Saturday, April 24, 2010

I REMEMBER MAMA by Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

Several months ago, I asked my family and friends, members of the Army Security Agency Kagnew Station Guard Group, and those in my address book, to please take the time to put a few words down honoring their mothers, that first woman in their lives whom God chose for His highest calling, to bring them into this world. There are no words that thrill the heart of a mother more than to hear her child say, "I love you, Mom!" We best obey the Fifth Commandment by respecting our Fathers and by loving our Mothers.

Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"
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MARGE HEYMAN ANTON by Jaci Anton

I KNOW LITTLE OF MY MOTHER, ONLY WHAT PEOPLE TELL ME. I LIKE TO THINK OF HER AS A FUN LOVING WOMAN, AND I THINK OF HER OFTEN WHEN I LOOK IN THE MIRROR OR WHEN IT STRIKES ME JUST TO SING OUT LOUD. I HEAR SHE LOVED MUSIC AND THAT I LOOK JUST LIKE HER. THOSE WHO KNEW HER SAY SHE HAD A GOOD SPIRIT AND THOSE WHO LOVED HER, AS MY FATHER DID, SAW HOW SPECIAL SHE WAS. DESPITE WHAT WAS ON THE SURFACE HE SAW HER HEART. I MISS MY MOTHER ALTHOUGH I KNOW LITTLE ABOUT HER. I WISH I HAD HAD MORE TIME WITH HER. I JUST KEEP HER IN MY HEART ALWAYS AND KNOW THAT SHE IS WATCHING MY EVERY STEP. ALWAYS LOVE THOSE CLOSE TO YOU NO MATTER WHAT.

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ANNA G. ANTON
by Scott Anton

Happy Mothers Day, Mom. I wish I could be there for you on your special day. I'll be home soon.

Love, Scott

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KATHRYN ROSE CREDO TULANE by Geraldine Tulane

No one realizes that there were, and probably still are, "causalities of war" involving the families of Merchant Marines who were killed by U-boat submarines during WWII. There was a desperate need for volunteer Merchant Marines to transport oil, troops, rations, equipment and whatever else was needed as the U.S. tried to help England before we entered the war and anticipated that we would probably enter it also eventually.

Many men of all ages responded to the "We Want You" signs showing Uncle Sam pointing a finger at whoever was looking at this sign. As time wore on many of these men were told that they were needed more urgently in the Merchant Marines. Dutifully, they signed on to these merchant ships. At some point. President Roosevelt promised these men that if these brave men were injured or killed, they would receive medical care and/or their families would be given death benefits should they be killed. It took a special kind of man to climb the ladders up onto those ships, knowing so many had been blown out of the water and having no weapons to fight with in many cases. One (or no more than 2) Coast Guard Cutters were assigned to patrol the entire eastern coastline from Maine down to Key West to pick up survivors of sunken merchant ships...not a good chance of survival for men either injured or floating in oil ridden seas. But they kept on signing up...talk about courage.

President Roosevelt died before the end of the war. When Truman stepped in and the war was ended, he decided that the Merchant Marines deserved nothing as they were not sworn in as the men in uniform were. The fact that there was never a major battle anywhere while fighting the Japanese and the Germans that did not involve unarmed merchant ships sailing right along with our armed forces men...Merchant Marines that were captured were also imprisoned along with our service men. None of this mattered to our government after it was all over and done with.

My mother was raised in Louisiana to be a mother and a wife. She found herself a young woman alone with a tiny child to support with no husband and no money and no hopes of acquiring a good job. When the war was over there was a campaign for the working women who had taken their husband places in the work force to quit their jobs so the returning service men would have jobs to care for their families.

She did the only work she knew....waitressing and sewing. I wound up in an all-girls Catholic boarding school for many years because my mother worked such grueling hours. I cannot go into just how rough it was for her living in Staten Island and how meagerly we lived. But she did not complain very much at all. She cried a lot and I was always aware of the deep sadness she carried within her.

Whenever we went to a parade in NYC, I always asked her, "Where are the Merchant Marines?" because she always told me what a hero my father was riding on a Standard Oil Tanker (now called Exxon) named the "SS W.L. Steed" so bravely until it was blown out of the water...getting into a life boat (we think) only to freeze to death on 2/2/1941 in a snowstorm with a NE wind blowing in his underwear.

