Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gratitude Challenge ~ Day 11

Today is a special day, and I as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am so grateful for our Veterans and their families.  On Election Day I posted about my gratitude for America and the great freedoms that these brave men and women vowed to protect for us.  I won't cheat and reuse those topics, but I am spending this day reflecting on them.  The boys and I will be bringing some things by to the Veterans Hall later today to show our thanks.

Instead, I will share how I am thankful today for my older brother.  We are just over a year apart in age.  Growing up, I thought he was the most wonderful person on the planet.  Looking back, I was quite a little pest to him and his friends.  I was always hanging around, probably making a fool of myself.  Luckily, he has always been a good and gracious person.  He tolerated me in spite of myself.

As a Senior in High School, he was accepted to the United States Coast Guard Academy.  This is not an easy feat to accomplish.  It is a small school, and there is a very stringent selection process.   Of course, I was proud, but I was also devastated.   The day after his graduation he was packing a bag and heading off to a military academy.  We drove him there, and he was quickly whisked away.  We didn't see him until later that day.  When we did, it was a shock.  His beautiful 1980's hair was shaved, he was in his uniform, and marching in formation.  I don't think I can describe how I felt.  If I could put proud, sad, impressed, lonely, nervous, elated, and another big heap of proud together in a blender, and mix it all together, I guess that would be it.  It came out as tears.  Lots of tears.

I couldn't see him, or talk to him, for most of that summer.  They call it "swab summer".  It's very rigorous on the cadets - and I think that is putting it mildly.   I wrote him a letter every day.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I would put funny things in the envelopes to make him laugh, and I wrote about things that probably were of no interest to him at all, but I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote.  It's hard to imagine how much I treasured any communication with him.   Now that we have email, IMs, Skype, blogs, cellphones, text messages, etc.  it's a rather distant memory.  When he could finally call home on a weekly basis, it was still in the dark ages of those previously mentioned 1980's.   We had to worry about long distance charges.   That was a pretty big deal back then.  There weren't any unlimited minutes plans, and we weren't exactly rolling around in money.  My parents would get he bulk of the phone time, and I would get about two minutes to talk - so, I kept writing those letters.

Four years later, he graduated from the Academy and began serving his time in the Coast Guard.  He also began moving around the country.  A lot.  He was accepted into flight school a few years later.  More moving.   When he left the Coast Guard, he became a pilot for an airline.  He moved some more.  So, since High School, we only see each other a few times a year.  When I do see him, it is definitely a cause for great happiness and celebration.  I still look up to him the way I did as a child.  He is responsible, smart, funny, temperate, and understanding.  He married a wonderful woman, and they have two children.  His son is now attending that very same Coast Guard Academy, and we are so proud of him!  His daughter is only a year younger than her brother, and they are very close.  When I saw the pictures from my nephew's first day at the Academy, and the tears in my niece's eyes, I understood completely.  (you can see a picture of the two of them together in my post from Monday)

Thank you God, for such an awesome big brother!

Are you feeling grateful today? Add your own post, or read the others over at Brenda's Blog, Garden of Learning.