The Three Things Jillian Michaels Taught Me That Changed Everything

Five Years Later:

I am fifty-two years old and can easily say until about five years ago fighting my weight was constantly on my mind. What a shame don’t you think? But it is just simply the truth.

From the moment, as a child I began to realize I was bigger than average I have been reminded constantly I was over weight. It was an annoyance as a kid but an obsession by my teen years.

Briefly in High School I obtained true fitness as an athlete but the moment I entered college the Freshman thirty escalated to the Sophomore sixty. I again had a brief moment of apparent control my junior year and was at that moment the thinnest I ever remember. It lasted maybe 6 months.

A few times in my young adult life I felt I looked OK but never did I feel I was the best I could be. I was slim when I met my husband. Even slimmer the day we married but I never felt in control.

As I had our children my weight ballooned to well over three-hundred pounds prior to the birth of our twins and yo-yoed back and forth between two-hundred and thirty pounds and three-hundred pounds several times over my last two pregnancies.

With four beautiful boys and my childbearing years behind me, I determined it was time to conquer the beast, lose weight and keep it off. I always had the goal of just below two-hundred pounds in mind. That was my weight when I married. I really felt beautiful that day so it seemed a good goal. A goal I never achieved on my own and it was not from the lack of trying.

I tried them all, diets that is. The Dolly Parton Soup Diet, The Atkins Diet, The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet, The Moon Pie and Diet Dr. Pepper Diet. That last one was my own creation, ask my chiropractor, Dr. Shawn Eckley. I really did it. He still teases me about that one but you get the picture.

Fast forward five years ago. Actually it started six years ago, winter 2009. My husband Mark had torn his ACL. As they were prepping him for surgery they discovered a heart problem. He has Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter aka AFib, Aflutter. According to our doctor, Dr. Chris Ellis aka The Electrician at Vanderbilt Hospital, if you have to have a heart problem these are the ones to have. Having both at the same time complicates the issue but you won’t drop dead from it.

Still, with my husband now a heart patient, facing multiple surgeries and procedures. He has had two heart surgeries so far with one more scheduled. More cardioversions than I can count but well over 20, the year 2009 was a bit overwhelming.

That spring, our twins were finishing high school as I completed my college degree. As fall 2009 approached along with my husband’s first surgery, we had closed our business of twenty years. I had started driving the school bus to help offset the tuition for the Christian school our kids had attended since kindergarten. My husband was able to help with those duties when his heart was stable.

I had started teaching High School part time, selling a multi-level marketing health product and was continuing my full time radio job as traffic reporter, U-Turn LaVern in Nashville. In January I also accepted a job as an adjunct, filling in for an injured professor at the University I had just graduated from.

I remember clearly sitting in my office just staring at the computer screen. My husband and my youngest son were in a deep state of depression. My husband for the obvious reasons, my youngest son for the same reasons I had dealt with my entire life.

He is now nineteen years old and 6 10’ so you can imagine his height at the tender age of twelve. Also overweight, he had dealt with a level of bullying that I was familiar with but still had no answer for. Honestly there isn’t one. Bullies have and always will exist but it is how we allow them to affect us that matters.

Despite my constant reassurances that when he got older he would understand. That everything would be OK and bullies need to be pitied not feared. He still pulled deeper and deeper into himself. The conversations we had still break my heart and I honestly don’t think it is my place to say more.

Nevertheless, one night I found myself staring into the computer screen praying and thinking, and brain storming for an idea. Any idea to help my husband and my son find motivation, purpose but mostly joy again.

The Biggest Loser television show was in its heyday but I had never watched more than a moment or two. I honestly had no idea who Jillian Michaels was, except for the fact she and her team were great at marketing. Even if you didn’t follow the show you recognized her picture.

I went to their site hoping for ideas and was immediately reading a notice regarding a summer series with Jillian called ‘Losing it with Jillian Michaels’ and they were coming to Nashville the next week. The premise had Jillian moving in with families for a week over the summer to help them get their lives back on track. At first I didn’t even consider it. There was no way I was going to allow my son to be involved. It didn’t sound like a good idea.

Still I found myself filling out the form thinking maybe I will get some ideas, never expecting to hear from them. I was wrong. Within moments it seemed, their questions to me were flying across the web. Even though I was already involved with the media as a longtime radio personality they still wanted to meet us.

At this point I thought, why not? Nothing will come of it and it will be a nice distraction for all of us.

In an effort to make a long story shorter, they were interested in us.

As it became obvious they were serious and our participation might actually happen I consulted my ministers. I was ready to stop everything. The thought of allowing my child to participate in this for this reason mortified me. It was my ministers that convince me otherwise. Again this part of the story involves my son more than myself so I will leave it there. Please do not judge us. Unless you know every detail of what was happening in my family’s lives at that time you have no idea if you would or would not have made the decision as we did to appear in the series.

Fast forward to Jillian’s entrance. From the moment she entered our lives she was more than kind to us. The comment I get mostly from those who have watched our show and have watched her in the past is “why didn’t she yell and scream at you guys?” The reason is simple. We did what she asked us to do. We never complained. We didn’t whine. We didn’t stop, no matter what.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about Jillian is that many who watch her think she is brutal, mean and maybe even cruel. She is brutal. After all she is America’s toughest trainer but cruel, mean? She is anything but. The difference she made in my son, in my husband and in me was because she didn’t come in and just get what she needed for the show then leave. She genuinely cared.

There are so many instances I could share to explain what I mean but I decided to share just one, one that no one saw. She and I were sitting on the curb in the parking lot at the YMCA. The cameras were rolling of course. Actually I was stunned when what I am about to share with you didn’t show up on national TV but as far as I know the only ones aware of what transpired are those who I have shared the story with.

We had walked out of the Y after an emotional moment. As Jillian and I talked about what had happened, what was next and just everything in general she began to peel back my layers. At that time I was absolutely near breaking down. I don’t know whether to call it a nervous breakdown, an emotional breakdown or just me curling into the fetal position and crying ‘uncle!’

As we talked I told her of my concerns for the days ahead. My husband’s continued health issues, job concerns, the five jobs I had held that year and the reality of having to pull my two youngest sons out of the only school they had ever attended, especially as they were just entering high school. Without a thought she asked how much it cost and when I told her she said without hesitation, “I’ll pay it.”

