This is an amazing story on many levels. I found it through One Marine’s View. The story was sent to Captain B and posted by Major Pain and all I can say is WOW! Meet the Little Marine, Taylor.
Hello Captain B,
Let me introduce myself to you and then I have a little story for you to read about my exceptional daughter.
My name is Cathy, I am a housewife/ part time caterer with 2 wonderful children. Taylor Grayce, age 12 and Tanner Shay, age 9. Now earlier, I said I had a little story, but that is not really the case. I hope you have time because I am going to probably make your eyeballs cross by the time this is done.
Twelve years ago, I was blessed with the birth of my beautiful daughter Taylor. I know you have children, so I know I don’t have to explain the overwhelming feeling of love you have the first time you see your child. I have always wanted to be a mom, even when I was a child myself, I just knew it was my ‘calling’ so to speak…
Capt. B, from day one my daughter has had to fight and she has had to fight hard, every day of her life. Her struggles are many. Her first surgery was at 6 months old and she has since had to endure 5 others and we know she will have more. We always felt there was something else going on with her other then just her heart condition. At 10 years old, she already had 4 charts full just at her pediatricians office, not to mention all the specialist we had been bounced around to. She was very small for her age, and never healthy. She struggled with things that came so natural for other kids. To say that she has been medically traumatized by all the testing and poking and prodding and surgeries she has had is just about the biggest understatement there could be.
Finally, when she was 11, I couldn’t stand it any longer and insisted that we take her to Mayo Clinic to find out what was wrong with her. I had to take on our insurance company, and I had to fight all the way to the top as well as getting a state Senator involved. I was determined to get her there one way or the other and after months, I won and we were on our way. What we found out there, devastated me at first. It was that double edged sword, you fight to find out what is wrong but once you do, you wish you didn’t. After her 4th day there, they had pretty much a diagnosis, but didn’t have the blood work to confirm it. Mind you, 4 days there and they knew what it was versus 11 long years of misdiagnosis here. We found out she has a genetic chromosomal disorder. She is actually missing a chromosome. In that missing chromosome, she has lost miles and miles of genetic makeup. She is not mentally retarded like Downs, they actually have an extra chromosome. We found out that this condition only effects girls and it is extremely rare because only LESS then 1% of these girls are even born. Well what the hell more of a miracle do I need then that? That right there told me just how amazing she is and just how strong she is. In being born, she had already beat the odds…
Now, onto the amazing part. For what she has had to endure, for the amount of struggles she has had to do, she always has a smile on her face. She is so compassionate and so caring. She has this light about her. I know every parent feels this way about their child, but I kid you not……her light shines just a bit brighter.
Ever since Taylor was very young, she has always had a huge fascination with the military. If she saw someone in uniform, it is like she had this respect for them, even before she knew what respect was. As she has grew, so did the fascination. When the war in Iraq started, she always wanted to do something, I just never knew what we could do. One day, a little over a year ago, the website for anysoldier was passed onto me. Taylor and I sat down and we read almost every entry from that day. We came upon your posting and both of us were laughing about something you said about Elvis. But, I could tell by the way that you wrote, you more then likely had a huge following of supporters! So we kept on looking, but we always checked your postings and looked forward to them! As luck would have it, we came upon a Marine who posted GO BLUE (for the Michigan Wolverines) and that he loved the Detroit Red Wings. That was it, this was her man she choose to send to. She loves her Wolverines, as that is where she had her heart surgery at and she just loves the Wings.