In 1988 I wheeled my 77 yrs. old mother from one military base to another...trying to get the paperwork for the pension that was passed by Congress. For 3 months we drove from Delaware down into Virginia...Congress forgot to inform the bases that the handful of wives still left alive would be trying to get their commissary card and I.D. for medical care. Finally, we wound up back where we started out - at the VA office in Wash., D.C. and they completed all the paperwork for her.

We received a flag and a Certificate of Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Coast Guard, along with 5 medals my father had earned on that last night of his life. (Note: the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines refused to allow the Merchant Marines to be placed under their wings so that these belated pensions could finally begin to be paid (they were not retroactive, of course.) I found it ironic that it was the Coast Guard that patrolled the coastline during the war and then again, the Coast Guard who accepted the few Merchant Marines and/or widows for the sake of the pension paperwork.

At some point in my young childhood my mother became like my child. I tried to look after her and remind her when things needed to be done. I cared for her throughout my entire adult life and made sure she did not want for anything.

She didn't make much of a "dent" in the governments funds as she died at the age of 91. I held her in my arms as I laid alongside her in her hospital bed for 5 days and nights until she passed away on 9/7/2002.

But on the previous 7/4/2002, when I took her out to dinner and to see the movie, "The Perfect Storm"...she sat in her wheelchair in the handicapped section of the movie theater. She was so quiet I was wondering if she was comprehending what was going on in the movie as the Capt. of the Andrea Gail and one of his crew members were facing their imminent death while their boat sank; all of sudden she leaned over and whispered in my ear, "I guess that is what it was like for your father." We'll never know what it was like for him as the bodies in the life boats were so decomposed only a few of them were identified. I didn't know it at the time, but dementia was taking a hold on her, but she still remembered my father enough to try and piece something together, even if it wasn't "right on the nose". It was close enough for me and I had to try and hide my tears from her in that dark theater.

She maintained her wonderful sense of humor almost until the end of her life. Her favorite joke when someone asked her how she felt was, "With my hands....how do you feel?" She would laugh harder than everyone else at her own jokes. My family misses her so much...especially me...for it was truly a case of "You and Me Against the World". Not a day goes by that I don't think about her and wish she were still here.

FORGETTING, OUR GREAT SHAME; DENYING OUR GREAT SIN.

Geraldine Tulane, daughter of Kathryn Rose & Walter Austin Tulane

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MY MOTHER
by Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

For all of her life, my mother, born Elizabeth Grace Granit, called "Bessie" by her friends and family, never forgot Armistices Day, Saturday, November 11, 1933. That was the day that the United States Army Football Team from Fort Monmouth, NJ, would play the Long Branch West End Wildcats for the Jersey Shore Championship.

It was also the day that she and my father met for the first time and fell in love.

My mother had five brothers, who played on the undefeated, untied, Wildcats team: Francis, Jack, George, Eddie, and Thomas; five of Long Branch's toughest street-fighting Irish kids, the "Five Blocks of Granit."

My mother, her older sister Mary, and her lifelong friend, Edith Semolis, were the Cheerleaders for the Wildcats.

Many of the players on the Fort Monmouth team, including my father, Jim, were on TDY from West Point. My father was called "Jim Thorpe" by his teammates because of his athleticism, and was the player the five brothers were determined to stop cold if they were to beat Army.

"Big Jim" put on one helluva show that day. He scored three touchdowns and made dozens of tackles to upset the Wildcats' unblemished record.

My Uncle Francis always jokingly blamed my mother for the Army win, "Ah, Jim was just showing off to impress Bessie."

"Big Jim" and "Bessie" married shortly, thereafter. My father, a career soldier, left the Army when his enlistment was up and entered civilian life during the darkest days of the Great Depression as a regular working family man.

My sister, Patti, was born September 28, 1935; my birth followed on Easter Sunday, March 28, 1937. We lived in a kerosene space heated three room garage apartment.