I looked at her in disbelief and she assured me, “Really, no big deal. I will pay it for three years.” She clarified. And then I believe her exact words were something to the effect of “I would just piss it away anyway.” and she did, pay it I mean, every year for three years. No media coverage, no strings attached. She just did it because she said she would.

At the end of our time with Jillian we had all lost a substantial amount of weight, won some much needed cash and she left me with three key guidelines that has helped me maintain my weight loss for the last five years.

You’re dying to know aren’t you?

OK here is goes. The three things Jillian Michaels taught me that changed everything. No tricks, there really are three keys things she taught me that have helped me keep my weight off and feel in control for the first time in my life.

Number One: Calories = energy:

Stunning news I know. I had the same reaction but hear me out. The day she dropped into our lives she began to go through my cupboards, refrigerator and pantry. Over and over she came across, fat free, low carb and sugar free products. At one point she rolled her eyes and in a voice tinged with classic Jillian Michaels sarcasm said, “Well how’s that working out for ya mom?”

I really didn’t know what to say as she grabbed garbage bags and began to throw everything away. Even the frozen foods weren’t safe. As she tossed items into the bags she explained, “Weight loss is just math. Calories are energy and if you consume more energy than you burn you store it. The base rule to follow is 1500 calories = 1 pound.” She continued. “If you eat 3000 calories and only burn 1500 then you gain a pound, reverse that and you lose, simple as that. It’s math!”

I said, “Wow, counting calories? That is just how we dieted in the 70’s.” To which Jillian threw up her hands and said, “Well big surprise it still works!”

She did go on to add that the processed foods we eat and our terrible lifestyles in general can muddy our metabolisms and prevent us from burning calories efficiently. That is why she pushes clean calories, whole foods and healthy snacks but bottom line? She said if you are eating good food stop looking at anything but the calories. That is the key.

She does promote supplements to help rev the metabolism and cleansing products to boost weight loss but always goes back to calories; calories in – calories out. Otherwise you are fooling yourself she told us.

She also had a lot to say about how upside down we have become as a society to allow food to control us. She said we have convinced ourselves that we need a set number of calories, a set number of meals and we have allowed the obsession to dominate and sometimes destroy our lives.

She talked about the importance of making sure your body has fuel to work but most importantly to understand we could actually do just fine on lower calorie numbers than we realize. Of course she always insisted we work with a doctor but to closely and honestly re-examine the reality of how many calories the human body needs to stay healthy.

Number Two: Think of your perfect weight as a wall:

When we started working with Jillian my idea of a perfect weight was anything below two-hundred pounds. Once I got to that number two-hundred became my wall. As long as I stayed two-hundred or just to the left of that number I was in maintenance mode. If I ever moved to the right again I would drop my calories and step up my work out. After losing my weight I think I only crossed back over the two-hundred wall once or twice.

I eventually decided to move the wall first to one-hundred ninety and now my weight wall is one-hundred eighty.

This has been the best trick I have ever found for maintaining my weight. As long as I stick to my wall number or move a little to the left of the wall, for example one-hundred seventy-five, then I relax and treat myself to extra calories every now and then.

But I never ignore my wall. I know if I do I will regret it and so will you.

I hear a lot of people say, “I never get on the scales. If my clothes don’t feel right then I pay attention.”

If you are tall by the time your clothes are starting to feel tight you could be twenty-pounds to the right side of your wall. If you don’t think that is a lot, pick up a twenty-pound bag of dog food the next time you go shopping. Then carry it the entire time.

I have found the five-pound range the key to never being overweight again.

175 (extra calories!)  – 180 (The wall)  – 185 (Drop calorie intake!)

Commit to checking on your wall every few days or at least every week. If ever you move to the right of your wall, even one pound, get to the gym or drop your calorie intake into the range you now know you need to drop weight. Get back on or below your wall as quickly as you can, with a doctor’s supervision of course.

It may sound too simple, too obvious but it is a visual that will make the difference. The weight wall is an illustration Jillian shared with me very randomly. I have never heard her repeat it so it may not be an example she commonly uses but for me it has made all the difference.

Number Three: If you get a flat tire don’t get out and slit the other three tires, air up the flat and get back on the road.

This is one I have heard her repeat and I use all the time on our Live Hosted Commercials at The Blaze TV.

She shared this with me right after I had lost my weight. I had a speaking engagement she knew I was nervous about. That night, after I had given the speech and been less than thrilled with my presentation, I pigged out on chocolate. It had been included in a gift bag they gave me at the presentation. At first I had taken the chocolate out to leave behind and then at the last minute I put it back in the bag. On the car ride home I ate one after the other.

When I emailed her that I was disgusted with myself she answered, “Well why don’t you just slit the other three tires and forget it then.” She then explained what she meant and I got the message loud and clear as my son went through the bag and threw out the rest of the chocolate.

Bottom line? If you are struggling with your weight decide now that the struggle is over. Just start. No matter what program or system you use, remember the message Jillian Michaels shared with our family. Life is too precious to waste it over the blessing of having too much food.

I saw a movie recently about orphan children from the Sudan that came to America, it’s called ‘The Good Lie.” in the movie one of the characters marvels to someone back in the Sudan, “Here in America people die from too much food.”

Jillian Michaels may appear to be the toughest trainer in America but from my experience she is less tough and more heart broken that so many people are not getting this message. Does it make her yell and scream? Yes, because it makes her angry when people give up.

Not because she is cruel or insensitive but because she’s been there and she knows that being overweight is like being in a self imposed prison. She is just screaming for everyone to break free and see what they are truly capable of.

Thank you Jillian.

God Bless!

LaVern Vivio

February 16, 2015

Published in: Uncategorized on February 16, 2015 at 11:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sharing Daddy

May 31, 2012

For days I have known I had something to say but I could not bring myself to write the words. Almost as if writing about it made it real. If I could just wake up maybe I would realize this is all a bad dream but as the days wear on I know things will never be the same.

Fourteen days ago I lost a piece of my heart.

It’s been exactly fourteen days since my father, Larry Albin Wilson flew away. He was just seventy-three years old. Not old at all by some standards but when anyone you love crosses that seventy marker you know they have beaten the odds.

Still nothing prepares you to say goodbye to someone so close.

I come from a family of farmers. We are the real deal.

My grandfather started the farm I grew up on. Dad took over the reins his senior year of high school after his father passed away. Now my brother and his sons continue on.

Originally a dairy farm, Dad is a master at sensing when the tide is about to change.

