A mothers son goes to Iraq, PART 13.
We have to thank Melody Pigg for sending us another letter about her son Marshall Pigg. This is her 13th instillation and we're honored to publish it here.
One of the greatest gifts we've been given in life is our memory. The human brain has amazing capabilities to retain facts and figures, knowledge, and moments from your life. Some are moments that when reflected upon can bring you great joy. Then there are other life changing moments that can give you sadness and grief that feels as raw as the day of occurrence. Collectively every one of these memories, good and bad, create a picture book story of our lives. These memories can be triggered by a place, a picture, a song, a calendar date, a conversation with someone, and even with a smell.
Over the past two weeks, memories of Marshall's life have been flooding my brain. I've been trying to figure out in my mind why Marshall makes decisions and how he has evolved into a man of character, integrity, and honor. I realize some of it is genetic and some is environmental. Marshall always knew he was loved immensely and that he was a great gift. We parented with humor instead of strictness. It was a running joke between Pat and I that we're such strict disciplinarians. We just wanted our sons to know they were loved unconditionally and tried to steer them in the right direction by example. Our goal was to not mold Marshall into what we wanted, it was to enhance the soul that God created.
My Mother seems to be going through the flood of Marshall memories, too. She remembers when Marshall was a toddler, he would babble to "someone" and when you asked him who he was talking to, his response was "God." She also told me about the time she and Marshall were walking through the woods after a rain. Marshall had stopped under a small tree and Mom shook the tree so the water would drop off the leaves onto his head. He got her back good. She said she was soaked! I can just picture the smile on his face and hear the laughter in the air.
This time of year, I remember Marshall playing football. He really didn't get to play much, but it was nice to see him in uniform pacing the sidelines anxious to go into the game. The best part was that he played high school football in the stadium where his Dad played ball. Sometimes on the way home from the game, his Dad would express that he wished Marshall would do some things differently on the football field. Instead of saying something to Marshall when he got home, his Dad would wait a while and give him an example from his football days. That's one of the greatest gifts that Pat had about being a parent. When Marshall made a mistake, his Dad never got angry or criticized him. They would sit down and talk over what happened, why it was wrong, and figure out a way to correct the situation. I'm embarrassed to say that there were a few times I did get mad at Marshall. Especially the time we were driving to a movie and Marshall put on some of those cheap kid handcuffs in the car and couldn't get them off. We had to turn around and go home. Needless to say, we didn't go to the movie.
There are two memories from Marshall teen years that were life changing because I knew he was a man. The first one happened when he was 15. I was going to school at night and he was home babysitting his brother, Michael. We had gotten out of class early, so I called Marshall to tell him I'd be home after I went to the grocery store. By the time I was checking out about 30 minutes later, Marshall called my cell phone. His Dad had a medical emergency on his way home and they were going to the hospital and would meet me there. I asked, "Where's your Dad?' Marshall responded that he was on the shoulder of the road less than a mile from the house. I asked, "How did you get there?" Marshall had the neighbor take him to his Dad. Since Marshall had his learner's permit, the police had Marshall drive Pat's van home and then they drove Marshall to the hospital. Then I asked," Where's Michael?" Michael was next door with the neighbors. What totally amazed me was that my 15 year old son had handled everything. By the time he called me, everything was done. When I got to the hospital, he was making his Dad laugh by blowing up a latex glove.
The second proud moment happened during his Senior year. Marshall was working part-time delivering medical supplies to home bound patients. Apparently during one of his deliveries, he accidentally "tapped" another driver's rear bumper. He came home, wrote the other driver a check and put it in the mailbox. I only found out about it because he forgot to put a stamp on the envelope! Once again he had handled the entire situation without guidance from a parent.
Marshall returned to the States from his last deployment on Good Friday. I've really enjoyed being able to call him whenever I wanted but most of all enjoyed the comfort of him being back in the States. Two weeks ago he called me and said, "Mom, I have some news." That's usually not a good thing. His Marine brothers who have been "over there" for several months have had their deployment extended and they need more men. My son has volunteered to go. I was able to remain calm during the phone conversation. Marshall told me he'd call me back when he had more details, but he knew they'd probably be leaving in a couple of weeks. After we hung up, I lost it, and unfortunately for my brother-in-law, Chris, he had to hear it. I knew Marshall would eventually be deployed again, but I really wasn't ready for it to happen so soon. This deployment is especially difficult because I don't have anyone to share it with that has the same deep love for Marshall as I do. Marshall's Dad died in January during his last deployment. Pat has struggled with numerous health issues for several years and they eventually took a toll on his body. Luckily it wasn't a sudden event. Marshall was able to call me frequently for updates and I was able to personally tell him that we were going to take his Dad off the respirator. I was glad he didn't have to hear it from the Marines. Marshall called my cell phone and left a final message for his Dad. He was able to tell his Dad one last time that he was a good Father and that he loved him. I'm sure it brought both Pat and Marshall some comfort.
When Marshall was home for post deployment leave in May, we decided we were going to plant a tree in memory of his Dad. I wanted a Red Bud, Marshall wanted a Weeping Willow, and Michael really didn't care which tree we picked. Naturally Marshall won. The three of us went to the local nursery and picked a Weeping Willow that was about 6 feet tall with 12 inch tendrils. Now it's a beautiful tree that's probably 10 feet tall with long flowing tendrils that touch the ground. It's really beautiful when there's a slight breeze. I'm really glad we chose this tree since it will have year round beauty.
I told Pat's brother, Chris, about our purchase and how it brings me some comfort and is a constant reminder of Pat. Chris replied, "There's no way you could know this. Pappa had a Weeping Willow tree. When times were tough when we were kids, Pat and I would go sit under the Weeping Willow." Precious memories from the past had come full circle. The circle is complete.
Please pray for my son, the rest of our troops, and the families that stand in their heroes shadows filled with pride but also enveloped with fear and anxiety. Pray that God will surround them with His comfort and peace.