When Silence Fell…

I sat down on the floor and stared at the old, dusty bankers box that was sitting in front of me. The box looked worn and the lid no longer fit quite right. I removed the lid to reveal old family files and a lot of old forms that traced my family back for generations. The first file I pulled out had no label on it, but had the most papers in it, so I opened it. It was my dads journal! I start flipping through it and stopped at the page that read, “When Silence Fell.” It was the story about my grandpa. He was missing in a plane crash before I was born. So rather than retell the story, here it is in my dad’s own words…

“The plane refueled at the small airport in Southern Utah. The wind was brisk and the cold seemed to penetrate down to the bone. Refueling complete, final checks made, the two men climbed aboard. After a quick final pre-flight check, the big man looked up at the other and started the engine. As the engine warmed up, they both seemed lost in thought as eyes automatically scanned the instrument panel. A final check for clearance and he slowly taxied the plane to its designated position for take-off. With a thrust of power, the small plane raced down the runway and lifted smoothly into the air. The land seemed to fall away as the plane gained altitude. Finally leveling off, a quick check of the instruments indicated everything was going fine, but the turbulence was much stronger than anticipated. They flew North away from the storm front, gaining altitude, and tried to pull above the worst of the storm before turning South again. With each mile it seemed apparent that they weren’t going to miss the full storm. The small plane was being tossed about without letup and with growing anxiety the men realized that things weren’t going well. The instruments were hard to read and even with seat belts it was difficult to keep from being slammed about the small cabin. As they flew over the mountains the violence of the storm increased and with zero visibility they had to rely on their instruments. Suddenly breaking out of the cloud cover, they saw trees rushing at them. Almost by reflex, the big man reached forward and secured the power, as the terrible noise touched his ears.

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  The U.S.S. Agerholm, (DD-826), was moored pier side at Yokosuka Ship Repair Facility, Yokosuka, Japan, As a Boilerman Third Class, I didn’t always get the best jobs, and today I had to climb up onto the steam lines over the No. 1 Boiler, to wash soot off of the lines.We were feeling pretty frisky thinking of liberty that evening and were throwing soapy sponges at each other, as we joked and horsed around, and even accomplished a little work. Somebody yelled down the hatch, “Hey Below! Is Halsey down there?” “Yah, whatcha want?” “They want you topside. You’re supposed to see the Executive Officer.” I went topside and found the X.O. in his stateroom. “Here,” he said. We just received this message from the Red Cross.” I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read the message. It said dad’s plane was missing. He had refueled in Southern Utah, then headed for an overnight stop on Las Vegas. He never arrived in Las Vegas. Search planes were sent out. Would I please come home. I took emergency leave and flew back to the United States. Uncle Cleo had gone to Southern Utah and was finishing up the ground search and investigation. He investigated reports of people hearing plane that sounded in trouble during the big storm. Nothing. The air search extended all the way down to Lake Mead, but nothing was found. The plane had just simply vanished. There was even speculation in the newspapers that he may have left the country for some reason. These were sad days. Irene was a tremendous help. We were kind-of semi engaged at the time. Her mother said she had to date other guys while I was away, but when I was in town, Irene and I spent all available time together.