He switched from a dairy farm to pork production in the seventies and when pork prices tanked he and my brother turned their attention to row crop production.

Dad always diversifies. He’s never had just one source of income.

He is innovative, always trying something new and never afraid to break something apart to make it better or more efficient.

One of nine children, five boys and four girls, he stepped into the shoes of his father rather than attending college as he intended but never seemed regretful of the path that was set before him.

He has the mind of an engineer, building and developing projects that peaked the interest of the local media from time to time.

He is a real trailblazer.

I have never spent a single day that I was not proud to be his daughter and I boast often that my dad is one of the smartest people anyone will ever know.

As I try to cope and wrap my mind around my world without his presence I simply can’t bring myself to think of him in the past tense.

You see… it occurred to me as I worked in my garden the other day… Daddy is closer than ever.

Dad loves my garden and I love sharing it with him.

Last year I couldn’t wait to show him how I had laid out the rows and what I had planted. The tiller I use was the last thing he put together for me.  Of course it’s an older model with a few modifications but I doubt I will ever use anything else. It is way too special.

As I worked, thinking over the things I would not get to show him, I began to talk to him. I had told some of those closest to him to do the same. I wanted to offer a degree of comfort to those who spoke with him most everyday.

There is one young man in particular, he thought of my Dad almost like a second father. He and my Dad both love to learn and to talk about what they know.

Dad is much older than him so I am sure he never thought he had much to teach my Dad but Daddy is a person who assumes everyone has something to offer. He listens with intent interest to anyone who will take the time to visit. Dad reads constantly, not for pleasure as most do but to learn, because learning is his pleasure.

When I saw this young man at the memorial, he broke my heart. I knew well the relationship he had with my father and I grieved for him.

At one point I pulled him aside and told him something I told only a few others,  I didn’t mind sharing my Dad with him.

Sharing Daddy is something I have gotten use to.

Over the years we have never had him to ourselves. He is simply not that kind of guy.

I have several cousins that lost their dad when we were all very young. They were the first I grew accustomed to sharing Daddy with but over the years there have been many others. I can’t say I was gracious to them all. Some seemed to take and never give but Daddy never seemed to mind.

As I stood talking with those closest to my Dad something else occurred to me.

Dad is still with us. Not just in the way he influenced us over the years but with us… really with us.

Didn’t Paul write in Hebrews about a cloud of witnesses?

This was something that had occurred to me years ago but many would disagree when I suggested those who have left this life are watching us from the next.

They would typically respond, if heaven is a place of pure joy without tears and struggles, how can we expect those who have already gone on to look back to the sadness of a fallen world?

It is just in the last few days that I think I am finally beginning to understand.

We are told in scripture that after death we will be like Christ. Does that mean we will be able to see the whole picture of what this life holds and not just the snap shot we experience on a daily bases?

In the book, Heaven is for Real, little Colton talked about seeing his father taking part in a battle but quickly reassures his father, “it’s okay… Jesus wins.”.

Could that be what the witnesses see?

Life as we know it… full of the strife and pain that began as mankind turned away from our Creator?

Then beyond the pain can they see the ending?

Or maybe we should call it the beginning.

The fulfillment of the promise made in Paul’s letter to the Romans, that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Think about this… have you ever read a story that was full of heartache but had an ending so beautiful it takes your breath away?

If you read the story again, knowing the ending, would it change the way you view the story?

Can the cloud of witnesses see the ending?

Can they see the eternity waiting for us all?

An ending so beautiful and breathtaking that the journey is nothing more than a story they have all read before… pointless in the light of the conclusion… allowing them to be joyous… cheering us on through the strife.

As this occurred to me I encouraged others to keep talking to Dad and I began to do the same.

He’s really not so far away… Just because he is not standing beside us doesn’t mean he is not with us.

We just have to share him again.

This time with the cloud of witnesses he joined as he stepped through the veil.

If we listen closely maybe we will hear him cheering us on!

Encouraging us to persevere and throw off everything that hinders us in the race marked out for us all

Until we join each other again…

Anxious to hear the words I know my father heard to the thunderous applause of those who witnessed the life he led

well done good and faithful servant… now life really begins!

I love you daddy! Amen!



Published in: Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 2:28 am  Comments (6)  

Laus Deo! The Month of May

May 31, 2012

As I write these words I am still not sure what to say. A couple of months ago I felt the same way as I wrote about a young man, Matt Waller, only sixteen years old and how he was snatched from this life in the tragic moment of an auto crash. The point of the story was trying to find a reason to praise in the face of such heartbreak.

As I sat to write the story I thought at first, what right did I have to even consider Laus Deo in the face of such tragedy? If you missed the first story, Laus Deo is Latin for Praise be to God and it is also the phrase inscribed at the top of the Washington Monument. Several times I considered not writing the piece but it simply would not leave me alone and so I wrote what I felt I had to.

It is what scripture tells us to do, to praise God even through the sadness. We are told to look for the good that will come in all things for those that love God but it is sometimes the hardest thing we are called to do.

That is where I am again today. Not really sure what to say but knowing it needs to be said. You see, the month of May 2012 is forever a part of our family history.

The month began with my husband again having heart issues. Nothing terribly major but a major annoyance and something we were hoping would stay quiet. Especially since I had just lost my job and our insurance benefits. Still, we knew we could face the renewed issue. God had seen us through this many times over the past few years.

As we began to make arrangements for my husband to get the follow up care he would need we received word my husband’s father had been admitted to the hospital to repair a broken leg but there was a problem.

Clarence Vivio, Moola to his friends had fallen from his porch the week before and had not awakened from the surgery required to set his broken leg. On May 2, 2012 my father in law passed away.

We began to make hasty arrangements to go north. My husband had worn a heart monitor for a couple of days in the midst of the chaos but his pending heart issues were pushed aside as we prepared to say goodbye to a man that had lived seventy-eight years.

Clarence had out lived his wife Rita for five years and most would say he was ready for a reunion but for those left behind good-bye is never easy. My heart broke for my husband and his siblings, especially his only sister. Is it ever easy for daddy’s little girl to say goodbye? It was hardest for her I think… or so it seemed… but having raised four boys myself, just as my in-laws had done I know they grieve differently… but just as deeply.

The service was beautiful, a Catholic Mass, topped off with a poem written just for Clarence from a life long friend and the declaration from our niece that her grandfather did in fact know Jesus Christ.

