Friday, February 21, 2014

An Unexpected Gift



      To say life is hectic right now is an understatement. As we gear up for our charity’s annual fundraiser, instead of getting easier, this year it’s been harder.  Although the economy is a little better, Mother Nature’s icy wrath last week plunged most of our state into power outages and left trees looking as if they’d been in a war.  There was even a 4.4 magnitude earthquake near the S.C./George line a couple of days later…although I have to wonder if it wasn’t just a bunch of ice covered trees hitting the ground simultaneously.  Then our “big name guests” had a last minute scheduling problem and will only be present for half our event.  Add to that the usual hustle of gathering soldiers from various states to one location while providing their housing and a meal, while selling tickets, gathering door prizes/Silent Auction items and hoping everyone has a great time.  Oh, did I mention the Guest Speaker at the Fundraiser Dinner this year is…me?  Not fond of crowds but I love our soldiers and if it’ll help them, I can pretend to be a great orator.  Actually, I’m approaching it as storytelling, something I’m more comfortable with.
        Now in between all this, the Board and I have full time jobs.  And at least twice a day I check the charity e-mail so at night I can answer soldier questions and send them the necessary paperwork to apply for our program.  One soldier, Eric, had made 2 attempts to e-mail his paperwork, but each try was too blurry to use.  Wearily, yet politely, I asked him to just send it regular mail.  Eric not only agreed, he sent me an e-mail telling me exactly when he had mailed the documents, when they would be picked up and requested that someone let him know when they arrived.
        I was tired, overworked, stretched to the end of my rope, but our soldiers always tug at my heart. Their correspondence is a reminder that they’ve experienced a world meaner and nastier than my backyard.  Gathering the last of my sense of humor I replied, “I'm the one that does all the grunt work...I mean paperwork.  It'll come to me and I’ll be sure to let you know. Thanks!”  His reply re-energized me.
        “If that's the case then I know it's a thankless job so let me be the one to thank you wholeheartedly for all your diligent work. Just look at how quick you responded. I mean, that's pretty amazing!!”
        For 15 years, Eric was an Army medic.  Yesterday a friend who was also an Army medic posted this:

     I can’t even begin to imagine what Eric witnessed.  I’m strong, but not that kind of strong. Wounded in Afghanistan, Eric’s career is ending much earlier than he’d anticipated when enlisting.  When talking to our soldiers, I often wonder if I could handle life throwing me such wicked curves.  But Eric is working on getting to his next step: healing himself.  That we can aid in the process is something of which I’m truly proud.
        Last night, after a day of feeling as if I’d gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson before he began biting off opponents' ears, I discovered this in the middle of e-mails requesting assistance.
        “Hey,
        I just wanted to send a random email that simply says hi and that you are appreciated for looking through all these emails and actually reading them. Thanks for all you do.
      I'm heading to Chicago for the weekend and I'm sitting in the Memphis airport and just figured I'd send you an email thanking you for helping introducing me to this amazing sport! It is helping me clear my mind. I feel amazing and I'm looking forward to competing soon.  I hope you have an amazing day.

Eric”

        Thanks to you Eric, I just did.  From one grunt to another, I salute you. 
        And if we ever meet, you’ve got one great big, southern hug of gratitude waiting for you.

6 comments:

maurcheen said...

Xxx

:)

hope said...

Thanks, I needed that too. :)

Ponita in Real Life said...

Here's more: xoxoxoxo

From an Air Force brat who grew up surrounded by soldiers and pilots and such... all the work you and your charity does is amazing. Hope, You Rock!!

savannah said...

I need to talk to you about your program, so look for an email on the site today from sharifa. xoxoxo

hope said...

Thanks ladies! Can't wait to see old friends this weekend and put some faces to those names on applications.

Sav: just sent a reply. :)

samurai said...

Hello Hope - slowly getting back out into the blogging world... i cannot comment on every post... but it was good to catch up.

I especially loved the Combat Medic's picture. Thank you for sharing.