From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Just Can't Have a Simple Conversation With This Woman... or Tribute to the United States Marine Corps.

She makes me cry every time...  I'm talking about my friend Jill Marshall.  When I first "friended" her on facebook, it was because she was so intelligent and funny.  I am drawn to people with good minds who aren't afraid to use them.  Then one day I was just scrolling through my facebook home page and I saw a picture of a young woman in a hospital bed, she obviously had suffered severe injuries.  It was Jill's posting, and she was wishing herself Happy Birthday.  I flippantly typed Happy Birthday Jill!  Then the "story" began pouring out.  The picture was of her... she had been the one who almost did not survive in the accident.  By that time, I had known her awhile, and on days when I would really get down, (having a husband you adore, I almost typed worship, but then the Lord tapped me on the shoulder, is not easy,) Jill would a type a message to me, and I could go on.  She always seemed to know exactly what to say, and she seemed so strong.  She almost flaunted that nothing could get her down.   She seemed hard as nails.

She began describing her injuries, seems Jill and I have both practiced the profession of nursing, and she still does.  I also went to paramedic school, the full college program, and as she described the car wreck, being pinned in the car, and the months it took to recover, I knew the physical and emotional agony she had been through.   Professionally, and unfortunately, within my own family, I have witnessed many times the crazy things that can go wrong in the blink of an eye as people move from place to place in cars.  (Here is a good spot for me to say to everyone, when you are driving, drive, don't text, talk on the phone, put your make-up on, or any other silly thing that could cause you to lose your life.  Worse yet, you could wind up taking the life of some innocent person in a moment of distraction.)  Jill was doing none of those things, it was the other guy that was.   As she described what happened, her injuries, her recovery, her dad standing by her bed... I found myself crying.  

When Jill wished herself Happy Birthday, she was celebrating the day God saw fit that she not leave this world yet, she pondered why as she typed.  I immediately replied, advising her, "because one day a husband who was adored by his wife would have to go to the Middle East for two years, and it would be too hard for the wife to do without the words of Jill Marshall.   

I had pictured her in my mind as a large, strong, "farm fed" woman, then I realized from pictures she wasn't that at all.  I didn't puzzle further over what made her seem like a Southern "Steel Magnolia."  I  assumed it was all related to the accident, and what it had taken to not only survive it, but to come back and go on to lead a very productive and giving life.
Little did I know... 

When my husband deployed our family was an Active Duty Reserve Family, meaning my husband was a Reservist and he served once a month at Battle Assemblies, and sometimes in larger segments during the year.  We do not live on or near a military establishment, so the built in support system that is found on a post was non-existent for Brian, Becky, and I.  I didn't know what facebook was, and probably never would have, as my evenings and week-ends when Randy was home were spent playing cards, working in the yard, doing projects, exploring Austin County, laughing and talking,  sitting in church together,  and just enjoying our love and devotion to each other.  My husband and I are rather rare in the fact that we never have disagreements or arguments, we really are "a three fold cord."  I had sort of felt since I met Randy that I really didn't need anyone else.  I know that is flawed thinking, but since meeting Randy, I have experienced a richness in my soul and a level of happiness I have never known in life before, (and I have known so much happiness.)   I have come to realize what excellent goodness God has brought to my life by sending my husband to the Mid-East in defense of this country.  I have always had good friends, now I have even more.  I would not have believed that such meaningful relationships could be developed on the Internet, but I now have a host of friends that I have never laid eyes on in person, but for whom I would do anything within my capability, if they needed help.   As David said of Jonathan, we have "knit our souls."  

 Jill unknowingly sets traps for me, and unfailingly, I hit every one of them.   I fell in one of those traps again when I saw a picture Jill had posted of an old house, I have previously blogged of what that house was, and why the image immediately burned in my brain.  Jill makes photographs with her Blackberry,  what Jill can do with a Blackberry leaves me in awe.  
This is one of her photos of her grand-mother's barn, I have asked her how she makes photos like this with a Blackberry, she always tells me it isn't her, it's the subject.   When she absolutely rocks my heart with a simple description of what happened, goose bumps come on my face and arms, and tears sting at my eyes, she says, "it's just my life..."

