Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Thank You Soldiers"

When I was 18, I went to the Pearl Harbor Memorial with my Dad in Hawaii. I remember watching a black and white video of boys who were my age, soldiers who lost their lives fighting for mine. The movie was unarguably impactful, but seeing that movie wasn’t what taught me the most about veterans. It was watching my dad watch the movie. Tears streamed down his cheeks at that time and again later when he stood reverently at the memorial. His respect taught me their sacrifice.

I ...had the opportunity this Veterans Day to attend Valley View Elementary School’s play titled, “The Candy Bomber.” The play centers around Gail Halvorson, the American soldier who dropped candy, tied to parachutes, from his airplane to the children of West Berlin during World War II.
I was not prepared for the emotion the play brought to my heart as it did to all those in attendance. The story of Gail Halvorsen is wonderful, but this was more than that. It was seeing children under the age of 11 understanding, watching and acting out what it means to be free and what one person can do to change the course of history.

There were veterans in attendance at the play. At one point the cast sang the song, “Thank you soldiers” to those veterans. One was a 95-year-old man and one of six brothers to serve during World War II. Four of his brothers returned; one did not. Neither I nor others could stop the tears rolling down our cheeks when during the chorus of that particular song, the entire student body of grade school children joined in singing with the cast.

I am so grateful to those who take the time to teach my children the importance of Veterans Day and other holidays that honor our soldiers.

It was the perfect way to celebrate Veterans Day with the best yet to come. At the close of school, Valley View Elementary had a mock fire drill. The children went outside to the upper field where they lined up. Suddenly, the sound of a helicopter was heard and the children looked to the sky. It hovered just above the field. The children’s confused faces changed to huge grins as parachutes started to fall from the sky. Shouts and laughter erupted as the children spontaneously ran to the center of the field, their hands held high above their heads. Some of them sang the words “drop it here, drop it here” from one of their play’s songs “Dear Chocolate Pilot.” Once again the emotion welled inside me as I imagined this same scene playing out some 70 years previously to the very children these kids had just portrayed.

And like my own father had once done while I stood by his side watching, I stood holding the hand of my son with a smile on my face, tears in my eyes and a reverence in my heart for those veterans whose selflessness and kindness ended a war and bought our freedom.

Thank you.



Monday, November 3, 2014

KSL article about my cousin Mike Frame, his late wife Lisa and their son Matthew

Shutterstock

'Matthew's Song' a powerful reminder of a mother's love

By Kate Rose Lee, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Nov 2nd, 2014 @ 8:52pm

My grandmother was in her eighties when she passed away, an age that is “acceptable” for ones passing. Yet, when they closed her coffin, a gasp and then a loud wail filled the room. It had come from her daughter — my mother. Instantly the eyes of all the women in the room filled with tears and silent understanding.
As a mother myself, my heart especially aches for those children who are forced to feel that acute separation from their mother at far too young an age. Children like that of my cousin Mike’s wife, Lisa, who loved music, dancing, the theater and more. Her real pride and joy were her children.
With the birth of each of her children, Lisa started a journal, not only for them, but to them. An odd concept perhaps — why write to someone when you can simply talk to them? Yet, Lisa did both. In each personal and separate journal, she recorded her feelings about their strengths, their talents, how they each individually blessed the family and mostly how much she loved them.
When Lisa was three months pregnant with her sixth baby, she went into cardiac arrest one night. Lisa was in a coma for five days before she and the unborn baby passed away.
Eight years after losing Lisa, Mike re-married. This marriage however, was extremely difficult, and four years later, they divorced. The separation was especially hard on Matthew, Mike’s youngest son. This woman, although the complete opposite of Lisa, had been the only definition of “mom” that Matthew had ever known and now he would lose her too — this time at the age of 12.
After the divorce, the family was again aware of just how much they missed Lisa, but perhaps it was Matthew who needed his mother most of all. Because he had only been a year old when she had died, he did not have anything like the precious journals his mother had written, which his older sisters treasured. Nor did his then-3-year-old brother Michael.
One particularly tough day, Mike and his boys decided to clean out some old boxes in the garage. As Mike opened a box and pulled out its contents, two journals fell out the bottom. One was addressed to Michael and the other to Matthew.
I asked Matthew if he’d be willing to share a part of his journal with me. Matthew couldn’t hold it together, but he nodded as he quietly got up from where he was sitting and reverently handed me his journal, open to a specific page. The words, “Matthew’s Song” were handwritten across the top.
I looked at my cousin Mike for an explanation.
“Lisa wrote songs for each of our kids that she’d sing to them for bedtime each night,” he told me.
Matthew wanted me to share his mother’s song to him.
Matthew’s Song
Matthew, my baby, be joyful and giving. Be glad you are living. Rejoice with a song.
Matthew, my child, be honest and true. The spirit will tell you what’s right and what’s wrong.
Matthew, choose wisely — stand tall and be fair. Seek to know mercy, forgiveness and prayer.
Matthew, my friend, never doubt that I love you — like stars up above you, I’ll always be there.
At the end of the page it simply said, “I love you. —Mom”
With tears in my own eyes, I asked Matthew what his journal meant to him, though I could clearly see the answer by the way he cradled it. It was his link to his mother, her voice, her words.
Struggling to get the words out and with tears now streaming down his cheeks, Matthew responded. “I didn’t realize how much love my mom had for me ... I didn’t know moms love like that.”
Shortly after Lisa died, Mike’s family would learn the cause of her death: an enlarged heart.
When I got home from Mike’s house, I opened my nightstand and found my journal. I wiped the dust off and began to write.

Kate Rose Lee is a Utah native, mother of three and author. You can read more of her writing as well as her books at www.momentsofchunder.blogspot.com. Contact her at momentsofchunder@gmail.com.