She had decided someone needed to ask her grandfather, what many assumed, just to make sure. She had told him she was a Christian and wanted to make certain he would be in heaven with her. When she asked if he knew Jesus was God’s Son and had died for his sins, his reply was, I learned that in first grade. She said but do you believe it? To which he smiled and nodded he did.

As we laid Clarence to rest conversation quickly turned to the reunion he and Rita were having. The time we spent with my husband’s family was a beautiful reflection of a life lived and a legacy left behind.

As we returned to Tennessee we began to slowly return to our normal routine. My husband had a business trip scheduled and I decided to go along. I was unemployed so we decided, why not? I could use a break and he would like the company. Our kids are all sixteen and above so we were sure they would survive just fine on their own.

We had a great time. He went to the conferences while I rested, caught up on some reading and a few writing projects. The four days went by too quickly and as we headed home my husband’s doctor called to schedule a hospital stay the next week. They were changing his heart medication and would need to admit my husband to the hospital for observation. Not exactly the news we were hoping for but after the few days break we felt renewed and faced the challenge with optimism.

The following Wednesday I drove my husband to Vanderbilt Hospital and checked him in. He was fine so I left after an hour or so and went to join our church for the mid week services. The lesson and worship time was great. I left feeling better than I had in weeks but really worn out from the days events.

I talked to my husband, told him good night and went to sleep as soon as I got home. At 3:00 A.M. my phone rang. It was one of those calls you get in the middle of the night and you know there is something wrong.

My first thoughts were of my husband in the hospital, could something have happened? I answered the phone quickly and discovered the voice on the other end was my brother in Kentucky. Our father had just had a stroke and was on his way to the hospital. He and my mother were still in the car following the ambulance. Even though my brother had told me things didn’t look good, I still felt my dad would pull-through. An hour later my brother called again from the hospital in Kentucky, dad was non-responsive and they were flying him to Vanderbilt.

All the way to Nashville I prayed. I knew God could heal what doctor’s could not so I began to ask for a miracle. I arrived at the hospital before my dad. I called a friend that has a daughter working with the Life Flight program at Vanderbilt. I was hoping for some insight as to when the helicopter from Kentucky would arrive. As I was talking with my friend my husband called from his room on the seventh floor. He could hear a helicopter about to land. It had to be my dad. I rushed into the emergency room and after a few minutes was allowed to join daddy in trauma.

Nothing can prepare you for the moment you see a loved one lying in the trauma bay at Vanderbilt Hospital. I had been there before with one of my sons after a car accident but from the moment I stepped into his room I knew he was injured but would be okay, with my dad it was much different, my fears had been confirmed. Non-responsive meant completely unaware or what seemed to be unaware but that didn’t seem possible. He was fine just a few hours earlier. He and my mom had a great evening. They actually fell asleep holding hands she told me later. He had joked and visited with his friends at church that night and had spent the entire day on the tractor in the field.

How could things change so quickly… in a moment? I continued to pray and the doctors continued to advise me there was simply no hope. My mother, brother, one of my nephews and a family friend arrived right after my dad. We all knew but continued to hope and pray.

It wasn’t long till my sister, her son and granddaughter joined us as well. Over the course of the next twenty-four hours several more family members and friends joined the bedside vigil as we prayed to God for a miracle… begged daddy to hear us… move just a little… give us some hope… but finally on May 18, 2012 at about 3:00 A.M. we let go and let God call him home.

An hour or so later I went upstairs to see my husband as my family headed to Kentucky to make plans for a funeral that seemed impossible to consider.

Daddy had been fine one minute and the next… but hadn’t that been the same for Matt… for Clarence… One minute my father in law was simply reaching out to open the door from his front porch… the next he was lying on the ground with a broken leg that would lead to his last moments with us as well.

How things can change in a moment… an hour… seven days…  a month?

In those moments how hard is it to always say Laus Deo? Especially when life can be so hard?

I think back on Matt’s parents and loved ones again and how I doubt they will really see the Laus Deo of their experience till they can look back on this life… reunited in eternity with the one they love and lost so young.

Maybe that was why I needed to write about Matt. To prepare me for my own moment of Laus Deo! Through tears.

It is a lesson we all must learn. Christ told us all this life would be hard. It is not a surprise.

And so even now as my own heart breaks…

I still can say…

Laus Deo! For lives lived well.

Laus Deo! For legacies and loved ones left behind.

Laus Deo! For Jesus Christ and the Christ like love shown to us all.

Laus Deo! For the eternity to come.

And again with a heavy heart of grief I struggle but still I say… Laus Deo! For the Month of May.

Clarence J. Vivio

July 21, 1933 – May 2, 2012

Larry A. Wilson

August 28, 1938 – May 18, 2012

Published in: Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Laus Deo! The Last Seven Days

April 4, 2012

Laus Deo! Laus Deo! And I say again Laus Deo! For the last seven days. The first time I really noticed this phrase it was in an email Glenn Beck sent me. The salutation said simply Laus Deo! When I saw it I thought I should probably know what it meant but couldn’t quite place it. So I googled it. Laus Deo is Latin for Praise Be to God and it is also the inscription on the top of the Washington Monument. I loved it and from that moment on I stole Glenn’s idea and began to include the phrase in my correspondence.

For the last seven days those two words keep coming to mind.  As you read through this you will not understand at first but hang in there you will.

A lot can happen in seven days. It was exactly one week ago today that I was sitting just where I am now tired and frustrated asking God for something new. Later that night I told friends about my frustration and how I had sat that afternoon for an hour on the bridge over the creek that runs through our property just praying. I was restless. After twenty-eight years my job no longer felt right. It was a good job though with great perks. I could never walk away.

The next morning one hour into my shift I was told to join a conference call at ten. I did my updates, which consisted of recording traffic reports for Memphis and Nashville then dialed into the call. Within about sixty seconds of hearing who else was on the line I knew. I had just aired my last traffic report on a station that had been as much a part of me as my trademark name, U-Turn LaVern, for over twenty-eight years.

From that initial, “we’re going in a different direction…” I heard little else. My friends asked me if I saw it coming and honestly? It’s radio. I had seen it coming since I started the job in 1984. There was never a guarantee.

The rest of the day was spent on the phone letting a few friends know what had happened so they would hear it from me, not the wind. It wasn’t until the next day, after signing my separation agreement that it really sunk in. I was off the air in Nashville for the first time in nearly thirty years.

