Thanks to the Moms
Thanksgiving Day, 2008
By many definitions I am what is called a mama's boy.
It’s true. And I thank my lucky stars every year for being able to have two fantastic moms!
For a son, above all other role models, mamas should always be number one!
There are a multitude of reasons why I work with the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) or enlisted in the Peace Corps and Military for that matter. It’s natural for sons to leave the nest to discover the world for ourselves and though each walkabout differs, it seems we are all similarly wandering with the instinctive drive to make our mothers proud.
If its not then it should be! Maybe it explains the irrationality for those who start our wars; do they no longer care what their mother would think?
I’m thirty years old and have had an enriched life traveling extensively around the world sharing many a home cooked meals with mama's of all different shapes, shades, culinary skills, and opinions. Mothers are the backbone to any culture and maintain the balance in our communities. When mothers watch their children grow strong, healthy, and happy, a nation flourishes. But when mothers begin to lose their sons and daughters to war, hunger, or disaster then a broken mother’s heart can easily tear the cohesive fabric that binds our cultures and communities together.
Mothers are every sons personal Virgil here to guide us through life. Without mothers to steer us through the tempests, triumphs and failures our compasses are directionless without knowing the gift of unconditional love. It’s what makes us become whole.
But what happens to the guide who loses their voyager along the way?
How does a mother cope with losing what means the most to them?
Does the despair of losing a loved one ever wane?
I am childless. This pain is beyond my comprehension.
On November 15th the FVC hosted our second benefit dinner. This time it was at Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport, North of Santa Cruz. The event was filled with farmers, veterans, community members, and lastly Gold Star Mothers. During the event I spent most of the night learning of these challenges from mothers who are sustaining after losing a child in the wars of Iraq or Afghanistan. Each loss is shattering, but how each mother responded to their loss is truly inspirational and emboldens my determination to do my part to honor my fallen friends, and support other mothers sons and daughters returning home.
Listed below are brief glimpses into each mother’s journey.
After the death of her son Mary Tillman, mother of famed athlete Pat Tillman has spent every opportunity to uncover the truth surrounding her son's death and has exposed the despicable behavior, and the blundering that the Bush Administration, military, and Pentagon employed to use his life and death for their propaganda advantage . Mary is a gracious woman whom I completely admire for her courage and undoubtedly inspiring many other mothers, wives, and family members to seek out the truth behind the many deaths of our nation's fallen sons and daughters. Mary has recently released a book dedicated to her fallen son titled "Boots on the Ground by Dusk". It is a powerful account of a mother’s journey dealing with the difficulty of losing a son, and celebrating a vibrant life.
Nadia McCaffrey, founder of the Veterans Village, also lost her son Patrick during a patrol in Iraq when the American trained and armed Iraqi security forces turned their weapons against him. Nadia, a native of Bordeaux, France, has used her energy in developing a national network of centers where returning veterans can decompress, heal, and find ways to live after war. Currently Nadia is working to open two new centers within the year one in New York and the other in Minnesota. The center is Minnesota is a former school campus that will be transformed into an off the grid community with the intent to use farmers from our organization to provide training and healthy food for its residents.
Dolores Kesterson came to our dinner on the third anniversary of losing her son Erik in Mosul, Iraq when two Blackhawk helicopters collided, killing many of the service members. Afterward Delores had an opportunity to meet President Bush individually while he was meeting victims’ families. From her accounts Bush knew she was not going to be a friendly picture frame opportunity so instead he came at her immediately arrogant, confrontational, and without remorse for her loss. I highly recommend googling Delores and researching her story.
Lastly, Donna Jacobs is a mother who has not lost her son in war but is preparing to say good bye once again as he deploys for this 3rd combat tour at the end of the month to Afghanistan. Donna has been a tidal force in the Santa Cruz area since becoming involved with veteran’s services. She has started an organization called "Not This Time Vets" and was instrumental in bringing Farms Not Arms together with Veterans groups and veterans advocates to help us form a politically neutral group called the Farmer-Veteran Coalition.
My military experience was confusing. First they taught me how to take a human life, but then as a medic working in VA hospitals they helped me realize I had a gift to compassionately help individuals medically with my hands and my heart. I've never seen war, and though I excelled in the military I eventually quit and never looked back. Sworn to a new mission my objective has been to learn how wage peace by living fully, traveling extensively, and loving wastefully.
I will always cherish my mother’s very clear lessons. Be kind, make friends, and if, "IF", you have to fight you do it for the right reasons.
This is what I think all of my adopted mothers from around the world would want me to do.
Be in peace and eat good food.