This diary is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend and Conservative mentor, known on RS as TallChE. He passed away Thanksgiving Eve. from injuries sustained in a terrible accident at the end of October.
This is going to be a two-in-one diary. As it is my real birthday, I thought I would first share a little bit about myself - a woman's life. The second part is not about conversion, but recognition.
I had a less-than-ideal childhood. I am a product of nine foster homes, and 10 schools through high school. I won't dwell on those years, and neither do I make light of the impact such a growing up story has. We all know there are holes and scars, and one can spend a lifetime working on smoothing them out; in fact, one does. But everyone has had different experiences and personal stories, and I always try to keep this in mind.
Three things stand out as being mainstays for me. I loved books, they were a refuge, and school was a safe haven. Good teachers recognize a young person's thirst for knowledge. Two, in a very dark time for me as a child, I once cried out, “I wish I was someone's child, and a person nearby said, “You are, you are God's child.” Somehow, those words stayed with me and sustain me to this day. The third thing - I always had a hopeful heart that tomorrow would be better.
Eventually, I grew up, was able to get a higher education and became a Navy Nurse. I met and married my husband, a great guy, and we have three wonderful children. No perfect answer on how to have a successful marriage. But, I do think it has to do with where one starts and where one expects to go. Two people who marry can have differences, but as long as you have the same values and similar expectations, it helps.
Over the years, while we were raising the children, we noticed an erosion of our traditional American culture. The War on Christmas, political correctness, schools tolerating behaviors that were not part of the America we grew up in. One day, we looked at one another and said, “When did our way of life become the exception, rather than the rule?” Everywhere one looks is the intrusion of the State, from how to raise your children, to what they learn in public schools. Our children attended parochial school through middle school, then public high school. It has been in this decade that we've finally realized just how marginalized our traditional American way of life has become.
Now the journey of the past year. As I noted, this is not a conversion story of a Democrat to a Republican, but more of a recognition that not only am I a Republican, but I am a Conservative. There is a difference. Just a short year ago, we were still in shock, still absorbing the election results and the full impact was then unknown. Many of us felt true fear. Even my husband, who is a calm, steady man in the roughest of seas, seemed shaken. Every time I met a friend, we'd tear up and, for the first time in my life, I was afraid for my country. The first thing I did that dark day was cancel our local newspaper. For over a decade we had seen it pushing an ideological/cultural agenda with which we had nothing in common. I realized I didn't have to pay for this abuse. We had only watched FOX News for a long time, but the two weeks before and for a long time after, I did not have TV on. We found we could get the WSJ delivered and the weekly edition of the Washington Times by mail. We like a newspaper with our coffee.
Let me digress for a moment and talk about TallChE. He was a chemical engineer and literally a big guy, 6'8”. He was like a big brother to me. As a conservative and activist, he had incredible insight and wisdom. Though his schedule rarely gave him time to post on RS, he followed the site closely. Behind the scenes, he was doing all of the things that grassroots political activism calls us to do. In October, he worked in the local Bob McDonnell headquarters, calling and helping other volunteers to do the same. As mentioned above, TallChE suffered a terrible accident that last weekend, and died of his injuries just before Thanksgiving. The loss of TallChE does leave a hole, but he had incredible Christian faith, and he was truly “a good and faithful servant.” I pray that God will enfold my gentle giant friend in His arms.
TallChE introduced me to RedState. By mid-2008, I finally succumbed to the Internet. Having always been such a bibliophile, I was a computer hold-out. It was on RS that I discovered others just like myself, traditional, independent, freedom loving Americans. Somehow we had been forced under the radar for the past several decades, but now we were showing up. Between RS and other sites, I learned not only about the Conservative movement, but about being a Conservative. No longer was I just a Republican, giving robotically to the GOP, now I could specifically direct energy, resources and support within the grassroots movement. As Conservatives we recognize our differences, but we have more in common than not. One of the most important things I discovered, we are here because we came seeking answers. As patriots, we do not like feeling helpless or powerless. Being involved in the grassroots movement of Conservatism allowed us to move from the fear of what was going to happen, to the hope birthed by action with like-minded patriots who love this great country, America.
Has it been a hard year? Yes, for all of us. Recently, TMR, RS, and the greater Conservative movement lost David Hinz, a wonderful and dynamic activist. I lost my dear friend and mentor, TallChE. We've suffered political disappointment, angst over each hurdle before us due to the fact we lost that election in 2008. But one year later, it is not quite the doom and gloom we had feared would be our portion. Tea Parties, Town Halls, the 9/12 March, have all been manifestations of doing something about the circumstances we find ourselves in. Politics brings us together here at RedState; as a community we are learning how to travel this road, and we are traveling it together.
December is a month of celebration, and I have always appreciated the fact that I had a birthday in the month. Different faiths celebrate Holy Days this month, so my thoughts are certainly to encompass everyone. Even if one does not follow a particular faith, the season brings a sharing and connectedness with our fellow man. And my birthday wish today? Please remember the extraordinary work our moderators Neil and Moe and RedState do for us.
When my family asks me what do I want for my birthday, they know what I am thinking. I am not cold, hungry or wondering where I will be the next night, and I have friends near and far; I have what I need and the rest is gravy. I still have my simple faith in God, and belief that tomorrow will be better. We can, and will, work to make it so.