The next twenty-four hours were tough. Slowly I began to resolve the circumstances in my mind. I had asked God for something new. I was just hoping to find it on my terms.  Since God appeared to be insisting He knew best, I prayed for direction and started looking through the job listings.

As Sunday rolled around part of me just wanted to stay home. I teach teens at my church and I knew I would have to fill them in. I didn’t want to. They thought my job was cool.

I walked into the church looking for my son’s coach. I knew I needed to get upstairs to talk to the kids but my footballer had been at a football combine all weekend. I wanted to give his coach an update. As soon as he walked up I started filling him in. My son had done well and I was anxious to see a big smile on the coach’s face but instead he just stood there. It took him a moment but he finally said “Did you get a text this morning?” I am sure from the look on my face it was obvious I hadn’t so he continued. You could tell he had something to tell me that he could hardly bear to say. He told me one of my son’s teammates had been killed in a car accident the night before. Matt Waller, Gator to his friends, just sixteen years old had lost control and hit a tree.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around what he was telling me. It didn’t seem real but as he continued, relaying what few details he knew it started to sink in. I gave him and his wife a hug and told them I would see them later in the day at the high school.

I had to let my son know. He was still at the combine with his dad. I called my husband and he assured me he would wait until he could get our son alone to give him the news. Then I went upstairs to see if the news had made it to the teen center. It had and the kids were having the same reaction as me. A look of stunned silence wrapped around them. As we started the class telling them about my job situation was completely forgotten.

As it so happens, the lesson for the day centered on how sometimes bad things happen for good. The obvious focus quickly became, how do we see that now? I agreed with the kids. I could not step away from the hearts of the parents that had just lost a son. I told them it may be in heaven as they look back on this life before they can smile and say, “I see,” but I said we will see great good as those who loved Matt encircle his family and friends and love them through this.

Still the questions and focus returned again and again to the horribleness of it all. Finally I shared with them an illustration, one of the best I have ever heard but I hate to use. It seems when this story comes up it is because something terrible has happened and we are trying to make sense of it all.

It’s a story told to me by a grieving mother. She had just lost her six-month old son to SIDS, a son that ironically would be nearly the same age as Gator right about now.

As I visited with her after her son’s death I was struck by her strength. I was a mess, absolutely overcome with grief for my friend. As we stood there talking she told me a story her pastor had shared with her that week. She said we have to think about life as a river. It flows easily along most of the time but occasionally a ripple will form from the pebbles that fall into every life along the way. At times there are splashes when larger intrusions fall into our lives and occasionally there is a boulder so large it threatens to stop the flow of the river forever. But the river of life is strong and as time wears on even the edges of the boulder will smooth as the water struggles at first but continues to flow. She said those boulders are always with us. They are not forgotten like the splashes and ripples of life but even their edges smooth and so do our hearts, changed forever but able to continue on.

As we dismissed class I decided to tell the kids about my job. I wanted them to see how extraordinarily insignificant it was. It was nothing more than a ripple or a splash and maybe even a blessing and an opportunity to take in the view from a different path.

That night we all converged on the High School, Goodpasture Christian School. The only thing tougher than watching children grieve for one of their own is watching parents and siblings grieve for a child taken long before their time.

The evening was long and difficult as the long goodbye began.

The last few days have been filled with stories, tears and overwhelming grief. The kids have spent much of the last few days sitting in Gator’s empty parking spot at school. It has become a makeshift memorial to the young man with the mischievous smile.

They put a cross in front of the tree that claimed their friend. Car and truck windows are covered with messages of love and remembrance and they are now preparing for the funeral that is being held at the high school. Matt and all the football players will wear their jerseys to the memorial and I suppose the number 59 will be retired as Gator takes it to heaven.

The last seven days? The primary election continues. Tornados hit Texas. There was a campus shooting in California and the Wildcats won the NCAA.

And so I say…

Laus Deo! For doors that close as gates are thrown open.

Laus Deo! For friends who hold us up when we don’t have the strength to stand on our own.

Laus Deo! For the God in heaven who smoothes the edges of the heaviest boulders that crash into our lives.

Laus Deo! For the precious souls that pass through this world and let us see heaven in their smiles.

And with a heavy heart of grief I struggle but still I say… Laus Deo! For the last seven days.

Matt Waller


September 26, 1995 – April 1, 2012

Published in: Uncategorized on April 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm  Comments (2)  

Why Christ Had to Die

I rotate with a group of three teachers in our Sunday morning eighth grade Bible class. We have an online curriculum we follow with topics listed on a website each week. This week’s lesson was centered on the Messianic prophecies and why Christ was born the way He was born, lived the way He lived and why He had to die for us.

One of the primary focuses of the lesson was that all of these things happened to fulfill prophecy.

Over the course of the last several years I have read most everything written by Bodie and Brock Thoene.  They are a husband and wife team, she is the primary writer and he is a historian. Together they have written novels that are so solid in historical fact they are used in many university classrooms to help students gain a better grasp of history and the life experience of the time period they are studying.

They have written extensively about the early west in the United States, the rise of the Nazi party and the Jewish people through World War II, on into the establishment of Israel as a country and a few years ago they began publishing their latest work which is a historical novelization of the time period when Christ lived.

It is within those novels that I gained a better and more significant understanding of why Christ was born the way He was born. Of course the City of David was the town of the prophecy but also significant is a historical observation the Thoene’s make in their novels.

Bethlehem was the home for the shepherds responsible for the lamb sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem. Probably because of convenience those traveling to Jerusalem opted to purchase a lamb upon their arrival and history shows that the Bethlehem community was responsible for providing those lambs. So not only was Christ born in the city of David as prophecy foretold but the last Lamb sacrifice was born among the lambs set aside for the temple as well.

The Thoene’s, also make a beautiful illustration of why Christ had to die in a little book they published for Christmas called “Why a Manger?” In this book Bodie tells of a Christmas back in 1985 when their young eve had suddenly died giving birth and left a motherless lamb. The same night another ewe in their flock had given birth to a still born lamb. Unsuccessfully they tried to coax the surviving ewe into accepting the orphaned lamb.  

Finally the veterinarian said he knew of an old trick shepherds used to help an orphan lamb be accepted by a different mother but it wasn’t pretty. It involved hiding the live lamb under the fleece of the dead lamb.

They agreed it was worth a try and after taking both lambs away the Vet and Brock returned with the live lamb wrapped in the fleece of the ewe’s stillborn baby.

