While rummaging through a box of old papers the other day, I came across a letter that I had written to a little friend of mine in 1993. I found it interesting and would like to share it.
First, I need to give you a little background information. We moved to Walthourville in 1971, and it was mostly woods around us. The nearest neighbors were the Caines family. There were no trailer parks or housing developments on Griffin Road at that time. Walthourville built up over the years; people moved in, but we didn’t know any of them.
One evening in 1989, as I was cooking supper, I glanced out the window and saw a long-legged man and a little girl striding across the yard. They were in the process of moving into a mobile home across the road from us. That began a friendship with a military family that still exists today.
We had never been associated with any military families, as my first husband was drafted in 1965 but was rejected. I cannot even imagine packing up all my possessions and moving every time I turned around. I have lived in three connecting counties my entire life — Long, Liberty and Tattnall. Even when I was in school, I do not recall but one military student in the whole school. We had one military spouse who was my fifth-grade teacher.
Of course, that all has changed now in Long County schools, as there are many military families living in the county. So, I guess what I am saying is that I really had not been involved with military life.
But during the next few years, we were involved and wept tears of joy and tears of heartache as soldiers left their families and went to war. We supported them through the good and bad times. We celebrated the holidays together and ate together numerous times. Karen was a fantastic cook.
We took the wife and two kids to the airport for a trip to her parents. My husband walked over and very gently relayed the news to his wife that Operation Desert Storm had begun. We became adopted grandparents to the kids, who were 4 and 1 when they moved here.
After Desert Storm, Wayne Faulkner, a combat medical specialist career soldier, was sent to another base. Tearfully, we bid them goodbye. But later, to our great pleasure, he was sent back to Fort Stewart for a while.
It was while they were stationed here again that my husband died in 1999, and they were a world of support to me then and many months afterward. Making friends with this fine military family has been one of the greatest joys of my life. If you have a chance to be a friend to one of our fine military families sent here to train, I highly recommend that you take advantage of that. Your life and theirs can be blessed.
Now, I will share the letter I sent to Ashley Faulkner when she was 8 years old and had to move away from us with her family to another Army station.
“Sept. 19, 1993. Dear Ashley, How are you today? Just fine and dandy, I hope. I know you are doing well in school and continuing to get prettier. I hope you liked the articles I sent to you, and I know you could read them. I just got my pictures back today and am going to send a bunch to you if I can get all the labels wrote up and put on the back of all of them. Hope you all will enjoy them, too.
I heard that you said the other day that you do not want to make any more new friends, as you always have to move off and leave them. Now, this upsets me very much and I’ll tell you why. What if you had made that kind of comment when you left Germany, and your tall daddy would not have come across our yard with you in tow the very first day you all moved to Walthourville? You would have been just like the neighbors (that is, people) that live in the trailer at this time. They do not even acknowledge our speaking to them! I cannot even tell you what their first names are. We would have missed out on so much by you not wanting to make new friends.
As it is, you are a very fortunate little girl as you will have many friends scattered all across the United States and overseas. I mentioned you at church the other night, and everyone wanted to know how you all were doing. One of them was your school teacher from the First Presbyterian Church, where I went to see your play. Remember? Her name was Mrs. Diane Strickland, daughter of Mrs. Ardith Herbert, the lady that put the mail in our mailboxes at the post office. Diane is living with her mother again now.
Do you remember when out cat, Put, got ran over on the road? I said that I did not ever want another cat for me to become very attached and then have something happen to it and make me so sad. You know what happened. Boo-Boo showed up in the yard and was very hungry and needed a friend to see about him and to love and care for him. Then later, along came Redcat, hungry also and needing love and attention. (Both lived about 15 years with me.) You see, there are always people and animals that need a good friend like you, Ashley, to share their lives with! It is people like you and your little brother, Brandon and your mama, Karen, and daddy, Wayne, that make this world a better and happier place to live. So, meet some new kids like the ones you met on your camping trip. Then, one day when you are as big or as old as I am, you will be able to hop on an airplane and be able to go almost anywhere to visit some of your old friends that you have met in your childhood days.
One day you may need to borrow a hundred dollars, and if you had a hundred friends, you could ask each one to loan you one dollar, and they would! I don’t know if your mommy is in the kitchen cooking hot onion rings right now that is making tears come to my eyes, or if it is thinking how much I miss my little friends like you!
Did you see those Braves last Saturday night lose the baseball game? They had better quit losing or we will have to send in Brandon to pitch and hit for them. It will soon be time for you all to decorate for the spooky Halloween season that will be coming up next month. Remember when your yard in Walthourville was featured in the Coastal Courier while your Daddy was in Kuwait?
Carmen moved in next door and she has two little boys, Blake, 4, and Grant, 2. I went over today and they thought I was young. They climbed into my lap and wanted me to play with them. One climbed into my lap and, immediately, my little grandson, Keith, beat it over and climbed on my other knee to give me sugar and then the other little fellow climbed up in my lap. I was going to be like you and not want or have anything to do with those kids. But it seems that I have no choice when their little eyes light up with so much innocent love and they immediately crawl onto my lap. Their grandparents are far off as you were. But they can’t eat candy from my candy jar, as they aren’t allowed because of health problems.
I hope I have shown you the importance of making friends and being one. You and your family will always be our friends, no matter where you may live! We are thankful that the United States Army sent you to Fort Stewart, Georgia, not one time but three! Love, Grandma Margie.”
Wayne Faulkner, a native of Forsyth, retired from the U. S. Army as a sergeant first class, having served from 1977-99. They moved back to his wife Karen’s hometown in Yates Center, Kan. He is a lieutenant with the Kansas State Patrol, where he has been serving for 12 years. Karen is an instructor in charge of the Alternate Learning Center K-8th grade in Yates Center.
Ashley graduated from college, is married and has a little boy. She is a radiology technician in Allen County Hospital.
Brandon grew tall like his father and is 6-foot-4 and graduated from college on a baseball scholarship. Enjoying baseball when he was a little fellow paid off! He is on the Wichita Police Force in Kansas. It is a city of 380,000 and has more than 700 policemen.
I am very honored to have been a part of this fine military family’s lives while they were stationed at Fort Stewart and lived in Liberty County.