Monday, October 1, 2012

We Snail Ladies Love Our Troops

Hi again, it's me, the Snail Trail blogger
From 2007 to 2010, this Snail blogger and her husband sent letters and goody boxes to about 3,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of those adopted military personnel became good friends and to this day, they stay in touch. I met a lot of really great men and women during that time in my life just through writing back and forth. I even got a hug from them when some came to call after they returned home. Those strangers became valued friends, even though we didn't know them personally.

Until now.

She so liked the motto from WWII
that she bought the shirt.
The story goes like this: There was a young Filipina nurse who was the same age as our oldest granddaughter and upon a good recommendation, I hired her to care for my Parkinson's ridden husband. Nurse Maryann was with us for three years and we loved her as a granddaughter. She had waited such a long time for a Visa to immigrate to the country she'd heard so much about from her grandparents who had endured the Japanese occupation during WWII. She'd listened to their stories all her life--about how the Americans helped the Philippine people and how MacArthur really did come back to just as he'd promised he would--to free the people from the Japanese invaders.

Maryann helped me sew cool ties for the
troops who had to fight in the desert
heat. We filled them with plastic beads
that could be frozen and the soldiers wore them
around their necks, lowering body heat by 10%.
So it was that she came to  this country with great love in her heart for us and our land. During the time she worked here, she helped sew things for the troops, pack care packages, and along with my hubby, shop for the things we needed to fill out the boxes. She showed me how to pack a box so it screamed for mercy because she'd stuffed so much inside it.

Then one day she turned in her resignation. I was heart-broken. My husband and I both felt like part of our family was leaving. She wanted to join the Army, she told us. When I questioned as to why this sudden development, she informed me she'd been thinking about it for a long time. "I see how you and Mr. Keith love the military and I see how you support them with all you have. I love this land and I want to be part of the people who protect it."

How do you argue with logic like that?

First day she got her camo's, she came
to show us and then borrowed Jim's
dog for a photo op.
I remained in touch with her as she went through all the training the Army had in store for her. From the beginning, she'd told me her top priority was to be deployed to the Middle East. As a nurse, she knew they could use her there and nobody was jumping for joy more than Maryann when her orders for Kuwait came through. Half of the team would go somewhere else, but Maryann was in charge of a platoon now and they were all headed for what the troops came to call, "The Big Sandbox."

When she was issued her medical beret,
she stopped by to show it off.
When I told our Snail Trail ladies about Nurse Maryann in Kuwait, we all agreed to adopt the platoon she headed up. We sent our first big box a week ago, stuffed till it screamed because I remembered how Maryann had taught me to pack.  Snail Patty helped me pack but all of us had pitched in to provide the contents.

Maryann and I packed so many
boxes over those three years
that no way on earth would I
ever forget how to do it.
I remembered how to fill out a Custom's Form and write the address just like the military wants it.  Once it was triple wrapped in tape, Patty took it to the Post Office--only because the lady who worked there didn't trust that I knew how to fill out the custom's form, so told Patty to bring her the box for her perusal. It was perfect. Wrapped right. Custom's right. Postage right. I guess she was surprised I knew the routine. This bunch of Snail Ladies ain't no dummies. We've been around a long while and learned a few things over the years. Bet that mail clerk won't be so uppity next time.

Every one of we ladies are working overtime getting ready for Christmas. Knitting and crochet needles are flying, sewing machines are going double time, bead jewelry is in the works and our one lone embroidery lady is dreaming of floss ninjas attacking her while she slumbers. Even so, each and every lady in the group has the soldiers on top of their list and when something catches the eye, it goes into the cart and eventually makes its way to either Patty or me so we can stuff it in the next box.

My husband was a Korean War
Vet. The whole 3 years he was
aboard ship, he never got one
piece of mail. Thus his desire to
make sure today's military knew
someone actually cared about them.


If you'd like to write Christmas cards to
our troops, knit or crochet hats and scarves,
add products to the care packages, please
let us know by writing to grandmakeith@ I'll send a supply list and 
military approved hat and scarf patterns.
Thanks and God bless.

Patty and Sandy
I was reading just last week that our troops were asking if the American people had forgotten them. May it never be. The best thing we Snails can figure is to make sure they know they're loved and remembered. After all, a little ramen noodles and chewing gum and beef jerky and tuna pouches go a long way toward making a platoon smile. The season of giving is right around the corner. But sharing what we have with others doesn't need a season. Does it?

My husband and Maryann were quite the duo. Because I'm
partly disabled, she took him to doctor and dentist
appointment, for walks, and cooked us Filipino food--
which we devoured.