The lamb was placed in the feeding trough, ‘the manger’ so the ewe could discover the lamb on her own. I am sure by now you can see where this is going.

The Thoene’s and the vet stepped back and watched as the ewe began to sniff at the orphan lamb recognizing the scent of her lamb she nudged the lamb out of the trough and encourage the lamb to nurse. Wrapped in the fleece of her lamb she now accepted the orphaned lamb as her own.

But it doesn’t end there.

On Saturday as I wrapped up our schools 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. I had about 5 minutes to grab lunch and sat briefly with a friend in the Reagan Center. Knowing Beth loved a good Bible study I began talking with her about the illustration I just shared with you from the Thoene’s book.

Beth was raised on a farm like I was but had more experience with livestock. When I finished telling her of the Thoene’s Christmas in the stable her eyes lit up and she said. “Now I know why we are having lunch together even if it is only for a couple of minutes.” she said she also remembered how difficult it was to try and get an adoptive mother to accept a orphaned offspring but knew that the key was to get the baby to nurse and the scent of the mother would spread throughout the baby and she would recognize it as her own. I looked at her a little confused not really understanding her point at first until she said, “Don’t you see? That is the Holy Spirit.”

Then it hit me, how the illustration was now complete with my rushed ‘accidental’ lunch encounter.

Christ the last Lamb sacrifice covers us in His blood making us acceptable to His father just as the still born lamb did for the orphaned lamb. Then once accepted through drinking in what the father has to offer the Holy Spirit fills us up with His essence. The more we drink the stronger that essence becomes allowing us to not only be a part of the family but to stand out with His Aroma for the world around us.

I then reminded the kids it is not our works, our deeds, our church attendance or our observation of religious holidays that save us but the blood of Christ. However, when we drink from what God has to offer, the study of the word, fellowship with our Christian family, working with those in need. That is when the Holy Spirit fills us up to over flowing and the Light of the Holy Spirit Shines

2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Happy Easter

God Bless

LaVern Vivio

Published in: on March 31, 2010 at 10:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Politics of Bitterness

I am a broadcaster, a part of the media. I’m a traffic reporter. Nothing more: Back in the day traffic reporter sometimes meant side kick, wise cracking extra or an actual place on a broadcast morning show or afternoon drive team. Not so much anymore but that’s OK it is still radio.

I work mid-days now 10:30 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. I start my day with our local Talk of Tennessee Republican, Steve Gill and at 11:00 join the Rush Limbaugh show followed by Sean Hanniety and sometimes – if I fill in during the evening – I get to plug in traffic reports for the delayed broadcast of the Glenn Beck Show.

I get the whole Republican – Conservative talk radio thing up one side and down the other. I am a registered republican but have not referred to myself as anything but a conservative for some time and now I think I am leaning towards the libertarian way of thinking. I doubt I will change my allegiance however – partly out of respect for Ronald Reagan and also because I now think it makes absolutely no difference.

My complete disillusionment with all things Republican began when those we sent to Washington forgot the foundations and principals that I always thought the Republican Party stood for. Limited government, less tax, limited government, state rights, limited government, personal responsibility, limited government and oh yeah one more, limited government!

I began to try to sort out what I could support and what made sense from what just simply went against everything I believed in. As the primaries began in 2007 and on to 2008 I hoped, wished and yes prayed for a candidate to step up that would reign in Washington and get us back on track. As someone who has watched the political circus for over 25 years from a broadcast studio I am acutely aware that far too often you have to go with the lesser of two evils. Not to say politicians can be evil but you get my meaning sometimes you have to hold your nose and pull the lever for the one that makes you the least nauseous. Wow, that does not sound good either.

As the Republican primary ran down and it became clear the Democrat candidate would be either Hillary or Obama the Republicans had a choice to make – not just as a party but as individuals in that party. Who would be the candidate most likely to win – not just who could use the media to manipulate the primary but who could win and in turn protect the very foundation this country was built on – or they could just punt. They punted and the Dems ran it all the way down the field as we stood out of their way barely challenging the clear problems and associations of who we all know eventually became our President, Barrack Obama.

So now we feign surprise, shock, and dismay as he changes the principals and the guidelines laid down by our founding fathers. We are no longer the shinning city on the hill but the village full of bitterness and selfish ambition fed by disappointments that come to every life but when allowed to fester eat away at our souls.

Let me share a personal story with you. In 1978 my sister married an African American, we are Caucasian. This did not go over well in our rural Kentucky community. It was a tough time for us. It was hard, it was not fair, but you know what? That’s life.

For many years I let my disappointment and anger feed a bitterness that lead to a self loathing and selfishness that nearly destroyed my life. Thank God – and yes I give Him complete credit – I finally moved on, got over it, put on my big girl pants and started dealing with the truth behind the bitterness. I began to see people who did stupid things that would always be stupid and good people who just failed to do anything. I learned to forgive and to ask for forgiveness and very quickly my soul began to heal.

As I have witnessed the last year in the abyss we call politics the one thing that continues to come to mind is that we are now seeing the politics of bitterness. I am certain there were times in a young black African American woman’s life from Chicago that were downright mean. I think I can say with complete certainty that a young man with a very mixed heritage felt very alone at many crucial moments in his life. There are countless stories and I suppose and can probably guarantee we have all had our share of astounding disappointments and moments that were so full of injustice that we nearly gave up.

Fortunately for many of us – something or someone came along – and like a hypnotist snapping his fingers to bring a subject out of a trance – said just the right thing or showed us a pure unselfish kindness that renewed our faith.

Unfortunately – sometimes the wrong person or people come along – and those moments of loneliness, anger and down right meanness become the seed of bitterness to cultivate and grow and fester into a longing for a “justice” so perverted that a lie becomes the truth.

There was a picture taken of Laura and George Bush as they welcomed Michele and Barrack Obama to the White House for the first time. It was so beautiful. It took my breath away as I thought of just how far we have come. I saw the beauty and the meaning so clearly but having paid very close attention to details that so many ignored I was also very concerned.

I remember what it felt like to have a bitterness bubbling up inside of me and wanting to make right what was wrong and for someone to be held accountable for my pain and the pain of any who had suffered.

I wonder now how my life would be different had I allowed the bitterness to direct my life. Maybe I would have been more ambitious but to what end? Would I destroy everything trying to remake it in the image that I and I alone thought would finally bring “justice”? I might succeed and feel victorious but behind the victory the bitterness would have lived and continued to consume not just me but everything I touched.

