10 September 2010

Oh Brother Where Art Thou?

"The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

September 11, 2001 (A day that neither myself nor the rest of the world will ever forget.)

I was so happy when I woke up this morning. It was a beautiful day and I had finally shaken the depression that had plagued me the week before. I put on the water for my coffee and walked over to my computer and waited patiently for the kettle to whistle, just as I had already begun doing.I sat down at my desk and began making a copy of the the soundtrack from the movie "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" I was making it for my brother, Donnie. Music is my passion and I love sharing my favorite. I knew my brother would enjoy this particular soundtrack and I was anxious to get it finished and in the mail to him.

I started typing out a letter to enclose with his gift. I began with, "Hi Brother, where art thou?" given my farcical sense of humor. I went on to tell him how much I thought he would enjoy my gift of music that I so lovingly put together for him. As I whistled and typed the final paragraph, my telephone rang; my very frantic aunt on the other end. With hysteria in her voice, she instructed me to turn the news on. I expected the worst, given her frantic state. I turned on the television just in time to see an airliner crashing into an already burning building. The "collision" was being played over and over and over.My first thought was of my darling brother, a Delta pilot who flies into New York City often. The news had not yet reported what airline it was.

I raced to the phone and frantically began dialing his cell phone number only to get his voicemail.O brother, where are thou? was racing through my mind. I hung up and tried again, this time hearing his beautiful voice at the other end of the phone saying, "Hello." I broke down. He assured me that he was okay and was sitting in LAX waiting for a plane to take him home for the start of a much needed vacation. However, his vacation would have to begin later, as all flights across the country had been canceled. This was serious.

As a former fighter pilot for the Air National Guard, my brother stated that we would surely go to war. Now my heart was aching for the other very important man in my life, my son, Ryan, who joined the United States Air Force a couple of years ago. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me by Satan. I told my brother I would let him go so as to free up the phone for other concerned family members calls, but not before I said, "I love you and please stay safe."

As I was hanging up the phone the sun was disappearing and claps of thunder could be heard in the distance. It scared me and maybe for a fleeting moment I envisioned the world ending. The storm became so bad that I had to shut down my computer as lightning was striking everywhere. I couldn't help but think how coincidental this storm was. It had been such a beautiful and sunshiny morning.

I called my brother back a couple of hours later to find out what the mood was at LAX. He said he had gone to a very crowded car rental agency after LAX had been evacuated. He rented a van and then asked if there was anyone who wanted a ride to Tucson, Phoenix or anywhere in between. He had several takers as he embarked on the eight hour journey. He had a van full of strangers who were united by horrific disaster, but that were not forced to mourn alone. Clearly it would be a trip that none of them could or would ever forget.

I managed to muster up a slight smile at the thought of my dear brother commandeering this van from the "pilot's seat" while still in his Delta uniform. If you knew my brother, you would know that all of his passengers on that day were riding in "First Class." I will now go pray for all the victims, their family and friends. I will pray for this country and the state it is in. I will pray for the subsequent deaths that this will lead to and then I will thank our most loving God for the safety of my brother, my best friend.
And this I wrote after I saw a woman being interviewed who could not find her husband.

by Robin Garrett-Welsh

I kissed your lips and straightened your tie,
Sent you off with a warm good-bye.

"I love you, have a nice day,"
the very last words you'd hear me say.

I wish that I had hugged you tight,
when we crawled in our bed last night.

I wish I'd have told you how much you mean to me,
I wish, I wish, I wish for things that'll never be.

An attack on America, and end to our dreams,
life is much shorter than originally seems.

A country too lenient allowing terrorists to sing,
a useless attack so that freedom may ring.

September 12, 2001


john bord said...

Like you I was drinking my morning coffee, just turned on the TV and saw an airplane flying into the tower.... what...

Glad you are well and dealing with the times.

The Paper Whisperer said...

Dear John...thank you for stopping by. I just finished reading a "survivors" account of that horrible day. It was surreal. He was on a train under the building and when the train pulled up in the shopping mall section he said he heard so much commotion going on and remembered thinking, "it sounded like there was a lot of fun going on up there," and he couldn't wait to get up and be a part of it.

I can actually see myself in my living room and can remember, quite vividly, the beautiful skies that day. Ironic how tragedies remain engrained in our psyches way more than happy events do. Peace, Robin

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to your brother. And what a very sad day. I still get chill bumps thinking about how it unfolded. Nice job paper whisperer. Steph

The Paper Whisperer said...

Thank you Steph, and thank you for stopping by. My brother played a huge role in my life and is probably the reason I'm still here to write about it. Being my "cheerleader" and continuing to help me navigate through this life that I'm pretty sure I will never be able to understand, became a bit too much for him. He ultimately pulled the ejection handle in order to save his self and those around him. It's been about nine years since I've spoken to him and not a day goes by that I don't think about him and love him for giving me the gift of myself. :-) We all have our own 9/11's, don't we? Come back by, I have another story to tell about "that" day. More chill bumps. Rock your day! Robin

Anonymous said...

Robin, you truly inspire me with your gift as a writer. This tribute to your brother and the 9-11 tradegy pulled at my heart strings. I shall never ever forget that day and I pray that our country is safe from her enemies. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tribute. :-D

The Paper Whisperer said...

