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A Surprise Visit For Memorial Day

A flag and a plaque that reads Jody Wirawan US Army IraqMy brother Jody is buried quite far from anybody that knew him, so even under the best of circumstances he doesn’t get visitors very often.

Jennifer and I visit as much as we possibly can but going there as much as we’d want to would cost tens of thousands of dollars each year. How do you decide exactly which handful of days out of a year to visit a loved one? It’s simply not enough time to cover all the important days.

And that’s one of the things that hangs heavy on my heart, especially on special days like Memorial Day. I always wish I could be there even for just a few minutes so that he could get a visit from someone that knew who he was and cares about him.

So as Memorial Day rolled around this year it seemed to be turning out bittersweet as usual. Jody was a veteran so I’m glad for this day that the country sets aside specifically to honor the service of all veterans. But of course my mind also went to the fact that Jody would once again not have anyone there that knew about him or his story… or so I thought.

Unbeknownst to Jennifer and I a plan had been set in motion a while ago. I don’t know too many details about that plan at the moment but I do know what became of it.

I was sitting on the couch and Jennifer was in the midst of checking her email when suddenly she froze and tears were welling up in her eyes.

‘What is it?’ I said looking over at her screen. I couldn’t really tell what it said and I gotta admit I was pretty worried as to what about that email was affecting her like this. Was this bad news?

‘You have to come see this Honey’ was her only response. Shit, it did sound bad.

Cautiously I got closer and peered at the screen, it was a picture of… a headstone with two flags over it… aww. It was Jody’s headstone.

A picture of two American flags above the headstone of Jody Michael Wirawan.

And of course I pretty much immediately started crying as well lol, especially when Jennifer began reading the email to me.

A friend of ours was travelling outside of Alaska with her mother and they both took a special trip out of their way to pay Jody a visit.

They wanted to make sure that he had a flag for Memorial Day so they brought one along just in case no one was putting flags out at that cemetery for the veterans.

When they got there some kind souls had indeed come through and put flags by all the veterans’ headstones, so this year Jody got something that I consider very special: an extra flag.

That flag might not seem like such a big deal to some but it means the world to me. It means that even though Jennifer and I couldn’t be there, Jody still had visitors who cared and was not alone this Memorial Day.

Jody Wirawan Memorial Day.

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First Maurice Sendak And Now Jean Craighead George?

A black and white picture of Jean Craighead George and a wolf, author of Julie Of The Wolves.;( Damn what a month. Just saw on Pinterest of all places that Jean Craighead George died on the fifteenth of this month from complications of a stroke (same thing that Maurice Sendak died of wth). She was ninety-two years old.

Jean Craighead George wrote a book that was a staple of my childhood: Julie Of The Wolves.

It’s a book about a very young (like thirteen years old) native Alaskan girl who was an orphan and made to marry an abusive guy that doesn’t even want to be her husband. And that’s just the beginning of the book.

She decides to run away from that crappy situation (an attempted rape that was the last straw for her) to try to reach a friend who lives far away, but gets hopelessly lost on the Alaskan tundra.

A picture of the book cover for Julie Of The Wolves by Jean Craighead George showing Julie in a parka with a wolf at top.Her only hope for survival is to draw on the traditional ways of her people and possibly befriend a wolf pack she comes across.

Apparently Jean Craighead George came up with the idea to write Julie Of The Wolves while on a trip to Barrow, Alaska to do research for an magazine article on wolves.

She had brought her son along for the trip and while in a plane he spotted an Eskimo girl by herself on the tundra. Her son commented that the girl “looked awfully little to be out there by herself.”

While in Barrow she saw many people communicating with wolves and met a woman called Julia Sebevan who taught her about “the old ways of the Eskimos.”

After having so much inspiration in Alaska Jean Craighead George went back home and decided to write a story about an Eskimo girl trying to survive alone on the tundra, basing the main character on Julia Sebevan.

Julie Of The Wolves went on to win many awards, including the Newbery Medal. And despite being a book that was one of the most frequently challenged by parents during that decade (due to the rape scene) it actually made it on to the shelves of my school library.

I drank up all stories about Alaska when I was a kid so when I saw the cool looking cover of Julie Of The Wolves and that the book was about Alaska it was a sure thing that I was going to take it off the shelf and finish it by the next day. I ended up liking the book so much that I bought my own copy and ended up reading it many times over.

So yeah what a loss to have Jean Craighead George pass away, she was such an amazing storyteller. I’m glad she had ninety-three years of life and that she decided to write Julie Of The Wolves, RIP.

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The Karate Kid (Hint Memoir) and Happy Birthday Honey!!

Happy birthday to my beautiful and amazing wife Jennifer, I love you so much Honey!

The hint memoir for today tells a story about the place she was born. You may have known that she was born in Japan but there’s another aspect to her birthplace that might surprise you…


A black, white, and red colored drawing of Mr. Miyagi from the movie Karate Kid.

She disarmed the knife wielding man, quickly throwing him down.

What else would you expect from someone born in the same place as Mr. Miyagi?

A small cartoon picture of Jennifer Wirawan. Jennifer Hint Memoir Month

What is a hint memoir?

More hint memoirs.

Feel free to post your own hint memoirs in the comments too if you want I’d love to read em :).