One definition Webster has for bitterness is an emotion or state of being caused from exhibiting strong animosity resulting from severe grief, anguish or disappointment. I’m so glad I finally realized that life is hard – it’s not fair but we overcome not by carrying endless animosity, grief, anguish or disappointment but by just being the best we can be and striving to leave what we have been handed at least as good as we got it and maybe just a little bit better.

The sad truth – there will always be stupid down right mean people doing stupid and down right mean things to those who do not deserve it – but we can’t hold an entire society accountable for the sins of the few.

What we can and must do is learn to forgive and to be forgiven – work to empower and reward the good – then get out of the way and let them do what they do best.

Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Blog About My Blogs

If you read what I write or listen to me speak you will often hear about my families racial experiences that began in the late seventies. I draw on those experiences frequently much like my preacher does on his former military career because they had such a profound impact on my life not because the events left me with a complex or deep seated grudge.

You will find the most important thing in my life is not a thing but my faith in God the Father and Christ His Son and that the second most important thing in my life is my family.

I think the one thing I struggle with most in regards to God’s law is that in all things He comes first and that includes over my children. Granted now that they are all teenagers it is not quite as difficult. But I often wonder what would I do if really faced with having to choose one over the other? My family is that important to me so I pray for strength in all things and for a faithful family that would never force me to choose between them and God.

I believe God blessed the United States of America and all anyone has to do is take a quick look at history to see we are a Christian nation, we were built on Christian principals and God has blessed us because we looked to him.

Notice I said looked, past tense. I do not feel we are still in God’s graces as a nation and that scares me to death. I find peace however in knowing we have lost our way before but eventually found our way home when we turned from our wicked ways, sought His faced and He heard our prayers and healed our land.

My thoughts are summed up best in a quote from Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, he said:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

I believe we will soon remember why we are blessed and by whom and I pray we will all continue at every opportunity to stand up and make our voices heard to remind all around us, we are blessed and can continue to be as long as we give credit where credit is due.

Now that you know a little more about me I invite you to read on and feel free to contact me with any comments you may have

God Bless

LaVern Vivio

Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

An open letter to the Republican Party

Enough already with the constant solicitation for donations disguised as party surveys. It has been several years since I held any hope my opinions were being considered. I will not respond to any donation request until the Republican Party returns to the conservative foundation which I found so refreshing when I joined the party and cast my first vote for Ronald Reagan.

Let me be clear, this opposition to my party should not be interpreted as disdain for President George W. Bush or for our nominee Senator John McCain. I have an enormous amount of admiration and respect for both men that will not be marred by my dissatisfaction with many of their policy decisions.

I first became puffed up with pride over President George W. Bush when in the early primary debates he declared without concern for anything but absolute truth that the person he most admired was Jesus Christ. As he won the primary and later the presidency I found so much peace in the knowledge that President Bush regardless of anything else was a man of God. I was hopeful we would see a change in Washington from a cut in spending to possible Tort reform. However, the events of 9-11 pushed aside any agenda and my entire focus became national security. That is still the single most important issue for our nation and the world. Most fail to realize just how vital the war on terror continues to be but as for me and my house we get it.

What we fail to understand are programs such as prescription drugs, no child left behind, oil and coal resources our country continues to ignore and restrictions on light bulbs! As President Bush approaches the end of his term I believe he will be best remembered for rising to the challenge and threat of terrorism but as we move forward we must begin again to support the agenda of the conservatives of America to survive as a party and win in the fall.

John McCain is not my first choice as a candidate. However, I doubt I could respect or admire anyone more than I do Senator John McCain. I simply do not understand how he can support the notion of global warming as anything but a normal climate cycle that was placed into rhythm at the time of creation by God. I continue to cringe at the notion of reaching across the aisle in the political world. Senator John McCain and President George W. Bush have both tried to offer a hand of comprise time and time again that is repeatedly bitten off. The original notion of working to unite the parties once appealed to me until I witnessed year after year the Republicans reaching across the aisle to find the democrats sliding further and further to the left until they have policies so centered and on the fence they fail to accomplish anything but more spending and continued discontent on both sides.

I will not hesitate nor would I ever miss an opportunity to cast my vote. However I vote this year as solely an effort of defense. While I am proud our nation has passed the notion of race and gender restrictions in regards to who can aspire to be president I am appalled at the lack of scrutiny given to Senator Barrack Obama by many in the media. I believe with all my heart he is bigoted and is only surpassed in his bigotry by his wife and those who have until recent weeks offered him spiritual advice. I myself have a black nephew and niece and have dealt with bigotry in every form since 1978. It lives and is gaining new breath in many communities. We must never ignore or try to explain it away but name it and turn away from it with certainty and commitment to facilitate true change in this nation.

The attitudes of those in the Obama camp are the attitudes of entitlement and victimization. Those are the same attitudes responsible for the disastrous response and evacuation of New Orleans. The government that failed in New Orleans is the one we have asked for by continuing to support a court system bogged down with frivolous lawsuits. We now have a system that must cross every t and dot every i a thousand times for fear of human error that would prompt lawsuits and litigation and places the true power of this nation at the feet of special interest groups, insurance companies and teams of lawyers.

Now so many are lining up for more of the same and the Republicans can’t seem to find the guts to stand up and say yes it is time for change. It is time for us to change the status quo and fix Washington. It is time for Washington to get out of the way and allow its citizens to exercise true freedom once again. I can only imagine the possibilities.

God Bless Our Precious Nation


LaVern Vivio
Springfield, Tennessee

Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Reverend Wright

As I grow older so many memories I would rather forget sometimes run through my mind. Memories are often spurred by the events of the day. Reverend Jeremiah Wright has reminded me again of how far we have come but how far we have to go.

The memories evoked by Jeremiah Wright’s comments bring tears to my eyes as I remember the fear I felt for my mixed race nephew back in 1979. My sister had married an African American and the hatred directed at our family because of a marriage and one of the sweetest little boys I have ever known is still hard to discuss. We have long made peace with those we love and have known all of our lives. So many of them just didn’t know what to do and to this day apologize for doing nothing. Very few we knew were hardened bigots but those who were made life hard for many years.

Reverend Wright reminds me of something so few want to admit, bigotry comes in all colors. The bigotry my family experienced came from the White and African American communities. Never have I felt more alone than during those days. So many I trusted and counted on let me down especially my grandfather. As I listened to Senator Barack Obama say earlier, “he could no more disown his pastor than he could the black community,” I remember how my grandfather disowned us.

