Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Brothers Love


War, is never easy nor without great cost for those who serve and their families. In 1967, both of my brothers were in Vietnam. Mike, the youngest of my brothers, had joined the Marines rather than waiting to be drafted. My older brother Bill re-enlisted to serve, not so much country as to watch out for our younger brother Mike.

 

It all began early one spring morning in 1967, when my parents received a telegram from the state department, which reported that my younger brother Michael was missing in action in Vietnam. Another telegram stating that Mike had been located, but was in critical condition followed this. Shortly thereafter, a Marine officer and a chaplain arrived on my parent’s doorstep to inform us that Mike had perished from his wounds.

 

For the next twenty-four hours, our world was turned upside down. The phone lines across the country began buzzing with the news and the need to make arrangements to fly home. My oldest brother Bill was in College Station, Texas attending Texas A & M University. Bill had served his time in the Marines and was in his second year working on his degree to become an Engineer. Early the following day, my parents received a call from Japan. A call which was from my brother Mike, stating that his death was a clerical error and that he was very much alive and on the mend. He would soon be returning to the war front, when his wounds healed.

 

It was at this point that my older brother Bill decided to put college on hold and rejoin the Marines. He asked for duty in Vietnam to be with my younger brother Mike. His hope was to convince Mike to file for a transfer under the Sullivan ruling. A ruling which, allows military family members to ask for relief from hazardous duty if more than one family member is serving in the War zone.

 

Bill wanted Mike in a safer place- out of harms way- while he served in Vietnam himself. Bill had always looked out for his younger siblings, and he was determined to do so again. Of course, Mike would have no part of it. He was determined to stay the course and finish his tour of duty. Even though Bill could not persuade Mike to leave Nam, Bill decided to go forward with his re-enlistment so that they could at least be close to one another and he could watch out for our younger brother Mike.

 

The last thing my father did on the day Bill was to leave for retraining was to make sure Bill was wearing his Sacred Heart Badge. My parents had always had a special devotion to the “Sacred Heart of Christ.” They had all of us children consecrated when we were still babies. As a family tradition, we all attended the Mass in honor of the “First Friday Devotions” that were given to Saint Margaret Mary Aloque.

 

Dad handed Bill his own Sacred Heart Badge just before Bill walked out the door and said: “Son, it might not stop a bullet, but it can keep you safe along the way. Just remember, it is only as good as the faith you put with it. If you wear it as a scrap of material and you don’t follow Christ, it will be no help at all. Remember what is important…”Trust Christ” and follow Him. He will get you safely home. That is all the protection you really need.”  With that last bit of spiritual advice from my father, Bill left for boot camp wearing his Banner of Christ, Dad’s “Sacred Heart Badge.”

 

 

 

After retraining Bill landed in Vietnam on August the 21st. Sadly, the very day that Bill arrived in Vietnam, our brother Mike was again wounded and this time his wounds were much more serious. A land mine struck his amphibious mobile unit and Mike was badly burned in the explosion. Bill managed to track Mike down in a hospital in Dong Hoa within a couple of days of his arrival.  Unfortunately, because Mike’s wounds were serious and infection was a danger, Bill was not allowed in to see Mike before the Medic’s transported Mike for treatment. All Bill could do was stand outside Mike’s room and say a quick prayer for Mike’s recovery and then report for his own duty station in Da Nang.

 

 

In order not to worry the rest of us, Bill wrote letters home telling us that he was assigned to an officer in Da Nang as a clerk. He jokingly referred to his great quest to serve as being reduced to shuffling papers. That was our Bill –always protecting others from worry or fear. His ploy worked, and we believed that he was fairly safe in Da Nang. We focused our worry and prayers on our little brother Mike and his need for healing and support during his recovery. Bill seemed to be safe and we were grateful for that. All that would soon change in an instant.