December 8, 1941, I was pushing the rocking chair in which my Uncle Eddie was sitting, in our living room, if it can really be called that, when the news came over the radio about Pearl Harbor.

"Big Jim," always the Warrior, had no other choice he could live with than to re-enlist and join the fight for Freedom. They knew this would place a heavy burden on my mother while he was gone, but they were part of that Greatest Generation who never considered alternatives. A great evil had descended upon the world and it had to be defeated at all costs.

My mother was pregnant with her third child when my father left for the War. He was somewhere fighting overseas when my brother, Julius, named after my mother's father, and nicknamed "Bootsy," was born October 16, 1942. He had auburn hair and glowed like an angel.

One year later, October 14, 1943, we were at Nana's house, my mother's mother, who was confined to a wheelchair. Bootsy began to experience great difficulty in breathing. I can still hear his sounds in my head 'till this day that accompanied the winds of that terrible storm raging outside. We had no telephone, no automobile, which meant that my mother had to go out into the storm, on foot, to find help for her baby.

Two days later, October 16, 1943, Bootsy, fighting for his life, struggled to stand up in his crib at Hazard's Hospital. He reached out to our mother, scratching her throat with his fingernails, pleading in desperation for a help she could not give, then fell back and died, on his First Birthday, while my mother's heart shattered into a million pieces.

My father was brought home on emergency leave for Bootsy's funeral, the son he had never seen and, more so, because my mother was so traumatized and devastated over the loss of Bootsy she had to be hospitalized.

I don't know how she was able to come back from all this. Until the day he died, my father would remark how strong our mother was - what an exceptional woman. I believe he admired her emotional strength as much as he loved her.

February 11, 1945, my brother, and closest friend, Donnie, was born, the "spitting image" of our mother. God had given her a gift of love to help heal her heart.

Throughout most of our childhood years, especially the war years, my mother worked many long, hard hours to put food on the table for us. Looking back, she never missed a day's work, which meant that she walked that two miles to the Hollander Fur Factory, and back, every day, through wind and rain and snow.

Patti, Donnie, and I loved our mother dearly. She loved to sing and knew hundreds of songs that always filled our home with the music of her beautiful singing voice. The special song she always sang to me, when I was young, was "YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE." I, in turn, sang it to every one of my six sons, as well. Often times when I sing, I hear her voice within my voice.

There was a popular Black dance trio in the '50s called the Step Brothers. Patti, my mother, and I would imitate them in our kitchen, taking turns, dancing and clapping and laughing.

Everyone loved my mother. My cousin Tommy (Bumpsey), all of my fiends, our neighbors, people she worked with, just loved to be around her. She never once ever said a bad word about anyone. People trusted her to keep their darkest secrets and she never betrayed that trust.

All my life, whenever people would hear my name, they always made me feel as though I were something special, just because I was my mother's son, in the way they used to say: "Oh! You're Bessie's Boy!"

She had this wonderful way of being able to laugh at herself. Every so often Patti, Donnie, and I, when we're alone, will think of something our mother did or said, and just laugh out loud.

Life became truly wonderful for my mother and father in their senior retirement years. My father bought a Winnebago Chief RV and he and my mother toured America.

She took care of her father, Julius, until he died at age 96.

When my mother became sick, my sister Patti, a Registered Nurse, cared for her until her death at age 76.

My father, because he loved her so, always demanded that we treat our mother with love and respect and always reminded us not to forget her when it was her birthday, and to especially remember her on Mothers Day. He's not here to remind me now, but on this day, I can't think of anything else except how happy and proud I am to be "Bessie's Boy."

2 comments:

wiganfootie said...

My mum was my best friend and a fantastic mum i miss her so much but i know she`s watching over me,sometimes i do things then think what made me make that decision MY MUM!helping me through life xxxx thank you for being a friend Steve means a lot,love Wiganfootie xxx

Jan said...

I never knew the history you shared here, Buddy. Never knew you lost a brother, nor how your Mom and Dad met...but I did know and love them both. Just thinking about them brings tears to my eyes for the memories of them I still carry in my heart. I can attest to the fact that they were truly beautiful people and so much fun to be around. You were blessed to have them as your parents!