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, November 22, 2005

Day 308 - Misty-Eyed

I don’t recall ever having received so many Thanksgiving greeting cards as have graced our mailbox this year. Maybe it’s because we’re getting older. Maybe it’s because of Iraq. Maybe it’s because of the year’s tortuous weather. Whatever the reason, people seem unusually eager to express their gratitude for all things good—especially friends.

Yesterday, my sister, Teresa, emailed a family quip, typical of her conversations with Sarah Grace, Wayne’s very bright first-grade cousin from Atlanta.

Someone asked Sarah, "If you won the lottery, what would you buy your daddy and mama?"

Sarah replied, "For Daddy, I'd get him a purple Porsche. For Mama, a gift certificate to K-mart."
During Wayne’s deployment this year, faithful friends and family have recognized the wants and needs unique to this military mom. A thoughtful blog comment. A check. A well-timed hug. A shared thumbs-up. A tear. A song. A handwritten letter sent snail mail with a pretty stamp. Dinner. A book. A phone call. A visit. A prayer.

One new long-distance friend has massaged our friendship in her own special way.

When Myron and I visited Amelia Island Plantation in late summer, we met Misty Sherwood, a Licensed Massage Therapist on staff at the property’s Spa. Before and after our spa sessions, we shared Wayne’s story and this blog site address.

Since then, Misty has become a new friend, a faithful supporter of the troops, and a frequent commenter on our blog. She and her husband, Ron, along with their son, Elijah, have gently found a permanent place in our hearts this year.

Above all, we are a family grateful for friends.