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Friday, October 3, 2008

Tying the Knot

Picture Day, October 2, 2008

Troy's Memorial Service Church Luncheon, December 6, 2006

Arlington National Cemetery, Dec. 11, 2006

Proverbs 3:3

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart."

Neckties. Being a military man's wife, one really doesn"t see a lot of neckties either hanging in the closet or around her man's neck. I always liked them. I think maybe because my dad was a college educational professional and they just went with the job. Since Troy was in the Air Force there really wasn't much need to own a lot of ties but since I liked them I would buy them occasionally for Troy. In 2005 when Troy went to work for Air Force One and President Bush we had to go suit and tie shopping. Strict policy that no military personnel could look "military" when working near the President of the United States. It was kind of fun (though expensive and not in our budget) to go shopping for Troy civilian clothes for a change. The suits bored me a little but the ties... ooh the ties. They beckoned my name. All the gorgeous patterns and colors! I wanted to be a man just for a moment so I could purchase a bunch and hang them neatly in my closet to wear to the office. Instead, I lived vicariously through Troy and his with his upcoming adventures with the President.

Fast forward a year and there I stood, in shock and mourning and grief, in our closet the night before Troy's memorial service. I was sorting through his neckties with my six year old son, Greyson. Not because I wanted to. The pain was unbearable. But because Greyson told me, "Mom, tomorrow for Daddy's funeral, I want to wear one of his ties." Whoa. He said it with total confidence and eloquence and determination. He would wear one of his Dad's ties to honor him.

I don't remember who tied his necktie for him that December 6th morning. But I remember seeing him in that blue dress shirt, just like his Dad's, and that beautiful necktie. It was possibly the most breathtakingly agonizing beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was too big. He wore it so proudly. It all made perfect sense. Why hadn't I thought of it myself? Well, probably because I don't think like Greyson. He has this incredible gift of thinking outside the box. Plus he has the confidence and self-assurance of a young man three times his age. He is comfortable in his own skin and hasn't a worry what the rest of the world might think. It is his most endearing quality. He is a super intelligent kid. He loves trivia and has the memory for it. He can be sensitive. He's always an odd mix of totally focused and somewhat distracted. I think there is just so much that goes in his brain at one time that the rest of us in the family just can't keep it all straight.

Again, on 5 days after Troy's memorial in Phoenix, Greyson pulls out the same tie to wear to his Dad's burial in Arlington National Cemetery. Pictures flashed across the Air Force Times web site. I am not sure how many people that viewed those photos knew that that little boy with the overly big tie was one special son who missed his Daddy very much. If they looked closely, I think they would have figured it out.

The next year, Greyson surprised me again. Picture day at school. Greyson pulls out one of Troy's ties and asks if I will tie it. So bittersweet. It was all I could think. Though I am not a big fan of school photos, I framed that one. Last year every time I looked at it, there at the end of the hallway by my lonely bedroom, I always thought how handsome and confident Greyson looked wearing Troy's yellow tie

Fast forward another year. Yesterday was picture day at school.. Another all-together different year but Greyson stays true to his plan and pulls out one of Troy's neckties again. This time we decided on the red one to match the plaid in his Bermuda shorts. The biggest blessing this year was that Greyson didn't have a fumbling mom tying a crooked knot. He had another amazing dad to help him. I told Jim what Greyson wanted to do and without a word Jim stepped in, wrapped that tie around Greyson's neck and began tying the most lovely AND loving knot I had ever seen. Jim worked to make it perfect. Not too long in the back. As nicely proportioned as a man's tie on a young boy could be. He then went to his closet to find him a tie tack to keep it together. Greyson chose the American flag one. Watching Jim love on him, hug him and support and watching Greyson visibly love both of his earthly fathers was a little more than I could watch without tearing up. Jim and I told him how proud Troy would be as he looked down from heaven and saw his tie around his son's neck. He looked so precious.

When I picked them up from school yesterday, I asked Greyson how his teacher and friends felt about his tie. He said he had a substitute and that a boy in his class made fun of him. . He seemed okay with it, because Greyson doesn't mind too much what other people think. As for me, I will be emailing the teacher and working at forgiving his insensitive classmate As for Troy, well, I just know he loves Picture Day.


  1. So handsome on him and so handsome of his character.

  2. Oh, Ginger, what a lovely story. Thanks for sharing.

  3. That made me cry as I read it. Sadly I remember those times (I wasn't at Arlington) - but everywhere else and think I was somewhere the day he asked about the ties and I remember keeping them for the boys. He's such a sweet boy! Love you...Aim

  4. Beautiful story Ginger. I found your blog just today. Praying for you, Jim, the kids and your healing.

  5. Ginger, your story and pictures you posted here are stunning. You have captured the beauty of paying tribute to those you love (as your and Jim's writing always does). You truly honor those you love, especially you Lord! Wendy Bilgen

  6. Ginger, we met today an NEBC MOPS apr 09 meeting. I thanked you for sharing and articulating your experience because it gave me insight into my mom and the loss of my dad 18 years ago. I still have my dad's ties too! Unlike Greyson I never wore them but they give me comfort nonetheless. My dad was a suit and tie guy.