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Top 7 Values I Learned From My WW II Father

vetMy father was 50 when I was born.  I am 49 and holding.  I was raised in the decadent 80s.  He was raised in the Depression and WWII.  He called the Beatles “that strange new band.”  He couldn’t figure out how to “work” my boom box, but it was always too loud.  He “listened” to the television.  He couldn’t deal with how our generation’s songs were “nonsense.”  And he always thought that we were under-whelmed, under involved, apathetic.  His family stood in line for bread.  They worked no matter what and were thankful for a job.  He raised me in one of the wealthiest places in the world, and always came home every night,  took a loop around our house, came in, wiped his leather winged tipped shoes off from his cross Loop commute from Chicago, and then to train to suburban Lake Forest, to our lovely home and said, “We are so lucky,” kissing my mom, carrying me up to his room where he changed, Mr. Rogers style, into his nighttime, still gentleman, clothes.  I wanted to be him.  I wanted that gratitude and grace.

He served in WWII.  He said things that felt old fashioned when I was a kid.  Now I understand them.

Dad:

Write when you get work.

This means:   Connect.  Connect with your loved ones.  Don’t lose the people who love you.  The responsibility is yours.  Take it.  Your loved ones want you to be happy out there.  And they also want to welcome you home.  Especially when you are home inside yourself.  P.s.  Read about the Heroes’ Journey!

Don’t you know there’s a war going on?

This means:  Be mindful. There’s a lot happening that you don’t understand.  Learn from it.  Don’t put your head in the sand.

See you in the funny papers.

This means:  Don’t forget to have some fun.  Life will always deal challenges.  Doesn’t meant you can’t laugh.  And…when you laugh…you invite people to meet you in humor.  There’s plenty of pain in this human existence.  So we might as well laugh.

Let’s rent a barn and put on a show.

This means:  Bring some beloved people along for the ride.  Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland would be a good place to start.

The problem with your generation is you haven’t had a proper war.

This means:  Care about the conflicts in your world.  Just care.  Do something about trying to resolve them.  Don’t be a victim.  Be a game changer.

Your three minutes are up.

This means:  Don’t squander your time having false communication.  (he had no understanding of the world of texts, FB messages, emails etc.  The 0perator came on after 3 minutes and you had to pay more or get off the phone.)  Make communication count.

Do you know how lucky we are?

This means:  well you fill in the blanks.  In his case it was this:  He came from a hard working mid-western family.  He found financial success.  He loved his family.  He loved his job.  He was grateful every day.  How can you find this too?  See above.

Thanks, Dad.  You taught me so much about how to be a good person, and serve, like you served.  Veteran’s day and much much more.  Love, Laura

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Veteran's Day

Give heart and funds to this dear cause.  Thanks to my friends and amazing human beings, Lee and Bob Woodruff. Please pass on this link! yrs. Laura

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A Robin in the Woodstove

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A Robin in the Woodstove by Laura A. Munson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all

–Emily Dickinson

March 18, 2003
I was standing in front of the television this morning, watching the footage of last night: 48 hours for Saddam and his sons to get out of Iraq…or we’re coming in…when my daughter started screaming. I ran into the kitchen. “What? What’s wrong?”
“There’s a robin stuck in the woodstove!”
“Finish your cereal or you’ll be late for school.”
“Aren’t you going to get it out of there?”
“No. It can find its way back up.”
She looked at me like she did not know me. “But they only came back just last week.”
Countdown Iraq. Fabric softening commercial. A police stand-off in Washington: some guy on a tractor swearing he has explosives. Ari Fleisher condescending to Campbell Brown— I can’t help but think: CJ, on ‘West Wing,’ is better. Breaking news: High alert: orange. No fly zone over Disneyworld. Why does that one anchorman always look like he’s smiling?
I switch to Martha Stewart. A homemade lemon honey pot: it’s a good thing. Back to CNN. I feel it is my duty to watch CNN.
The robin flutters in the ashes.
I’ve done this before. Twice. Just get a sheet and open the woodstove, hope that he flies in. But he’ll fight me. His heart will rapid-fire into my grip. I might hurt him. I might shy and let go too soon and then what will we do with a bird in the house?
He flings himself against the window of the woodstove.
“Mommy, do something!”
“He’ll be okay in there until Daddy comes home. It’s cold out today. It’s like his own private birdcage.”
Driving to school. NPR. Toni Blair calling for unity. The French saying they might be willing to help in the case of biological warfare. Kiss the kids. Get a glare from my daughter.
At the grocery store, I buy three bags of lentils. I am not necessarily a lentil person. But they keep. I run into a forest ranger friend and ask him to tell me, once and for all, why the Douglas fir is not a true fir.
“Because their cones point down. For the squirrels. Subalpine and Grand point up. For the birds.”
I put on my best Naturalist nod. I do not tell him I am holding a robin hostage in my woodstove.
“Are you going over to Freezeout Lake to see the Snow Geese migration like you always do?” he says.
I remember the 200,000 white birds I long for all winter, and forget to answer him.
When I get back, I realize I have left CNN on.
So, what do you think, Bird? Did you make a mistake? Having so much hope in us?
He flings himself into the glass, falls sideways in the ashes, then stands still in the grey cloud.
I run through the living room despite the drumming of breaking news, despite the ice cream in the bag, go to my office and shut the door.
He might die. I can’t handle it if he dies.
I go back to the kitchen, blare NPR so that it’s dueling CNN and I can’t hear anything except for drumming and British accents, and I quick, put away the groceries.
What the world needs now, is love sweet love…call your travel agent. I think it’s a cruise commercial, but I don’t look.
I make a b-line for my office again, but I catch the bird out of the corner of my eye and I see that its feathers are askew.
So I sit on the hearth: please go back up the pipe. Please.
He throws himself against the glass. He is all black. Maybe it’s a grackle, not a robin. Like that would be somehow more forgivable.
I can do this. I should do this. I can’t. I can’t hold all that hope in my hands.
With NPR and CNN booming, muffling the flutter of tiny wings, I run up to my bed. I pull up the covers. I will wait here until my husband comes home.
Maybe I am this much of a coward. Or maybe it’s that I can’t bear to watch those blackened footprints hopping off into the melting snow.

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