 

On September the 28th, the Marines again paid a visit to my parent’s home. This time there would be no follow-up phone call saying that it was a mistake. The Marines reported that on September 21st, while on patrol, Bill’s entire unit was caught in an ambush. They were trapped in a crossfire of rocket and mortar fire. Bill managed to survive long enough for another unit to find him. Bill had received the last rites and was able to make his last confession before he expired from his wounds. Bill’s Sacred Heart Badge was enclosed with the letter.

 

Even deep in the Jungles of Vietnam… “Christ kept His Sacred Heart Promise and came to take our Bill safely home.
 I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."


John 15:12,13 " Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Post script. Many years after I wrote this story I was tracked down by 2/4 Marines who survived the attack and it's wonderful to be part of their lives

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Loathing at First Sight

September 5th would have been our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Miss my wonderful Gene especially at this time of year. This story was published in Chicken Soup "True Love" in 2009


Looking at our wedding pictures always makes me giggle. I recall the young man that my brother brought home to dinner one night well over 47 years ago. It was not what one could call love at first sight. It was more like loathing at first sight. The first time I had met him was a few weeks earlier. It all began with a phone call to my high school principles office. I was a senior in High School at the time. I worked after schools at a local restaurant, as part of our school work credit program. 
This particular day, I was not scheduled to work, but Mrs. K (the owner) had called and left a message with the office that I would have to take another waitress’s place. Mrs. K was not the nicest person in the world to work for to say the least. She never asked if I was available, she just said in her message to “be there at 4:00 PM.” Since not showing up would affect my grades for graduation, there was no way I could wiggle out of the unplanned shift.   In those days, we had no cell phones, so in an emergency you had to use a payphone, if you could find one. My mother was quite the task master herself, and I found myself caught in a bit of a pickle. My mother expected me to be home immediately after school, to start dinner for our family. I tried to call my Mom at her work place, from the school office to tell her of the change in plans but was not able to reach her. Unfortunately there was no such technology as voice mail in those days. There was no way my Mom would just let it slide if she did not know of the change in my work schedule. I could count on being grounded no matter how good the excuse was, if I did not get my message through to her. All of these circumstances set up a meeting which would change the course of my life.

I had to stop for gas to make it to work and try to call her again from the gas station. Mrs. K never allowed employees to use the phone while on duty and I knew she would not budge on her rules, even though she was the one who had created the situation. Rushing out of school, I careened out of the parking lot as fast as my old “49” Ford would travel, praying the “E” for empty meant I had enough gas fumes to make it to the filling station. For emergencies, my Dad had an account at the local Shell station, where I could sign for gas, and Ed (the owner), would bill my Dad later.

Breathing a sigh of relieve, that I had made it to the Shell station without running out of gas on the roadside, I was surprised to see a total stranger running the gas station instead of Ed. The young man was quite a flirt, and took his time putting the gas in the tank, washing the windshield, checking the oil etc. I tried my best to get the young man to just put the gas in the tank and forget the other routine services, but he just kept on trying to impress me. I tried to be polite, but flirting with a strange guy was the last thing on my mind. He was seriously threatening my job and my big date for the Sweetheart dance the following day if I got grounded. After wasting several precious minutes filling the tank and trying to gain my interest, I finally told him: “Look sir, I am in a big hurry. I have to get to work. Now please put the gas on my Dads credit line in Ed’s book.” Naturally this lead to more delays as he insisted he had no idea where such a book would be or how to do it, so I had to go inside and find it behind the counter for him. I was beginning to think he wasn’t very bright. It was a red ledger, exactly where I told him he would find it, right beside the cash register.