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The hunter was mad. How could he become separated from his friends so easily was beyond him. Here it was, the day before Halloween and he was lost in the woods. He’d never hear the end of this one. He stopped and fired 3 more shots and listened. Just the sound of the wind, nothing more. What made it really bad was the growth and vegetation here on the mountain. It was so thick here that travel was slow at best. Finally, weary from walking, he sat down for a short rest. As he sat there he tried to picture the terrain in his mind. He was sure he was on the right course to get out, but why was the undergrowth getting thicker? Looking off to his left he thought he saw something. Moving to a better position, he saw what looked like a wing from a plane. Moving closer, he saw that it really was a wing. It looked like the plane had plunged into the growth of trees, snapping several off and coming to rest atop the toppled trees. A large limb had fallen across the top of the plane, leaving the plane positioned in such a way that it sat there gently rocking from the motion of the breeze. The wreck looked old. The lost hunter thought he’d climb up and look it over and see what might be inside. “Strange the plane rocking in the wind like that, ” he thought. The plane’s back was broken, the fuselage looked bent. Climbing up to the cockpit, he looked inside and froze. Adrenaline shot into his veins and his face lost color. There were 2 skeletons in the plane. After having momentarily froze, he finally was able to move. He scrambled down and raced away, the thick vegetation tearing at his clothes and slowing his pace. As the vegetation thinned he ran and ran, stumbling in his haste. Suddenly he broke into a clearing and saw his friends. Almost incoherent, he tried to tell them what had happened. When they finally understood, they wanted to be shown where. He refused and started running for the horses. His friends took their bearings and estimated the location of the plane. Then they got their horses and followed their friend to where the trucks and horse trailers were parked, and prepared to return to town to report what their friend had seen.

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She stood there humming to herself. Two months had passed since his ship had left for the Far East. He was aboard the U.S.S. Wadell, (DDG-24), a Guided Missile Destroyer. The phone rang and she lifted the receiver. “Hello?” “Hello, Mrs. Halsey?” the voice said. “Yes.” “This is the St George, Utah, Sheriff’s Office Calling. A plane has been found that we believe was your husbands fathers.” This started a chain of events that led to another Red Cross telegram to me (Larry). It was November 2, 1976. I was in Sidney, Australia this time. I went on emergency leave again, but there was a 2 day delay. The plane I was to leave on was an Air Force C-141, but we were delayed with electronic difficulties and had to wait for a part to arrive from the Philippines. In the mean time, Irene and my two sisters, Gloria and Diane, went to St. George to claim the body that had by now been positively identified as my fathers. Irene dove our 1972 Chevrolet Kingswood Station Wagon. Not having much money between them, the three women obtained permission, and permits, to transport the body themselves. They had the shipping casket loaded into the back of the station wagon and headed North with dad. They said they felt a special peace and joy as they traveled North and sang many songs along the way. When they arrived in Logan, Utah, they parked over night at Irene’s grandmother’s house. The next morning they had car trouble so they took the wagon to the local Chevy dealer. The repair people looked at the load in the back with questioning looks in their eyes. Irene and Diane left Utah (Gloria lived near Logan) through Idaho, Oregon, and into Washington. As they traveled, they still felt that peace. Something special was happening. After 13 years, dad was finally going to rest, and his last trip was with them. Tears of love and happiness sparkled in their eyes, as like pioneer women of old, they took the family patriarch to his early resting place. I arrived in Washington right after they did. Dad’s funeral service was held in Washougal, Washington, and he was buried in the neighboring town of Camas. TV reporters were there from Salt Lake City following the story. I wore my uniform and the local American Legion Drill Team provided a firing squad, for the graveside service salute. As the grave was dedicated by Bishop Mason Smith, I looked at the coffin and was astonished to see it quiver. I thought I was seeing things. Maybe it was the wind. Almost like a voice inside, I felt, “All is well.”  The year was 1963, and when the silence fell for Wallace C. Halsey, it was complete.

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The above story was put together from eye witness accounts, news clips and speculation. One strange thing I did not mention in the story, is that the rescue team reported that dads watch was running when they went to retrieve the body. It was a waterproof, self winding watch, and the plane rocked and bounced enough that sometimes it would start ticking. The Federal Aviation Administration investigation revealed that for some reason, the planes power had been secured just prior to impact. Possibly done in hopes it might avert a fire during the crash. It was speculated that one of the reasons the plane did to burn was because it never touched the ground, and hot engine parts never came into contact with the spilled fuel. Dad was traveling with his friend, the manager of the Seal Beach Airport, in Southern California.  Larry Burgess Halsey.