Awwwww, Donna, thank you!! I have had so much fun getting to "know you." At least our paths crossed....BONUS! AND I have a new puppy love....BAILEY!! hahahaha

Sandi said...

Hey my long distance friend. As always your words touch my heart in someway. Often it is my funny bone that is tickled but always my heart is affected.
9/11 is such a marker of our time, generation and lives. I am perplexed that some of our leadership does not reflect the memory of those who lost their lives.
As for your brother, oh precious heart. An empty space for you for sure. You ARE a strong woman. Keep the words flowing. You never know how they help someone.
Love to you and your new puppy!!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Thanks for reminding us that we must remember. Always.

On that morning, I'd just put the kids on the bus for school and shut the door. A terrible nausea and cold sweat came over me, so I plunked down on the couch. Something made me turn on the tv. What a horrible memory.


The Paper Whisperer said...

Sandi! *smiling!!* I'm so pleased that I tickle you, but I only wish to "affect" your heart in a positive way. +♥+ I don't have a whole lot more than my words/wisdom to give, and if I can help even one person through my pain, that will make *my* journey much easier. And PLEASE don't cry for me Argentina (;-), I learned long ago how to "make the world go away." (Am I the only one who notices a song pattern here? haha). You know how they say prisoners who are released cannot function out in the real world and usually end up right back in? Well, that's me, so to speak. I've lived in this "prison" so long that it is truly all I know. One does not miss what one does not know. The few times I've attempted to "escape," I failed miserably. So I just sit back clanking on my bars with my tin cup (making some noise)so no one will completely forget me. I AM a very strong woman and have been told that by so many. But it was my brother who first pointed this most sensational quality of mine out; over and over and over. My strength comes from Jesus Christ and I just have to trust that there is something good waiting for me in His time, not mine. I have always, and too freely, handed out slices of love to make sure no one else went hungry. I never included myself and as a result, ended up starving for love. I'm learning how to serve myself first so I can keep up my strength. Without it, what good will I be to anyone else?

"...Love comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
1 Timothy 1:5

I'm so glad you stopped by. I was marveling at your photos from the girls camping trip. WHAT FUN!!

P.S.-I don't *really* have a new puppy. I just fell in love with one of my facebook friends puppies. His name is Bailey and he captured my heart. Hugs and prayers, Sand Crab! ♥

The Paper Whisperer said...

Angie: I always think about how it is the day before your birthday. Life goes on for the living, but you are right, we must never forget and I'm pretty sure that will never happen in anyone's heart. Hugs backatcha!!!

Kathryn Magendie said...

A surreal and terrible day, but there were moments after, yes . . . that . . . inspired or gave a sense of wonder or hope or ....all.

beautiful post.

Craig Barfield said...

Amazing tribute to your brother and an even more amazing poem. Its really good . While reading the other posts I got to thinking that in all the time I spent with you in high school I never got to know your brother or family. The decades have been too many since we spent any time together & I just want to say first off that I miss you and that I am so proud of you. To write as well as you do is no small feat and I commend you for honing your literary skills and sublimating them into something positive.
I have much to say to you but I am not sure your blog is the proper place. I will say that there are many of us (strong Christians like myself included) who are "Walking Wounded". For years we have been bearing the burdens of our wounded emotions as well as those friends & family members who depend on us. Sometimes we get tired & disilusioned from the journey & we beat ourselves up (emotionally speaking)and lose site of the good things in this life.I want to encourage you to keep fighting and to keep believing in those good and lovely things. Things that are worth believing in. Dont stop fighting and dont stop trying.I am sure you are loved and appreciated more than you know cause I love ya.
Take care sweetie.

The Paper Whisperer said...

Kathryn, you are absolutely right and thank you. I'm so excited about your book and will purchase an autographed copy when they are available...K?

The Paper Whisperer said...

Craig, you made me boo-hoo with your comment. You have NO IDEA how much it means for me that you took the time to come by and leave such beautiful feetprint. I am humbled and wish we were in hugging distance. No one really knew my family; it was nothing personal. We weren't allowed to have people over so I was always at your house...THANK GOD. Your beautiful, sweet mother was such a huge support for me. AND she loved me and even let me call her "Mom." Your house was a happy place and I have so many wonderful memories of your family. I would LOVE to talk to you and "hear more" of anything/everything you want to say. I will email you my digits and it will be a joy to catch up. Whadya know, it's YOUR birthday today and yet I feel like the one that got the present. Love you mucho Craig!!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Came to subscribe and to follow on networked blogs :)

Loved your comment on "who are you"...made me laugh and smile and all that jazz ....

The Paper Whisperer said...

Thanks Katherine! Who doesn't love a little JAZZ?! :-D

unomattwill said...

I think I wrote this on facebook, but why is it that we all remember exactly where we were when real bad things happen? That was a day that I will never forget. I remember where I was, whom I was with, and what I was doing! I remember how wild it was when I looked up in the sky thinking that there was no airplanes flying in our entire country.
That story came from your heart Robin! I love that! Such a big heart you have!

The Paper Whisperer said...

Yes, Matt, I do remember you writing about that on FB. I'm so glad you are following me and reading my blogs. Thank you! And yes, that story did come from my great big 'ol heart. "They" keep trying to break it all to pieces, but it just ain't happenin' now is it? :-D Love you!