Monday, June 2, 2008

Our first hospital visit March 2006

From the very first moment our brave young men and women became involved in the war, Eddie wanted to "do something" to help. But what? Even if he weren't injured he is past the age of re-enlisting...though some warriors I was writing to in 1st Battalion, 4th Marines told me to "send him over....and we will weld a machine gun to his chair and take him with us". If he could have gotten away with it, I think he would have gone! But that was not to be...

THEN...what else could be done? I had managed to to find a contact with the Marine Corps League in the Washington DC area. I sent them a book AND then doors began to open leading us toward a visit to Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals. When I was a young girl it was no problem for me to visit at the Navy hospital in California where I would meet Eddie; but today that is not so. It is difficult to get in. But Eddie's book Lucky Enough helped open those doors and in March of 2006 we were headed to DC.

We met with the Chaplain of the local Marine Corps League, Lou Stavely. He took us to both Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals where we were able to visit our injured troops and give them a copy of Eddie's book.

At Walter Reed we went to the Occupational therapy room for a Pizza Party! Eddie was able to speak to a room full of young men and women...he told his story...our story. I was sitting across from one young man who had lost an arm and a leg. When Eddie told the group that he had met me while in the Naval hospital...AFTER he was injured AND we'd been married going on 40 years! His young face lit up like a Christmas tree! I could just imagine him thinking "I can still get a girl friend!" After speaking Eddie gave each one a book and talked with them individually....of course by then we had eaten all the pizza and none was left for him!

As we were leaving the occupational therapy room Lou said there was a young Marine he wanted Eddie to meet. He hadn't made it to the pizza party. As we neared his room we met his mother sitting in the hallway. We talked with her a while...when one of our warriors is injured it also affects everyone they know. How does a mother deal with seeing her son injured? I remember Eddie telling me that when his mother came to visit him in the hospital when she was purchasing some things for him she picked up some socks...then cried...he didn't have any feet for socks!

Then we went into Travis' room. Traumatic injury takes such a toll. When I saw him, I thought of the first time I had seen thin... He was a polite young man and Eddie began to visit with him. As they talked they learned they had much in common; both just 19 when they lost both legs, both liked running, both were VERY independent young men...and Travis seemed to want to know more about driving as Eddie told him how a car could be fixed like ours. (Later I would see even more similarities between the two...and Travis has become very dear to us. I am not sure he quite understands just how glad we are to be able to follow his progress as he starts the journey Eddie has been traveling since 1965.)

When we left his room we eventually ended up at Physical Therapy. I couldn't help but smile when I saw Travis there exercising!

Keep "tuning in", his name will come up again! His story continues. I am so very thankful that we have been able to keep in touch with him. He reminds me of a young Eddie and I see so much in his future!

Connie Beesley

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