The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

through a loving story of a friendship between a newly wounded soldier

and Rocky the squirrel with his backyard friends. This story began as a

blog during my first year in bed after my incident. With much

encouragement, it is now a book and has been placed in the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

on the About page to learn for the Soldier & Rocky are changing children's






Glorious Rejoice Dots Glitter





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The Cane

My oldest daughter, Macky, posted a photo yesterday on Facebook. It was of just the two of us, with one particular addition - my cane. My hand covered its handle that was shaped like a duck's head. My fingers wrapped around its beak. It was Easter, so the duck handle seemed appropriate. Even though it should have been a duckling, which is akin to a chick. The kids had just finished their egg hunt. Don and I watched as they ran, dodged il-timed sprinklers, and fended off the dogs who though it was a game of tag. With eggs.

Once the hunt was over, I asked the kids to get together real quick for "one shot". My current disability comes with this blessing for them. Because nowadays I can only take one, or I'll feel like falling over, into il-timed sprinkler heads. I no longer carry the big camera and they are secretly grateful. There's a lot of pressure that comes with being in front of a big camera. Now they stand comfortably in their silliness front of my iPhone. They understand the iPhone.

It's not often we have all of our children in one place. So when it happens, the documentarian in me is unleashed. Once a documentarian always a documentarian. Until you are an octogenarian, like me. Oh I know, I'm only 42. But my scaffolding is 84. Which is why I have a cane, with a duck head on it. That should be a chick.

The children dispersed after our quick shot, and Macky asked if she could have a photo. With just me. She will be 19 this weekend. Which means I gave birth to her 19 years ago. I was in 19 hours of labor. Which seemed like a year. So for 20 years, I have been doing this mom thing. And I did it four times. OK, I've done it more than four times. But there were four times that I got it right.

You'd think I'd feel pretty confident with it all, after 20 years. Like photography; I became so comfortable at it, so confident, that things went darned well for being in a pretty competitive field. Kind of like being a mom. It's competitive out there. Blood is spilled. I wonder at moms with children in perfectly coordinated outfits, their hair in slick braids. I'm just happy when my kids aren't the ones with lice that year. Some kids wear new shoes all the time. Mine wear their Sketchers until the playground is sketched into their soles. It's a war out there, I just have chosen to pick my battles. Like telling Macky at age five that it's not okay to go to school with avocados in her shirt.

Macky has been a dichotomy her whole life, living on stage, but never wanted her picture taken at home. So when she asked to have a picture with just the two of us, my heart swelled.

We stood, leaning into one another. I forgot I had the cane. In that moment, it became my own imperfectly- coordinated outfit. My adult daughter, actually asked for a picture with just me. My daughter that had suddenly realized - there might be a day when she will wish she had a photo - of just us. This was not just a photo about us. It was a documentation of the moment when the line between mother and daughter became blurred. I was not just her mother, but her friend. She was no longer a little girl, but an adult who had realized  that life is fragile, and fleeting moments are all too often taken for granted. Like this one.

We looked at the photo on the screen of my phone. I noticed the wrinkles in my chest as I held her closely into my body. The scar on my neck from one of my surgeries was still there. And the cane. And then I noticed something else. My daughter's arms around me, holding me up. The tables had turned. And it was perfect.

In spite of mis-matched socks and crooked parts, my children have turned into everything I had hoped, in spite of my battles. When I look at this photo of my first-born, with her arms around my waist, I know deep in my heart that whatever I was able to do as a mother, although it may not have been perfect, was enough.

Because of my children, I love stronger than I could have ever dreamed. I probably worry more than I  should. I carry their burdens they will never remember. And I will never stop. Because that's what a mother does, when all that matters is how beautiful it is when your child turns to you, and wishes she could carry life's burden. For you. Which she did. As we stood together, with her hand around my waist, and my hand on my cane. It was a moment. It was fleeting. But above all, it was perfect.


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