- Snapping turtle (we named him Franklin and he lived in our pond until the flood)
- Wild Turkey
- Rats (So. Many. Rats. I HATE rats)
- Bull Snakes
- Garden Snakes
- Brown Bear (it knocked over our garbage can and stole bags of garbage one night, then knocked over our grill another)
- Mountain lion (scat all over by our pond)
- Rattle Snakes
- Bobcat (Howard, our dog, treed it and we watched it hiss at him for an hour)
- Desert centipede
- Milk Snake (in our house!)
I had no idea what a city girl I was until I came face-to-face with my first rattle snake. Not to mention the rats, the mountain lions, the bears…Early on I realized that life would be different from here on out, and I had to raise my children accordingly. After we moved in, my husband and I set up the “buddy” system. The kids always had to have a buddy at all times when they were out exploring. I found myself constantly saying, “Where’s your buddy? Find your buddy! Don’t leave your buddy alone!” and the boys would run off, rolling their eyes. We found quickly that when we said “buddy” it didn’t have the right ring to it. For three rough-and-tumble boys, “Buddy” sounded far too sissy. But wingmen, now that was something little boys could get excited about. That night we found a really great you tube video of two fighter jets flying side-by-side, and we sat our boys down. We taught them about wingmen and told them of the grave responsibility they had for each other. A wingman never leaves his partner’s side. They help each other, they protect each other, and they warn each other of impending danger. They had graduated from “buddies” to “wingmen,” and it wasn’t a term to use lightly. They had a responsibility as brothers to stick by each other and protect each other, no matter what, no matter where. And it worked. I’m thankful for three boys that stick together, play together, and help each other out. Three wingmen flying side-by-side.
This month I’ve been thinking about the “wingmen” I’ve had over the years in my life. Those that have flown beside me, who have helped me, and who have stuck with me no matter what. My amazing parents, my awesome sister, grandparents, in-laws, teachers, professors, friends, my husband…Those people that have flown by me both when the skies were clear and when the storms arose or bullets flew. More than anything, I’m thankful for a Father in Heaven who flies next to me, guides me, and lifts me up. The ultimate wingman.
This is a month of giving thanks, a month when we think about the amazing blessings we have in our lives. I imagine the things that we hold most dear and cherish more than ever this month are not things at all. They are the wingmen who have been at our side. Sometimes I think about those I love who have passed on. I think about the life they led and the life they left behind. I will always remember many years ago sitting in my grandma’s little living room after her funeral with cousins, aunts and uncles all around. Pictures were strewn across the floor. Pictures of old friends, new friends, family, and those she loved. Album after album of those that flew by her throughout her life. She left this life with very little worldly possessions. And that didn’t matter to any of us. She left behind so many with memories of her love and her influence. She flew by their side, and they flew by hers.
I’m so thankful for the wingmen in my life. Those that flew by me for only a short time, and those that continue to be there. This Thanksgiving let’s remember that our greatest blessings of all are those soaring through the winds of life by our side.