My next big mistake was in asking him to give me a dime for the payphone, and put that on the ledger charge too. Good grief! He then began to lecture me about taking money from a stranger and other various nonsense. By that time I was furious and stomped out hurrying to get to work, and decided to try and talk Mrs. K into letting me use the phone at work. Naturally, with all the time wasted at the filling station, I was late to work and Mrs. K refused my request to use the phone. Not only that she also said I had to stay late and do clean up duty to boot. By the time I got home at mid-night my mom was fit to be tied and as I had feared I was “GROUNDED.” At this point I felt my whole world caved in all because of a rude stranger who had ruined my life. I hoped I never would lay eyes on him again.
 As luck would have it, a few weeks later, my Mom called me at school and asked me to pick up an extra pound of hamburger as we were having a guest for dinner. Sounded normal to me, so I was totally un-prepared that evening when my brother walked in the door with his new friend named Gene that he had met at the gas station. I wanted to hide in the kitchen as I was still so angry at him, but manners precluded my doing so. My mother would not allow it.
By the time the meal was over, the young man apologized for all the trouble he had caused me and he became a regular visitor in our home. When time for the Prom came, my boyfriend and I had broken up, so Gene offered to be my date. From there a loathing at first sight became a love story which resulted in 41 very happy years of marriage and three beautiful children. Obviously, I decided he wasn’t so bad after all.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Cat with Nine Lives


Pepper’s Funeral

Several years ago I decided to make a trip to the country to visit my friend Mary. Her kids and mine were going to have a play date while Mary and I spent the day visiting and enjoying each other’s company. Soon after we arrived, Mary went to check on her cat Pepper who had gone out earlier in the day and never returned. It was not at all like her cat to wander away for a half day without food or water breaks. We decided to get in the car and drive around the country side looking for Pepper.

Up one lane and down another we drove for over an hour when suddenly we spotted Pepper lying in the road. It was obvious the cat had died from the impact of being hit by a car. Luckily the cat wasn’t obviously bloody; it had just died from the accident we surmised.  The kids were beside themselves with grief.

 As we tried to comfort them I suggested we gather up the dead cat and have a proper burial for it. It was going to be one of those teachable moments when the children would learn to grieve and yet celebrate life. In this case the life of Pepper the cat and the joy she had brought to them throughout the years.

We got the kids involved in finding a proper casket…in this case a box that Mary had on hand. We gave them crayons and markers to make the box look pretty and found some old material to line it with. Then we had them make out invitations to deliver to the neighborhood children for the funeral and luncheon we would have the next day. It kept the kids busy and made them feel a little better about Pepper’s demise.

Mary’s husband Dave went into the back yard when he got home and dug a proper hole for the funeral and burial of Pepper. The rest of us dispersed to the neighbors to tell them Pepper had died and invite them to the funeral and luncheon with their children.

The next day I and my children again made the trip to Mary’s house for Peppers funeral. Several neighbors had come and so we all solemnly processed out to the backyard with the kids acting as pall bearers. Dave gave a wonderful eulogy about the life and times of Pepper and all she had meant to them as a family. Each of the children placed a flower on the grave and then we went into the house to have a nice funeral luncheon which the children had prepared. Ok. so it was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but we all ate and acted like it was a feast in honor of Pepper the cat.

By the time we had finished our luncheon I decided it was time for me and my brood to gather up our belongings and head home again. Offering my condolences for the final time I opened the door to leave and almost tripped over a cat that came racing into the house and jumped right into Peppers bed. Miracles of miracles Pepper was not dead. But we never did find out whose cat we had buried.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Venerable Don Carlo Gnocchi




I finally broke down and bought a new DVD player. The time had come to retire my old worn out VCR. The problem was I had no DVD’s to play on it, which of course lead to buying some movies. K-Mart of course doesn't carry much except the usual Hollywood garbage of which I bought 4. Two of them were absolutely awful and I shut them off after just a few scenes. UGH! The garbage they call movies these days is unbelievable.

Anyway. Yesterday I went to the local Catholic bookstore and purchased some Catholic ones. I was lamenting that many seemed produced in Europe and I would have to read subtitles which I hate, but it had to be better than the garbage they put out for entertainment here.

The first one was in English and was fantastic even though I had already watched it on EWTN. The next one I watched today, sub-titles of course and I am absolutely astounded by the life of Venerable Don Carlo Gnocchi (pro-nounced - No-Chi) I was so interested that I googled some more about him and to my delight, I discovered he has been beatified.

