GOLD STAR MOTHER's …DAY ?
May 11 2008
What is the meaning of these two words?
The fact is that there is no one left to call me Mother anymore!
I need to gather myself in order to remain psychologically sound.
As every year, for four years, this year is unlike the last, as time goes, the harder, the more excruciating the pain has become. I miss Patrick's voice telling me:
I love you Mom...
..just calling out of the blue for no reason, that was typical of Patrick .
I have the regret to say that I had not fully grasped the deep meaning of his spontaneous actions, I always have loved him so very much, just seeing him for a short few minutes made my day worth while.
Patrick was born 38 years ago (May 26 1970) at Stanford University Hospital, weighing just over five pounds at 1:30 pm his birth took an hour, what an amazing day that was, Bob and I just became parents of a child that one day would become a legend in his own way and a role model for many.
What have I accomplished since Patrick's death?
I feel as I am drowning in the middle of an ocean without shores. I cannot think of myself, my thoughts are not here.
Someone said to me once: "Nadia everything that you do is about Patrick or because of Patrick"
I never had thought of it this way, but it probably has some truth!
Memories…My Darling son has not faded in any way from my vision, my memory, and my emotions. Last week, walking by the wheat crackers section of the supermarket, I suddenly burst into tears, seeing in my minds eye the very last package that we had sent to Camp Anaconda, Patrick never received it... he was killed instead and the package came back to us un-opened from Iraq, never got his "Altama" desert boots either.
The boots forever empty will never be worn and are now on display near his medals and photographs.
On his daily phone call, I remember his words with a heaviness of despair in his voice, asking me if we had sent the package yet. He needed his boots, the old pair was holding with duct tape.
I remember three days after Patrick's death, his house in Tracy, was packed with flowers and people, we happened to be watching a series of digital photographs that the soldiers had send us from Iraq, on the computer with Jeanne (who had babysat for him in Sunnyvale) others were standing behind my chair, suddenly we stared at one-another with tears rolling down our cheeks while we all became speechless the room stood in a perfect still, an heavenly sent of roses filled the room so powerfully, after a moment Silvia shouted: Mom…it's Patrick, he his here with us now…
I remember the day of Patrick's Memorial at Fry's Chapel, hundred's of people came, and many stood outside the chapel. Patrick Junior and Janessa Marie were playing in the chapel and laughing, I finally got a hold of Junior who was nine years old at the time, and talk to him gently explaining and at the same time asking if he understood that it was his father inside the flag draped coffin standing before us and that was not respectful to run inside the place. Junior looked at me and said:
yea grandma but, when is my Daddy coming home?
My jaw dropped, and I understood at this instant that we were heading for a long haul of sad emptiness in our lives…
hot, after briefly talking to the large number of media; we headed back to the
house, while Patrick's body left for his last Home in
She had this marvelous spark in her eyes and smile that she only had in Patrick's presence. I was choking and sobbing, in tears that wouldn't stop, of course only Janessa saw her Daddy, I felt Patrick's powerful and loving self…
There isn't a moment in a day where his presence is not at my side; Patrick is my strength, my motivation, my only reason of still existing.
With his love I made up a fabric of idealistic dreams dictated by his very own.
The main question is:
Is it happening? Is the Dream Happening?
If it is, then why does it seem never to end, the dream, I mean.
The Centers, I can see them, touch them, walk in them; I know that the materialization is near completion, the interest in the efficiency and purpose of the vision itself has become national and even international.
Do I have the power to close the chapter of this project before life exits my body? I am not so sure anymore.
I know that I am at cross-roads where the choice is made available to me. The temptation of letting go is strong, not waking up seems easy enough; my health is degrading on daily basis.
The challenge has become a black wall where I cannot see the top nor the end, I am becoming exhausted, it is hard to breath, it is painful inhaling each breath this body is telling me to hurry up and finish what I have started, I feel like I am literally falling apart and I am not sure that I can reverse the process I need a miracle to stay alive enough time to finish my mission... we will see!
Holding on to life by a thread, I need to keep my vision undisturbed until completion.