She sat down and wrote out a letter to this Marine and then her and I went shopping. I had no idea on really what to get, so I asked her if I put her down in the middle of the field with not even her pooh bear and blankie, what would she want. At 11 years old, she set out on a mission and picked out things that I never would have thought of, and things that were so appropriate! I wrote a note about her to the Marine, as I wanted him to know about who was sending to him. I told Taylor that we probably would never hear from him, as he had a very important job to do. In Taylor’s grown up way of saying things, told me that it was OK, she wasn’t doing it for a letter back, she was doing it because it was the right thing to do. 11 YEARS OLD!! Amazing how she seems to get ‘it’ while most adults don’t and never will. We sent off several packages to this Marine and one day, we checked to see if he had any updates and were crushed to find out anysoldier had not heard from him and he was dropped. We knew as well that his time to go home was more then likely close. But, we thought, go onto someone else. A few days later, a box came for Taylor and I saw the customs form on it so I knew where it came from. I don’t know who was more excited, her or I! I got my camera all ready, for her little face was just aglow. She sat down in the middle of the living room floor, surrounded by my husband, my mom, her brother and myself. She opened her box and the first thing she pulled out was a boonie hat with a pin in it that we weren’t sure what it was (we later found out that it was the chevron this Marine was promoted to Sergeant with), and Marine shirt. Then she just sort of gasped, and so slowly, pulled out an American flag, folded into a triangle. She said ‘mom, look at what I got!’ with it, was a certificate that it was flown on a mission in her honor. She just sat there, holding that flag, staring at it. You know, the whole time this was all going on, I had that camera in my hand and never took one picture! I was so enthralled by her and what was happening, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her! She never let go of her flag, and I should add that this flag is by far, her most prized possession EVER. She found a letter and started to read it, holding her flag to her heart as she did. What happened next, I can only describe simply as life altering. She read the letter to us, speaking slowing and clearly. This young Marine told a bit about himself but then talked about her and how special she is. He told her who wonderful it was that she was trying to take care of them while they were out doing their jobs. He told her that her courage was amazing and her spirit was that of a Marine and because of that, he was making her an Honorary United States Marine. When she read that, she looked at me dead in the eye, with a tear rolling down and said in a tone I had never heard before, ‘I am a Marine, ooh rah’. With that, I swear, I saw something in her I had never seen. In that moment, that Marine had given my daughter what I had tried to her whole life. Her spirit just grew by leaps and bounds. I could actually not only see something in her, but I could feel it. Needless to say, I was bawling.
From that moment on, things have been very different for Taylor. She now faces her challenges head on. Instead of fighting against what is being done to her, she fights for it. I can remember the very first time she had to have something done after this happened, she walked into that room, head held high and chest just puffed out. She got up on that table, she still had tears, but she did it! When it was all done, she jumped off that table and ran to me yelling ‘I DID IT! I DID IT OOH RAH!’ All I could get out was OOH RAH baby, because my throat and emotions wouldn’t let me say anything else. The little things that used to frustrate her, just didn’t matter any longer. Her whole demeanor was completely different, it was like she wasn’t even the same person. Life altering.
Her and her Marine have kept in touch through email, and he was thinking of getting out of the Marines as he had been in for 8 years. She just got a surprise from him, he wrote to her and said he had decided to reenlist, as he liked helping people way to much! He lived in PA and is being transferred to Texas. He made a surprise visit to meet her. I never will be able to give this young man enough praise for what he has done for my child. In his one small gesture, in words on paper, changed our whole lives forever. How do you thank someone for that? And true to form, he claims he is nothing special. I beg to differ!
She has since picked out many others to send to, and even picked out someone from the Army, just to be fair! LOL She has a Marine Major that is keeping in great contact with her through email and it means the world to her, he tells her that her courage is inspiring to him.
While my daughter will never be able to join the service, never go through basic training, never get that Eagle Globe and never be able to wear the uniform, in her heart and soul she IS a United States Marine and she IS an American Warrior. I can’t even convey on just how proud I am of her for this. Her obstacles are many, but she takes them one at a time.
We just found out that she is going to go Bethesda Maryland at the National Institute of Health for some intensive testing. We are not sure on the dates as of yet, but were told that it might be in September. At first, Taylor did not want to go. I believe she remembered the hell she went through while at Mayo and just wasn’t up for that. Then, just as soon as she said she didn’t want to go, she stopped and did an about face. Her exact words….Marines don’t back down and I am not going to either, I want to go. We do know she will be tested from Sunday to Thursday. They are paying our way there and back, so I am not sure if she is going to be able to take in any of the sites in Washington and this has her a bit down. She really wanted to see Arlington, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. We knew there was a barracks there that did a parade, but I believe that is only up until August, so she will miss that.
Here is the reason I am writing. I figure you know ‘people’ right? I was wondering if you could put me in contact with someone, anyone that I can tell her story to and maybe see if I can’t get some Marines to come visit her while she is at the Institute when I get the exact dates? As I said, I am not even sure if we are going to be able to get out to see anything.
Taylor has met her special Marine, and to her that was gold. But, she has never met anyone in uniform. I would just love for someone to come in, talk with her in uniform and recognize her for the Marine that she is. I am not asking for anyone to give her anything, just someone to talk to her. Someone in uniform, that can salute her and make her feel that she is indeed a warrior. Can you help me? I can only imagine that you more then likely get a lot of emails asking for things and probably get pretty tired of it. I know you are busy, and if you can’t help, I do understand.
I thank you for your time in reading this, and as I said, I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me, but I also do not expect it.
I do not know what dates Taylor was in Bethesda, but there are pictures with Patriot Guard Riders here. Taylor has shown though determination, that she has the heart of a Marine. Not only have “her Marines” helped her to face her problems head-on, but she has encouraged those same Marines to work harder and to be better Marines themselves! They have truly inspired each other!