For some reason that I have yet to learn, Jill's mother was not in her life, but she had a wonderful grand-mother named Lera, who I have "storied" about in "From the Ranch" previously, and I will do so again.  I discovered Lera when I was, hope this doesn't get repetitive, scrolling my facebook home page and found a person's profile picture which was an old house.  I have always loved old abandoned houses,  but the picture of this one gave me a jolt.  Some images do, and their subjects are so varied, it may be a war photo, the image of a child, and it can be in any medium, but photos are the most difficult for anyone to use artistically, because one only has so much control.  The artistic license is limited, even with Photo Shop.  This is the image I saw:

 I am currently painting this house in oils, I chose this view, but a different season, when some of the flowers that were originally planted by this woman were blooming.  Lear died in 1988, but her love lives on, just like her flowers,  and I know of it because of the words Jill wrote to me about her on face book, and in emails, that made me cry.

Bet you are wondering when the Marine part is coming in.  Let me give this warning, only the strong of heart should continue reading this blog entry...  The next thing that Jill told me of brought me to my knees, and I whispered to God, "no wonder she always knew the right thing to say."  Jill was lucky enough in life to find the love of her life, a young valiant Marine who gave his life for his country in Lebanon in 1983.   I wept, not cried, when she told me the details of her love for this man, of his courage and Marine's heart.

 If you look closely in this high school graduation photo of her husband, you see my friend Jill's perfectly manicured hand, holding that Blackberry as she takes the photo.  That makes it so much more special to me.  She recently went to see her husband's father, and that is where she made the following photos.  It must have meant so much to that "Old Marine," that his daughter-in-law would come and spend time sharing his memories of the son she and he had both loved so deeply.

Then she told me she found love again, and of the happiness that she shared with Chris.  Chris was a Soldier in the United States Army, an Army Ranger to be exact.  He was killed in action in 2008, in the War on Terror.  I remember sinking back in the chair at my desk, I couldn't think of a word to say.  I love words, to me they are the essence of the human connection, whether written, spoken, or signed.  Always, I have words... almost always I have words... Jill not only makes me cry... she leaves me without adequate words.

I wrote a poem after several days without words that I titled "If," and I presented it to my husband as a gift on Valentine's Day, you can find it on my poetry site,  Of course I wept again, this time it lingered for about three days.  Then came the next trap.  The photo at the top of this particular blog, which I offer again for your consideration, as I again caution the reader who might be faint of heart.

I had assumed it was her husband's "dress mess," and we exchanged the following comments on facebook:

·  Awww Debra! That's Dennis' father's blues. He's still alive. Sgt Major Charles F. Cook USMC 1948-1978 USMC (ret)
Yesterday at 6:25pm · LikeUnlike
Jill Marshall ♥♥♥
Yesterday at 6:26pm · LikeUnlike
Debra LeCompte I am crying again... what a sacred garment... I am so emotional these days... I just can't believe he is coming home...
Yesterday at 6:28pm · LikeUnlike
Debra LeCompte Somewhere inside I had believed God would require of me something I could not bear... and I guess I was right, I could not have borne it... and God doesn't give people things they can't bear.
Yesterday at 6:29pm · LikeUnlike
Debra LeCompte And God must have more things for a man as industrious and devoted as Randy to do.
Yesterday at 6:31pm · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading...
Jill Marshall I visited with my husband's father on Sunday and took some really cool pictures. Check out my photo album entitled "A Family of Marines". Dennis' mother was a Marine, too.
Yesterday at 6:32pm · UnlikeLike · 1 personLoading...
Debra LeCompte A Family of Marines... did you write about this... Jill... boy, you know Joseph, the guy with the "coat of many colors," was sold into slavery by his brothers...
Yesterday at 6:37pm · LikeUnlike
Debra LeCompte He was falsely accused of being inappropriate with his boss's wife and imprisoned...
Yesterday at 6:37pm · LikeUnlike
Debra LeCompte I don't think he had as hard a time as you have... and God had something so big He needed him to do... and when he did it... blessings rained down on him...
Yesterday at 6:39pm · LikeUnlike
Jill Marshall Well, Dennis' father bitched the entire time he was in Beirut. He kept saying, "I can't believe they have my ONLY son sitting in a building full of Marines, JUST waiting for something bad to happen. That's too many Marines in one GD place!" It's like his father knew what was coming. Dennis was also killed on his mother's birthday. =(
Yesterday at 6:40pm · LikeUnlike
Debra LeCompte Wonder what you are going to get... If the urge ever hits you to buy a lottery ticket... do it... I'm not a gambler, never buy the things... but if the urge hits you... buy it...
Yesterday at 6:40pm · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading...
Debra LeCompte Well, I was wrong on that first post... the man who wore this uniform gave far more than his last full measure of true devotion...
Yesterday at 6:43pm · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading...
Jill Marshall It was three days before they found Dennis amidst all the rubble and his Dad just kept walking around saying," He's dead. My only son is dead. I survived Korea and Viet Nam and they put my only son over there like a sitting duck!" It was sooooo sad.
Yesterday at 6:43pm · LikeUnlike
Debra LeCompte God stopped just short of his soul... took his heart, I am sure...
Yesterday at 6:44pm · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading...
Debra LeCompte Please, tell Dennis' parents for me, thank you for their service, in fact if you could send me a message with their address, I would like to send them a personal thank you, I know their pain remains relentless.
Yesterday at 6:46pm · LikeUnlike
Jill Marshall Dennis' mother passed away in 2001. She is buried beside of Dennis. Dennis was born at MCAS Beaufort and his mother would take him over to Parris Island to watch the recruits drilling. His dad said all he ever wanted to be was a Marine.
2 hours ago · Like

Needless to say, I cried....

 “Some people wonder all their lives if they’ve made a difference.  
The Marines don’t have that problem.”
Ronald Reagan

Again I found myself without words, so I just made the above quote my contribution to this blog until I began once again to find words.  They are not adequate words... I do not know if there are adequate words.  Certainly, "thank you for your service" does not work.  What do you say to a family who has given so much?  All I could think of after pondering for  several days now are those which are "adequate" words, and a favorite of mine, which were spoken by the greatest Warrior who has ever been, King David, "Oh how the mighty are fallen in the midst of the battle... "  When King Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle, David grieved with the same passion that he fought with.  Another thought comes to me, an admonition ...   America, guard well what has been secured for the use of so many, at such a terrible cost borne by so few.

Because of who my parents are, and I don't  mean by that because they are rich, powerful, or influential, but because of what good people they are, I have always been surrounded by outstanding people.  So I know good people when I encounter them.  Jill Marshall is "good people."   Not only is my friend Jill good people, she is remarkable people.  I have to point out though, I can't have a simple conversation with her without her making me cry... I know you see what I mean by now.   

Jill Marshall:
Debra, I am so touched that you chose to blog about me and my life. People often tell me how strong I am. I don't know if it's strong or bitter.
I loved the blog. There are a few things that should be corrected, though. Dennis was kia in Beirut 23 October 1983, not 1981. Chris was a US Army Ranger and he was killed in 2008, not 2004.
At least I can say I have loved and lost QUALITY men!
I think this is why I haven't had a relationship in the past three years. It's hard to find men of such caliber!
I am starting to think you are a psychic. You mentioned the Christmas morning picture of Dennis in his camo pjs. That WAS Christmas morning in Hawaii, but I didn't tell you that, nor is there anything in the picture that indicates it's Christmas!
You never cease to amaze me!
I love you, friend.

Debra LeCompte:
It was the candles on the porch with this one... so nothing there was involving the "still small voice," but I have had those moments with photos you post. I always know when I am having one. There is a spot in the back of my neck right where my head joins my spine... The goose bumps start there and end when they run out my finger tips... Some of Buzzy's photos do the same thing, but I think that is because I have some connection with his mother. Her twin "boys" are 10 days older than my twin "boys."

"I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart, I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”  John Steinbeck,  East of Eden.