I highly recommend this film. What wonderful servants of God we have in Heaven.

He founded "The Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundazione" for disabled children which is well-respected and continues to thrive in Italy today. It has expanded its care to elderly people who are unable take care of themselves and for terminal cancer patients. On January 17th, 2009 a miracle attributed to Venerable Don Carlo Gnocchi was promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI and he was  beatified on October 25th, 2009.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Publishers and Magazines I write For

 These are my favorite ones and I highly recommend their books and magazines. Of course I am a bit prejudiced as they publish my stories, but keep in mind, they also publish other outstanding writers works too. I always look forward to reading the stories others write and I am never disappointed with the great stories these publishers choose.

You can order direct from them, or most Christian Book stores, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble carry them or can order them for you.
Canticle Magazine, the “voice” of Women of Grace®. Dedicated to helping all Catholic women to live out their vocation more joyfully and faithfully – wives and mothers, single women, and religious from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds.Canticle Magazine is a bimonthly magazine. It is part of "Living His Life Abundantly - EWTN "
Amazing Grace Series is an anthology of Inspiring Stories from Ascension Press. Matt Pinto, Jeff Cavin and Patty Armstrong are the Editors and publishers of this fine series of Books. Each one contains short stories of everyday people who God has touched with His miracles of Love.

"When Miracles Happen " Hardcover Books, are a Series of Anthologies from Guidepost Books. Always good,, clean faith filled stories you can count on to uplift your spirits and enrich your faith.

God Allows U-Turns, is another anthology series of books by Allison Bottke . They publish books to encourage life-changing U-Turn choices through books for adults, children and youth .

Last but not least, The Chicken Soup for the Soul books which everyone knows and loves. They always produce great up-lifting stories which inspire people of all faiths to reach higher and hope even when hope seems out of reach.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Telemarketers and writing a Murder Mystery


It has been One of those Days...actually, make that Nights!

Ever been sound asleep after hours of tossing and turning, just to be rudely awakened by a telemarketers call? Well let me tell you, as a writer I tend to stay up late writing. Many days, the night turns into daylight before I actually go to bed. It’s one of the perks of being a writer. I can keep my own hours…at least in theory.

Last night was one of those nights I actually went to bed at mid-night. That is the good news. Bad news, my post-polio kept me awake until 4:00 am. Finally, I managed to get comfortable enough to drift into a blessed sleep. AH! Dream land…truly a gift after hours of tossing and turning in pain. At 9:15 am the shrill ringing of the telephone woke me up. Since I was half asleep, and still writing a novel in my sleep…the conversation went something like this.

Hello Mrs. Trollinger. This is Dish Network calling with a wonderful upgrade offer for your TV programming.

Helllllooo! Cough! Who did you say is calling?

OH! I’m sorry, did I wake you?

Well actually no. I was in the middle of writing my new "Murder Mystery," and I was plotting out how the villain could reach through a phone line and choke the life out of a Telemarketer. I was just in the middle of writing about the trial of said Villain/Hero. I was trying to work out how the Villain would get off Scott free by using the old “THEY DROVE ME TO INSANITY DEFENSE.”

You have been a big help to me. I think I will rewrite the first chapter.

How does this sound. He builds a robot phone that doesn’t kill any telemarketers instantly. It just ties them up and tortures them for months in a room full of ringing telephones 24/7 and never lets them sleep.Finally they expire of sheer exhaustion. Do you think it would sell?

Hello! Hello! HMMM>>> I guess they hung up. OH! Well, I think I will take a nap. I am sure to come up with another twist if I just sleep on it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My New Little Friend

Went to the grocery store and saw a cute little boy riding in the cart. He stuck out his pudgy hand to shake so I shook his hand. His Mom almost cried. You see he has Downs syndrome and she said everyone else ignored him. He just loves to shake hands. Well I started telling everyone I saw Up and down the aisles about him and got 10 or so people to find him and shake his hand. When I left he was surrounded by people shaking his hand. LOL! Such a sweet little guy.