Thursday, August 16, 2012

Eastern Ways Martial Arts

Anyone who knows me, even those who encounter me briefly, knows my affiliation and love for martial arts.  I’ve been practicing kung fu for 12 ½ years.  That’s a serious commitment.  But I’ve never posted about it on my blog – it seemed redundant.   I mean, I talk about it all the time to everyone around me so I thought, hey, I don’t want people running the other direction when they see me coming.  But recently I’ve had a string of things happen to me.  You know – Life.  That chaotic period where every problem you encounter is insurmountable.  To make matters worse, they all came at once.  Or so it seemed.  Loss of work.   Car problems.  Money problems.  I couldn’t recoup from one problem before another one was there staring me in the face.  Then my Father became very, very ill and I knew I needed to fly home. 
When you have problems, really serious problems, that’s when you find out who your real friends are.  Those who don’t want to deal with sorrow and life’s troubles will disappear off your radar.  Those who are committed to you will be on your doorstep offering whatever it takes to help.  And that is how I discovered just what the people at Eastern Ways Martial Arts are made of. 

I’ve been very blessed to have wonderful people around me – for most of my life.  But sometimes there are those who just go “above and beyond” in their dedication to make you feel the top of the world. 
Who let you know, no matter how awful things get, they will be pulling for you.  And if you fall, they’ll be there to catch you.  I don’t know what I’ve done to have such wonderful people in my life, but I have certainly been blessed.

There is one person in particular that I would like to make a special thanks – and that’s to Tai Simo Molina.  She is a giver – from thoughtful birthday and Christmas presents to “just because” gifts purchased with your needs in mind.  But the greatest gift is her heart.  Throughout the years she’s been a rock and foundation of compassion.  She celebrates your accomplishments and, when the chips are down, is there to listen with great empathy and love.  To hold your hand when you cry.  To tell you that you are worth something and to never give up on your dreams.  She makes you believe in yourself when all your world is crumbling in around you and, through her energetic support, you begin to believe that you can shake off your troubles and rise again.  That is a real and true gift and the worth of that goes beyond measure.
Does it sound like I’m sucking up?  Maybe.  But I don’t give a damn.  Goodness should be recognized and praised.  Compassion should be held above ego and gold.  So much of our world has become a regular diet of doom and despair.  Shootings.  Stabbings.  Murder.  Rape.  I hate turning on the news.  But people seem to delight in drama.  I don’t understand it.  I would rather elevate goodness, compassion, true understanding.  To live in a world that recognizes and promotes these things.  Maybe that sounds idealistic and unrealistic.  But I say, if I don’t embrace these ideas, who will?  If I don’t make my world, who is?  We are what we believe we are. 

So – to all the Instructors, to Tai Sifu, and especially to Tai Simo – thank you for supporting me and believing in me throughout these years.  You matter.  You make a difference.  What finer thing in the world is that?

The Salute

Many things touched me and left impressions in my mind on the day my Father was buried.  I am always struck by the seemingly small things that are enormous in scope.  A funeral is just a surreal experience.  People are talking in hushed voices, with questions, tears, sorrowful looks, but it all seems like it’s happening to someone else – not you.  Mom and I are in the car behind the hearse.  A procession begins across the rain-soaked town as grey clouds threaten to rain out another day.  I try to count the cars but lose track as curves block my view.  Police fly past us, lights flashing, as they stop traffic.  We have something here in Florida I find endearing – people stop their cars for a funeral procession.  Police block intersections.  Traffic stops all around as people pay respect for the dead and for the families.  It is quite moving – and the first time since Dad died that I felt anything. 

When we arrived at NAS, the military MP’s came to attention and saluted.  The police, who had given us escort, were out of their cars, also saluted as we passed.  I was touched.  Of course I knew, realistically, they were doing their jobs – they are supposed to salute.  But as we passed the golf course on the way to the cemetery, two older gentlemen golfers stopped their game, came to attention, and saluted.  No one was paying them.  They had no idea who was in that hearse; they were having a fine day of golf.  Yet they stopped to salute.  It still brings a lump in my throat.  What a simple gesture.  That meant so much. 
Now when I think of my Father’s funeral – that is the image that lingers with me.  What a great memory to hold.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Corry Field Mystery

We stumble out of bed in the morning, slurp a cup of hot coffee, and hit the road blurry-eyed and groggy.  We drive down the same old road, past the same old buildings day in and day out.  Most days we’re either too sleepy or too focused on the day’s projects to notice the scenery as it whizzes by us.  But sometimes, for some unexplained reason, we wake up and see.  And what we see makes us wonder.  Like how have we passed this way every day and not notice – well – everything?  It makes us wonder like a kid wonders.  Why?  How?

I had a moment like that recently.  Actually, it was my Mom who woke me up and made me notice.  Made me wonder.  At the intersection of Hwy 98 and Veteran’s Way in Pensacola, FL, in a swampy, mosquito-ridden tangle of woods and vines lay three weather beaten columns.  They’re just twenty feet or so off the highway.  There’s something regal and majestic about them.  An air of American pride.  Of history.  But now they stand forgotten.  No one notices their carved columns; their classic styling.  No one knows their proud history.  They are overgrown and ignored. 
The columns, I believe, were a part of the runway lighting on Corry Station – the air field that opened here off Hwy. 98 in July 1927 in response to an ever-growing need for landing strips for the Navy.  I was curious so of course I Googled it.  According to “The Hook Magazine” there were two Corry stations.  Which surprised me.  The first was created in July 1922 and was not much more than a green pasture with cows that had to be shooed away before the planes could land.  There were no photos I could find on that first airfield but plenty on the current location.  The website provided a number of old black and white photos, but none of them showed the columns.  Maybe the columns weren’t for landing lights at all.  What else might they be?  I certainly would like to know. 

Every time I drive by them now, I look and wonder.  Day by day they are slowly fading into the woods.  Soon their mystery will be swallowed by greenery.  It makes me sad.  Does anyone know what these stately old columns are?  Were they actually used on Corry Field?  Would Corry Station allot money to restore the columns and create a space around the columns so people could stop and see them?  Put lights back on the top?  That would be cool.  Or put up a plaque that gives the history of the columns and Corry?  If Corry couldn’t do it, would the Pensacola Navy Museum be willing to relocate these columns to the museum?  Is there some military agency that works to restore and preserve military history?  If there’s anyone with knowledge about these columns or knows who might be interested in preserving them, please feel free to reply here.  Pensacola has a very proud and long Naval history and these columns would be a great addition.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Donations in Honor of My Father

Many people have asked what they can do for my Mom or if they should send flowers - Mom has asked if people would like to donate to one of these organizations.  Covenant Hospice is the service we used when Dad became really ill and they are just angels.  I don't say that lightly. 

The other organization is run by a wonderful lady who helps injured and sick - or sometimes misplaced - wild animals.  Mom, Dad, and i used to go there all the time.

Covenant Hospice
2001 N. Palafox Street
Pensacola, FL  32501
(850) 433-8097

Wildlife Sanctuary of NW Florida Inc.
105 North S Street
Pensacola, FL  32505
(850) 433-9453

Thank you in advance for everything people have done for us.  You are beautiful!  I mean it!