What Matters Most

    Once upon a time, there was this guy and this girl who fell in love. As most happy endings go they were married and both were starting new careers. They soon found out that they were expecting their first baby.  The big day came and it was a boy! Happy Birthday little man! This baby boy was perfect! He was handsome, smart, active, and a quick learner. His parents could only dream of how far he could go in life!
     Then one day, before he turned 2, he came down with the flu for the first time. After about a week, he was still sick so his mom took him to the doctor like all new moms would. The doctor assured her it was just a bad virus going around and it could take as little as another day, or as long as 6-8 weeks to run its course but to keep in touch to make sure he gets better.
     8 weeks have come and gone, along with multiple doctors visits, and their perfect little boy was still sick. They took him back to the doctor who insisted it was another virus and wouldn’t even poke his finger to check his blood, even though their son no longer had the energy to play, sit up or even eat. The next morning, when his mom woke him up, his tummy was so large that he looked like a 2 year old who was 9 months pregnant. So his mom took him to another doctor, who sent them straight to a hospital to meet a pediatric surgeon for a CT Scan.
     In less than an hour their world came crashing down. During the test, the surgeon pulled them in to watch the scan and told them, your son has cancer. To him it looked like a very common cancer but worse case, this cancer does have a n “evil twin.” He was scheduled for immediate surgery where chemo would start while still in the O.R. The tumor had grown so much in the last 72 hours that all of their sons organs were crammed on the right side of his body. The tumor had taken over the left.
     The massive tumor was removed and sections were overnighted to multiple labs, including the American Cancer Society and a renowned doctor in England. Within 2 days, they had all come to the same conclusion. It was the “evil twin.” Not only did their son have cancer, but there are no known survivors of his cancer. That’s when the doctors told the little boys parents that the American cancer society had just come out with a new protocol of chemo treatments to try for his cancer type and asked if they would be willing to let them try it on their son, in hopes of saving him. From everything they could find, this protocol was the only hope that their son would live.
     There were a couple of nights they were told their son might not wake up or be with them in the morning. But he fought. They fought. Today, their perfect little boy is 23 years old and is going to school to be a radiologist. Because of the advancements in research through the American Cancer Society, their son lived. How do I know? Because this is my story. The little boy is my son.
     While most of the details have been left out of this version of the story, the most important question I could ask myself is this, “What have I learned?” I learned what really matters. I learned that life is too precious to waste on things that don’t matter. I learned what faith, hope and love really means, I learned who my friends really are. And I learned that family really is everything.
To quote Stuart Scott – A world renown sportscaster and ESPN SportsCenter Anchor…
“You beat cancer by how you lived, why you lived and in the manner in which you lived.
So Live. Fight like hell.
And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”
Cherish the life you have been given and love with all of your heart. Peace is found in the journey.
Dawn

Coming Home

Have you ever been on a business trip and learned more about yourself from traveling than from the actual seminar? Or maybe you learned just as much on the way there as you did from the event. This happened to me. Let me explain…

I had been in Phoenix for a seminar with a co-worker. The seminar had just wrapped up so I had requested an Uber car to pick us up. As we were enjoying the warmth of the sun while waiting outside, other seminar attendees were being pickup up by Uber in Mercedes, limo’s, you name it. Then a 4 door Honda pulls up to take us to the airport. While we were getting raised eyebrows and snickers from those people, this is what we were thinking…

This trip is not on our dime. Why would we splurge with the Doctor’s money when we wouldn’t do that if we were paying for the trip. That didn’t feel right to us so we didn’t do it, and we didn’t think twice about it either. It actually made me question the integrity of these other offices.

After arriving at the airport and getting through security, we stopped in one of the shops to get some snacks and water for our flight. We find what we need and I’m the first one to walk up to the counter. The woman at the counter was leaning forward on her elbows, completely engrossed on her cell phone. To politely get her attention I walk up to the counter and say, “Your hair is fantastic! I love the color!” No response. Not even a twitch. So I place my water and cashews on the counter and say, “Hi!” Still nothing.