On the other end I want to fulfill Patrick's wishes and be the grandma that he wanted me to be.
Yes, but what am I going to do about it?
I feel very proud of my grand children, Junior has come a long way since Patrick's death, every day he acts and looks more like his dad and he is becoming quiet an athlete and a gentleman as well as a peace maker. Once in a while he and I have a serious talk. Patrick would be so proud of him now, and I make a point to tell him that, I also remind Junior that he can do whatever he choose to do in life and stay with it, never quit. Those are some of Patrick last words to Junior. I truly enjoy his company and conversation, he shows a very healthy curiosity of a bright mind.
His Heart is in a very good place, I love him very much.
My little Janessa is still struggling hard, she needs her dad so badly, they were so close to each other.
I remember, when Patrick came home from boot camp, the family came to welcome him in Santa Rosa airport, the soldiers lined up by the airplane and started to walk in our direction there was quiet a distance and before any one of us could see Patrick, Janessa started to climb the wire fence and screaming Daddy Daddy my Daddy, Silvia and I had a bad time holding on to her, she was 2 years old... She eventually run off into the field toward the long line of National guardsmen and women, straight to her Dad, Patrick did the same thing, run off from the orderly walk to pick up Janessa in his strong arms both laughing to tears and holding on tight to each other…it was quiet a site!
And then there is the LION KING.
Patrick and Janessa both were sitting in the master bedroom watching the Lion King, Janessa would watch the Disney feature 5 times (average) daily.
place the night before Patrick left for deployment to
I was listening to their voices thinking sadly that this family joy was coming to an end.
At the part where the Lion King is killed in "an ambush" betrayed by his brother, Janessa grabbed on to her father so hard and made a knot of her little fingers around Patrick's neck almost crying telling him:
"Daddy that's you, Daddy that's you…"
Patrick run to me in the kitchen where Silvia and I were cooking dinner for all of us, and his face was flushed: Mom, do you know what Janessa just told me?
I am not coming back am I Mom?
Of course I said, she is just a baby sweet heart, she doesn't know…but, did Janessa have the knowledge of her Daddy's faith?
After that day Patrick had left his home never to walk trough the door again, it became a tradition for Janessa and I to watch the Lion King on daily basis and every time the film reached the death of the Lion she curled up close to me and keep saying to me" Grandma that's my Daddy…
Her will is strong and her heart is golden, she truly is a gift.
In some ways I am afraid for her she is such a rebel just like I, it make me feel helpless, I know who she is.
Janessa is making so much progress in school now, thank goodness for a great tutor.
Last holiday was the closest of a Christmas we have had since 2004.
We trooped together at Bob's house in Bella Vista with Janessa Marie, Patrick Junior, Silvia and I. It was a delight to watch Patrick's children
re-discovering each other after a much too long separation and Lucky (Patrick's dog) was very joyful to see all of us.
evening we had in
that evening he asked me to get the Medicine Cards and he picked one of the
them, it was the RAVEN, laughing he pointed at his shoulder patch : Mom I am a
Raven! (Patrick was attached to the 81 Brigade from
The card had this words to share "Open yourself to Miracles Use new eyes, Believe in Magic Embrace life's Wonders"
Watching the crows and ravens flying around us, Patrick would laugh and say: If I don't make it back, I will be here watching over all of you, I will be.
Patrick was shot eight times with the cards on his chest.
GOLDSTAR MOTHER * NADIA McCAFFREY * MOTHER IN BLACK * www.veteransvillage.org
* a nonprofit 501c3. Reach Out to
“If the American World Service Corps had existed when
my son were alive, he would have served in that… because he loved kids… and he
would be alive today…”
We owe all our moms another kind of peaceful, productive 21st century AWSC army, so we will need fewer tearfully built Veterans Villages in the future.
American World Service Corps
AWSC summary info http://worldservicecorps.us/peoples%20lobby%20has.htm
People's Lobby www.PeoplesLobby.us
Dwayne Hunn, Executive Director 415-383-7880