While in Red Bay, Alabama we had the opportunity to drive down to Louisiana and spend the weekend with my sweet friend Carly and her family. It took a couple of days to talk Mark into this plan…it was an eight hour drive down and we had to be back to keep our place in line at Tiffin. December 12th is…well, an anniversary. 10 years ago on December 12th Carly’s husband, Jeff, was killed in Iraq. I desperately wanted to be with Carly on the 12th even if it was going to be a short trip.
Sgt. Jeff Kirk was a kind man and he loved, so loved his Carly. Jeff and Carly lived across the street from me on Camp Pendleton. Jeff also loved being a Marine, you may hear that a lot, Jeff really did. But he also loved Carly and was ready after multiple combat tours to give it up and start a family with Carly. Jeff was wounded not long before he was killed but chose to stay in Iraq and finish this last tour with his men. A dream that was never realized, he was taken much too soon.
Jeff was an amazing artist, I was blown away when I saw the detail in his beautiful drawings. This is one of my favorites.
Carly is mostly a quiet person and Jeff had this way of making her come to life, she just glowed with love. They were adorable, always holding hands and affectionate. They wrote each other often during deployments but my favorite was they would send recordings back and forth. They just loved to chat and share everything with each other. Jeff didn’t want to miss a second of Carly’s life and vice versa. This is my favorite picture of Jeff and Carly, I smile every time I see it.
We drove down to Louisiana Friday and came back Sunday. We stayed with Aunt Linda and Uncle Buck at their fabulous country house! We can’t thank them enough for welcoming us and Gracie to stay with them. We had a wonderful weekend complete with my Carly girl, great food (thank you Aunt Linda), and Uncle Buck’s hilarious stories! Uncle Buck can tell a story and he has some funny, funny stories. I’ll see if I can get Mark to post about a couple of them. You see, they have these wild boars there and well…let’s just say some funny stories come out of Louisiana!
On Saturday we joined Aunt Linda and the Blue Star moms at Port Hudson National Cemetery for Wreaths Across America. Jeff is buried at Port Hudson, it has been a few years since I was in Louisiana and visited Jeff. It was a beautiful event, I recommend if you have the opportunity to take part in Wreaths Across America one December you should do it.
It was such a privilege to be with Carly and visit Jeff. I’m so thankful that Carly is surrounded by wonderful family that love her and honor Jeff.
The ceremony also honored Vietnam veterans specifically and Carly’s dad, Papa, and Uncle Buck are Vietnam Veterans. Another special moment for all of us, we visited Carly’s grandparents. Her grandfather, Paw (also a veteran) and Maw. Maw cracks me up, she just tells it like it is…there is a saying “out of the mouths of babes”…let me tell you look out for what comes out of the mouth of maw! Aunt Ginger and Uncle Marlo moved to Louisiana about a year ago to take care of Maw and Paw. It was great to catch up with them and see Little Ginger too. They have created a sweet little home behind Maw and Paw’s. A huge sacrifice to give up their life in Utah to take care of Maw and Paw. Saturday night three of Aunt Linda’s grandkids stayed over, we had a great time chatting with them and listening to Uncle Buck.
Aunt Linda sent me home with delicious zucchini bread, homemade pear jam, fresh spinach & kale, and heart full of love. It was such a blessing to be there for Carly and see my Louisiana family. I may not make it to Louisiana often but they always welcome me with open arms. We need to go back and do some sightseeing as this trip was too short and Mark really hasn’t seen much in Louisiana.
So long for now Louisiana, we will be back. Love you forever Carly Kirk! America can never thank you or appreciate the ultimate sacrifice you have paid for this great nation. But I know I will never forget Jeff, never.