At this point my co-worker is now standing next to me and a line is forming. We look at each other, totally surprised at this woman and I decide to try again. This time I grab my heavy purse and loudly plop it onto the counter, acting like I’m getting my wallet and say, “Is everything ok?” This time she almost looked at me after she rolled her eyes, pursed her lips, straightened up and rang up my items, like she was mad at the world.

It was obvious that she did not want to be there. But she was ignoring us, not wanting to talk so we moved on. While we were waiting to board I had written her a note and was debating if I should run it back over to her. We had 5 minutes until we were supposed to start boarding so I excused myself to run and use the restroom, but instead hurried back over to the store. She was back in her normal position on her elbows, ignoring the person standing in front of her. So I slip the note under her phone where I knew she could see it, said “I hope this brightens your day,” and then hurried back over to the line to start boarding our plane.

I don’t know if she ever read the note, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is I gave it to her .When was the last time you told someone how amazing they are and how grateful you are for them? I believe if we did more of that instead of criticizing, this world would be even more beautiful than it already is. So think about it. How can you change someone’s day?

Until next time,

I hope you all have a beautiful day!

Dawn

 

 

Creating a photo journal

If you’ve have read my “About” page, then you know I love pictures. I love to take them of people, things, events, everything that I want to remember or what’s important to me. The down fall to that is because I’ve always been the one to take pictures, I’m rarely in them. If pictures are taken it’s because I took them.

When it really started to bother me, is looking back at places we’ve gone and things we’ve done with our boys, if you didn’t know they had a mom in the picture, you wouldn’t think they had one! That seriously broke my heart. The really sad part about that is our oldest son is 23 years old. So many years with hardly a photo with me in it.

So here I am, all of these years later trying to figure out a way to fix that. I’ve been into digital scrapbooking but that didn’t fix the problem. I feel like my life’s story was literally slipping away with no documented legacy to leave behind.

I decided I needed to follow some daily prompts to help get my wheels spinning. There are so many different lists out there so I did my homework. This is the site that had the monthly lists that work for me. Capture Your 365. I may not stick to the words everyday, but that’s ok. The point is I’m taking pictures and it’s about me. I’m going to leave behind a legacy of love, hope and faith for my kids and future grandkids.

Now that you know what I’m up to, what’s your story? I believe we are all here for a reason, so why not show that you’ve left a mark on this world! So what do you think? Try it out with me!

Until next time,

Have a beautiful day!

Dawn

Habit or addiction?

Whenever I see a cup off coffee I start humming the tune to a commercial, which I find completely hysterical because I don’t drink coffee. That’s right. I’m one of those crazy people who does her best to not be bound by addictions, even one as simple as drinking coffee.

But have you really ever thought about it? Do you have to have some coffee in order to wakeup enough to produce a legible thought? Or to calm your mood so that your family doesn’t disown you?

I promised myself as a teenager that I would never let anything have that much control over me. And I’m attempting to stick to it! But let’s be honest… I’m a constant work in progress. The good news is, I haven’t quit!

Then there’s the question; can a habit become an addiction? Yes! From my life experiences, this is the difference: Anything that is done out of habit that is good for you, your goals, and what matters most to you, is something you should always be working on! When the habit starts to interfere with any of those things and/or becomes a crutch in any way, it’s turning into an addiction. Does that make sense?

So what about you? Do you have an addiction that you need to conquer? Shopping, food…  really, it could be anything!

Now once you’ve identified it, how do you conquer the addiction? You have to want to let it go bad enough to set goals and do them. Intentional action is the key. Without it, the addiction wins.

What’s my addiction? Honestly, I’m sure I have some totally off the wall addiction with something and don’t even realize it. So, I’ve decided to figure it out! I’m sure there will be some blog post about it in the future.

Until next time,

Look in the mirror, tell yourself you’re awesome and decide to have a beautiful day!

Dawn