If my grandfather was alive today he would be well over one-hundred years old. He grew up in a time of bigotry. So did his wife, my grandmother, her name was Sunshine.

If my grandmother were alive today she would be one-hundred and one. She like my grandfather grew up in a time that fed bigotry and racism but unlike my grandfather she knew it was wrong. My Grandmother also grew up in a time that interpreted the Biblical guidelines for Christian living which instructs women to submit to their husbands to mean: Do not challenge you husband’s authority even when he is wrong.

I wish I knew what my grandmother said or all she did to mend our family. The only evidence of her defiance to her husband came in my nephew’s birthday card.

We all received cards signed, Happy Birthday, Love Ma Ma and Pa Pa, as my grandparents were known to us. Without fail on your birthday, a card would arrive along with a crisp one dollar bill. As my nephew’s birthday rolled around the card arrived, dollar bill enclosed but it bore only one signature, Happy Birthday, Love Ma Ma. That one simple gesture spoke volumes but I often wonder if there was more. Did she ever have to look my grandfather in the eye and say you are wrong or did he see she would not be a part of his bigotry with the simple signing of a birthday card?

I have heard Reverend Wright and Senator Obama speak of tradition as an excuse for Reverend Wright’s comments. My grandfather grew up in tradition as well, a tradition of bigotry and exclusion. A tradition that ended thanks to the gentle and determined spirit of a woman who found the courage to speak out and not ignore or make excuses for attitudes that were indefensible.

My sister has told me she is sorry for what the family and I had to go through during those years. She and my nephew moved away after her marriage failed. I was still in High School and we all know how cruel kids can be. The last time she told me she was sorry I told her she did our family a favor. It took a catalyst to take us to a level of love and acceptance that so many still fail to embrace and she gave us a chance to honor and remember my sweet grandmother and her courage.

At the time of my grandfather’s death my family and my sister were not only fully reconciled with my grandfather but a couple of months ago my mother shared with me something I never knew. She said she walked into my grandfather’s hospital room just before he died. My grandfather was sound asleep and there curled up sleeping peacefully right beside him was my sister. When I let that picture run through my mind I know it is a picture and an ending made possible only because my grandmother refused to ignore or make excuses for her husband’s bigotry and helped him see things had to change and they did.

For our nation to move past the racial problems of our past we must find the courage to stand up and tell those in our midst who fuel situations of hatred and bigotry it’s time to move on and most importantly we must find the courage to simply tell them they are wrong. We can no longer make excuses or allow political correctness to prevent us from standing up to bigotry no matter where it lives or makes its home.

A sitcom is an odd place to find a profound statement on race but years ago in an episode of Designing Women the ladies were visiting an old African American woman in the hospital. She was nearly one-hundred years old. She knew she was on her death bed and the women commented on the history she had witnessed over the years. As the old woman reminisced through tragedy and joy she concluded by saying, “I know we are not what we ought to be and I know we aren’t what we are gonna be but at least we are not what we were.”

If we continue to ignore and make excuses for the voices of bigotry, hatred and separatism not only will we never get to what we are gonna be and ought to be but we will quickly find ourselves taking steps backward to what we were.

LaVern Vivio
April 29, 2008

Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 3:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kenneth Pease

This was originally written for the Paducah Sun, in Paducah, Kentucky. I wrote this just after there had been numerous stories about pictures of flag draped coffins coming back from Iraq.

Seeing the images of the flag draped coffins a few weeks ago took me back to the same image I see when I walk past the old army helmet that sets on top of a chintzy ceramic statue of an Eagle in my boy’s bedroom. It’s a helmet I purchased from an estate sale last summer. I display it in my boy’s room to remind them of a young man they’ve known all their life who wore the helmet years ago. They of course never really met him but they know he’s the reason their mom rarely makes it through The National Anthem without tears in her eyes.

Kenneth Pease worked for my dad and mom in the sixties. He was a hired hand on the family farm. He worked summers and after school for my dad until he graduated. I still have a picture of my sister and I with some of the puppies he and my dad found in the woods. Wild dogs have always been a problem back home. Many of the family pets I had while growing up were from litters of puppies rescued from the woods that border the fields along the creek bank. I still remember Kenneth and Daddy laughing while hiding these little black and brown puppies in their shirts.

I’m not sure if they were trying to surprise my sister and I or trying to hide them from my Mom.

I have many memories of Kenneth but none are as strong as the one the day he told us goodbye.

I don’t think I was surprised he was leaving. I knew he had gotten older and had other things he needed to do but the day he told me he was going to be a soldier was the day he became my hero. Not because I really understood what being a soldier during the sixties meant or even where Vietnam was but maybe it was because he seemed so excited and proud to be going.

I remember the day he left as well as I remember the day the phone call came. It was one of those calls that you knew wasn’t good news. Mom answered the phone and after hello she didn’t really say anything else but just started to cry. She bundled up my baby brother, put us in the car and headed to the field. My sister and I didn’t say a word. We didn’t ask what was wrong. Maybe we thought if we didn’t ask everything would be ok. As the car left the gravel road and headed down the dirt road between the fields we knew the news was bad. We never took the car to the field. Dad was on the tractor and I guess he saw us coming. You could see the dust kicking up behind us for miles. He had stopped working and had walked across the field to meet us. I don’t remember much after that

But I do remember the flag draped coffin and the picture of Kenneth in his uniform and how sad and proud I was all at the same time.

In the years after Kenneth’s death I never forgot him. I never really got to know his mom and dad or his brothers. I wish I had told his folks just how much he meant to me before they died.

Because of Kenneth I never meet a Veteran that I don’t thank nor a Vietnam Veteran that I don’t want to hug and say I’m so sorry for what you went through and then ask if the name Pease rings a bell.

It’s amazing how many of those from Vietnam still get a hollow stare when you ask them about the war. If you take a minute to talk with them… it’s not from the war… it’s from coming home.

His death showed me at an early age that the price of freedom is still worth fighting for because he fought for it. It’s not a price paid with cold hard statistics of causalities of war nor is it something that only our ancestors had to face.

It’s not a price paid with lives lost but with lives given by brave men and women.


…Hero’s that will always be represented for me by a giggling farm hand hiding puppies in his shirt and smiling bravely as he told a little girl goodbye because he was going to be a soldier.

LaVern Vivio

Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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