Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Day 242 - It's a Momma Thang

While we were in Dallas this weekend, the streets of Hot Springs were lined with motorcycles. Nearly 8,000 bikers poured into town for the 2005 Arkansas Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Rally. The annual gathering comprises the largest attendance of any single event held in Hot Springs, a city which hosts nearly 2-1/2 million visitors each year.
Thursday night before we left town, we got another glimpse of

Mammatus clouds, so named for their udder-like appearance. Until we moved here, I can recall having seen these type clouds only one other time in my entire life.

We arrived in Dallas just in time for Mandy and Will’s rehearsal dinner Friday evening. Will’s parents (Wayne’s uncle and aunt), Judge Milton and Janet Moore, hosted the Cajun-themed dinner in the Atrium of the AIG building, not far from the Park Cities Hilton.

Friends and family from all over the country gathered to celebrate with the couple and their families. Perhaps none were more appreciated than Aunt Janet’s friends from South Louisiana who made the trip in spite of their difficulties caused by Katrina.

The slide show chronicling Mandy and Will’s lives prepped us to wipe more tears as we listened to the litany of compliments and congratulations shared by the couple’s closest friends during the toasts.

On Saturday, late afternoon sunlight streamed through stained glass windows, spilling into the sanctuary of Highland Park Methodist Church. Ancient marble floors created an acoustic heaven for the string quartet playing from the choir loft.

Mandy looked absolutely beautiful beneath her full-length veil as she processed with her father to meet her groom at the altar. Observing Will watching Mandy made me think of Wayne and Lauren while they were here. I also heard myself thinking all those “momma” thoughts I used to think were so corny. Seems like only yesterday we were holding these babies.

A fabulous band greeted guests arriving for the reception at the Dallas Petroleum Club, perched 39 floors above the city lights. Mandy and Will took the floor with the first dance to Al Green’s “Let's Stay Together.” Mandy’s dad took over to lead his daughter to the Temptations’ “My Girl.”

Aunt Janet followed to dance with her son. When the band started playing, “What a Wonderful World,” I just lost it. Frantically wiping my tears, Myron tried to make it better, “It’s OK, Honey. The wedding’s over now.” Bless his heart. It’s just another Momma Thang.

Well, we’re up next with Wayne and Lauren’s wedding next summer. As soon as I can quit crying, I’ll get right on it.

If daddies get to give away their daughters, how come mommas don’t get to give away their sons? Probably because we just can't.