Archives for posts with tag: Gold Star parents

imageFlipping through the TV channels the other evening, we came upon “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” I felt the need to stop and watch for a few minutes. This was Luke’s show. Every time I see or hear someone mention the ninja turtles, I hear his sweet little boy voice singing:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Turtles in a hap shell
Turtle power!
This last line would be yelled, and yes, I know it’s supposed to be “Turtles in a half shell,” but he was only 4 and this is how he heard it.

We went as a family to see all three movies. Luke was so excited! I think their first movie was the first movie we took him to see. He was quiet through the entire thing because he was mesmerized. His only disappointment was that Michelangelo’s voice was a different actor.

He had many, many action figures of both good guys and bad guys, and each Christmas, this number would go up along with the latest accessories. We still have boxes of these in the basement.

At the time I not only knew all their names, I knew what color they wore and what weapon each used. I also knew the names of all the bad guys and the ancillary good guys. How could I not? This is what mothers do when their kids love something. Besides, he talked about them a lot!

Luke’s favorite was Michelangelo. I think this was because he identified with his smart alec nature.

Sammie used to get Luke to play Barbies with her by promising to play Ninja Turtles with him. Somehow, she always managed to get mad at him and not want to play anymore as soon as he got the guys out.

Luke’s bedroom is right above the living room, and when we first moved into our house, it had a wooden floor. He would play with his turtles and we would hear all the upstairs action as we attempted to watch TV or read. It wasn’t long before his room was carpeted.

Luke had t-shirts, pajamas, and birthday cakes with his heroes on them. His four year old birthday party had a ninja turtle theme. He and all the other kids thought this was great.

In 2011 we took four miniature ninja turtles to Luke’s grave for Christmas. I like to think this made him smile. Unfortunately, we had them still sitting on the dining room table when a workman came into our house fix our home security system. They disappeared. (And, yes, I see the irony.) Why? They had no real value to anyone but us.

So, next time you see or hear about the Ninja Turtles, think of a little boy who loved them that grew to be a greater hero than any of them.


Luke was in corps school at Great Lakes, Illinois. His dad, Wes, and I went to visit when he had a couple days leave. We decided to drive to Milwaukee because none of us had ever been there.  We really liked the city, although Wes was having a hard time driving because the stop lights were at the sides of the road rather than in the center of the intersection.  Luke yelled to him to stop more than once. Luke and I found this quite amusing, but I think Wes was getting frustrated with himself.  

After spending a little time in the city, one of us, probably Luke, pointed out the fact that we were relatively close to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Now, there is one thing you have to understand about Luke, Sammie, and their father; they are, above all else, Packer fans. (I have become a fan, too, out of self defense.)  Well, upon realizing this, it was a short jump to piling back into the car and heading the rest of the way to the “homeland.” 

The ride to Green Bay was quiet, long, and boring. Luke was sleeping.  

Once there, we, of course, visited Lambeau Field and the gift store. Luke had his picture taken by Curley Lambeau and Wes had his picture taken by Vince Lombardi.  We all had pictures taken by Bart Star. In his picture, Luke is pointing to the future and the better quarterback, Brett Favre.  (This was an ongoing argument between Wes and Luke.) 

Of course Luke wanted to eat at Brett Favre’s Steak House.  This was an experience.  They actually brought out the cuts of raw meat for you to choose.  This made me NOT want a steak, so I ordered a salad.  Wes, who already wasn’t feeling well, waited for us outside. Luke, having a stomach of iron, ordered and ate a steak.

The way back to Great Lakes was not quiet, long, or boring. Luke was awake and in rare form. He regaled us with stories about boot camp, corps school,and childhood. I can’t remember a time when I laughed so hard or so much. Luke had an amazing sense of humor!  One of my greatest regrets is that we did not record the entire ride.  

One of the childhood stories he shared was about finding a skeleton in the woods when he was small. The bones were hard to pull out of the ground, and he told himself that yanking them out would give him nightmares, but he really wanted them. This is the story I used to create “No Ordinary Bones.”

“No Ordinary Bones” is a picture book about Luke and his dog J’amy finding bones in the woods, digging them up and worrying about nightmares. I really enjoyed writing this story and creating the pictures to go with it. All proceeds from the sales of the book go to the Luke Emch Memorial Fund and the Semper Fi Fund for Wounded Marines.

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