One thing I feared most was that one or both of my boys would be unreachable if something happened to Ned, or any of us for that matter.
I feared and dreaded the “red tape” I might endure with the American Red Cross. I never had reason to contact them.
On Wednesday, October 25th, that changed. Facing the reality of the depravity of Ned’s illness, I could no longer hesitate.
I was given instructions and the number to call from a lady at the Elizabeth House. She informed me that it may take a little time giving the information but assured me the process was easy.
The initial call consisted of giving information about Matthew. It was easy. After about two hours, our nurse Jen, told me she had talked with Red Cross to validate the information about Ned’s condition. Within 8 hours, I received a call from Diane. She would be managing my case.
She informed me that if I had not heard anything within 8 hours to call her back. I did. She knew Matthews boat had been notified. However, we had gotten no response. So, she put out another plea.
The next day she called and assured me the boat had received notification. She said, “Hopefully, you will hear something from Matthew soon! Please let me know the minute you hear anything.”
Later in the evening, a call came through. I knew immediately it was Matthew. Our connection wasn’t ideal; but, I was able to tell him his Papaw was still alive. Our call was dropped.
Upon returning to the Elizabeth House, after my brief conversation with Matthew, I found out that he had been able to talk to Ned and Mom. What a blessing.
I immediately called Diane. She was thrilled to know we had talked with Matthew. I thanked her profusely.
A few minutes later, I get another call from the Red Cross, informing me that if Ned dies, I am required to open up a new case.
In the wee hours on Sunday, October 29, I received the call about Ned’s passing. Needless to say, sleep was not on the radar after that call. I cried. I prayed. I cried more. Then at 3:45 AM, I once again called the American Red Cross, only this time I had to open two case files, one for each of the boys. Although, I could call and talk with Ryan directly the proper channels have to met for emergency leave. It’s the process.
Several hours later, Diane called. She wanted me to know that she had sent notification to both commands.
The following day, she called again. Just checking to see if I had heard from either boy. Fortunately, later in the day, I was able to inform her Ryan had been granted leave. He would be home.
Tuesday came and went. Wednesday morning she called again. She said, “I have verification that command received the message but they haven’t replied.” I explained that I was very aware of Matthew’s importance on his boat and also aware he may not get to come home.
I told her several times how instrumental she was and how her continual communication with me was much appreciated. I cried while thanking her for going the extra mile for me.
Then she said, “I normally don’t share my story but I will share with you. The reason I became a volunteer is because I had the same situation happen to me. My son was deployed when my father died. I called the ARC. They didn’t follow-up. I even held up my dads funeral for 10 days waiting to hear from him, which caused issues with other family members. When I finally received notification, I was told that he was on special assignment and they could not even deliver the news to him, much less allow him to come home. Due to the lack of communication, I was determined not to allow this to happen to other families.”
No wonder she was so remarkable communicative, She knew. She understood. Instead of being angry and complaining about the system that failed her, she did something about it.
But her story continues.
Diane is a Gold Star mom. She has buried one son. Diane has another son who was shot at Fort Hood in 2009. She has not just sat around mourning the loss of one son and the substantial damage to another. She gives and she gives. She goes way beyond the call of duty. She’s just a volunteer.
Diane’s story is only one of many whose families have lost loved ones fighting for our freedom. This family, like so many others, is the reason we celebrate Memorial Day. These men and women have placed their wants, desires and needs aside to defend and protect the United States of America. Let’s say to the families how much we appreciate them for supporting their loved ones decision to become part of something bigger than themselves. Just like Jesus says in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends” For years and even now men and women have been called to give up their lives for our freedom.