Monday, February 9, 2009

Pride, worry and laughter

Brett Hanchey

Tonight I am filled with both worry and pride. I had my friend and second mom, Mrs. Pegi, text me today (around 3 p.m.) and tell me her son, Brett (also a close friend of mine), had just found out that he would be leaving tomorrow or Wednesday for Iraq. So much for having a week to pack and say your goodbyes, right? So immediately, I began to worry. I think it’s just honestly part of my nature.

As worried as I am, I have to say that my heart is filled with pride for Brett. He is really an amazing person. We grew up together, and I have seen him grow into a remarkable man. I know that I am not alone in saying how proud of him I am. He is going over to Iraq under contract this time, and I pray, and hope that you will join me, for his safe return. Both he and his family mean the world to me and my family.

To lighten MY mood tonight, I will tell y’all some funny stories about my family and the Hanchey’s. When Brett and I were little, we were in Bible Drills. A few years, we went to State Bible Drills down in Apopka. Mrs. Pegi never has been one to give directions. Well, let me clarify…it’s never good to get directions from her. My dad was the one driving us down to Apopka (so it was already taking twice as long, anyways), and he was following the directions that Mrs. Pegi had given him. What was sad, was the fact that at one point, they had been 17 miles from Apopka, but had followed Mrs. Pegi’s directions…which led them astray. Somehow, we wound up across the state (near Daytona) and South. Her sense of direction never ceases to amaze me! :)

I always try to find something funny in every situation (especially the bad) because laughter is the best medicine for me. Well, while we were at Brandon Thorsen’s funeral (which was completely one of the saddest things that I have EVER been to), I was sitting with Mrs. Pegi and her family. About halfway through the funeral, through tear-filled eyes, I notice the VERY hairy man sitting in front of me. I’d have known that scraggly-lookin’ man anywhere. I’m not mockin’ the man. He really does look like he belongs in the mountains, sitting on a front porch, with bare feet and a spittoon. Can we say “moon-shiner?” The first thing that I thought was “Oh, hell, I hope he doesn’t notice me.” To give y’all a bit of a background, I’ve had to deal with this man at work. He does wonderful things for veterans, but he is as backwoods as they come. And the man can cry at the drop of a hat. Have I mentioned that I don’t deal well with men crying?? Anyways, I was afraid he’d recognize me, and hit me up for getting something in the paper for him...or cry to me again. Come to find out, Mrs. Pegi had an equally strange encounter with him as well and she was thinking the same exact thing.

My mom just reminded me of the parade incident. That is actually where the picture above was taken. Brett was asked to be the Grand Marshall of the Trenton 2007 Veteran’s Day Parade because he was home on leave. I had previously planned a trip to Carrabelle that weekend, so of course, as soon as I heard about this, I had to change the plans. So there we all were, the Hancheys and the Sheffields, waiting with cameras in hand to see Brett leading the parade. As the line up approached, Brett was nowhere to be seen. We all stood there wondering if he would be marching or riding atop a car. As the first cop car drove past us, we saw the passenger waving to us. Brett was tucked away in the tinted-window cop car, and we were on the opposite side of the road. They didn’t so much as slow down, so we could snap a few pictures. So much for the great photo-op. Needless to say, this picture was taken after the parade.

Yes, when the Sheffields count our many blessings, we are all thankful for our friendship with the Hancheys over the years. They have always kept us laughing. Whether it be bible drills, moonshiners, Grand Marshall drive-bys, the redneck snake-killing, or the unfortunate events leading up to the 2008 Wild Hog Canoe race, we always have a good time with them.

I pray that the next year will pass by quickly, and Brett will return safely. I hope that y’all will also put him and his family in your prayers.

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