was 38.

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