Saturday Morning Message: Gifts from the Heart from our Loved Ones

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

This week, survivors were asked to write about the gifts of personality that our loved ones gave us just by being themselves. I hope you enjoy all the responses that came to us.

Debra, wife of Thomas sent this picture of her husband, Tom, and told us about his gift. Debra wrote, "One of the most memorable gifts that Tom always gave to us at Christmas was his love, time and patience when it came to gadgets and toys. Tom would patiently assemble or figure out how a toy should operate whenever one of "his girls" wasn't sure what to do. He often would sit on the floor with our two granddaughters and be subjected to being adorned with the Christmas bows from their packages. Tom always managed to find and buy the perfect presents for everyone, but his best gift was his love."

Debra's Husband Tom assembling a Christmas Toy

Remember, you can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. I look forward to hearing from you. My email address is

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Since the upcoming two weeks may be busy for you and for those of us who put the Saturday Morning Message together, I thought it important to pose a question we've asked before that always evokes a thoughtful response. Because of the holiday, we have an early deadline this week; please submit your responses by Sunday night. The question is: What have you done recently or plan to do to take care of yourself? You may give other readers ideas on what they can do. It is always helpful to share our thoughts. We look forward to your responses. 

I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.


♫ Song for the Week

When Allicia, daughter of Burr, sent the songs for this week, she wrote, “My cousin, Andrew Tolman, met Dan Reynolds at Brigham Young University. They were both reputable musicians who collaborated and started the group Imagine Dragons. Andrew and his wife Brittany ended up leaving the band after a few years, but are still close with the band members. Andrew helped write both these songs. Andrew's younger brother, Brennan, is now a drummer in the Air Force Band. 

I've always loved “It’s Time”...very motivational and empowering. And the song “America” Listen to'll want it on repeat!

You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. 


Answers from Survivors

Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: What was one gift your loved one gave to the family just by being themselves?

From Cassandra, wife of Zacharias: Zach gave me the gift of strength and the ability to move forward without him. He and I talked about what we would want for the other if one of us passed, and I am doing it. Sometimes through sheer strength of will. He didn't want me to grieve him for the rest of my life. He wanted me to find love again and to be happy. He made sure I was well taken care of financially. He always wanted me to follow my dreams, just like he did when he joined the Navy and flew as a loadmaster around the world on his C-130 Hercules airplanes. 

He gave me the gift of love. Opening my heart to the world of fostering children. Opening my heart to him, to the wonderful time we had together alone, with the foster kids and with our families.

He gave me the gift of courage. The courage to dream big, to take big chances, to make big changes. He taught me how to bend instead of break. As much as I wish some days that I had broken the day he suicided, I didn't. I bent hard and I am still in the process of strengthening back up. I don't ever think I'll be exactly the same, but then again, we never are. As we go through life, we change day to day, never the same as we were before. Zach helped me to understand this more fully, to embrace the change and to bend.

From Sheryl, mother of Adam: There are many things I miss about Adam. My first thought was Adam's ability to make people laugh. One of my favorite Christmas memories is of Adam and his father doing a disco rendition of We Three Kingsincluding choreography. My daughter and I laughed so hard we were crying. On one of our last evenings together, Adam entertained us with an Irish accent.

From Samira, mother of Andres: Andres gave me a wonderful time. For me, he was the best kid God could give. There were no problems with Andres. Andres never did drugs, had tattoos, or partied out. What greater gift than this?

Before joining the Air Force, he said, “Mom, you are very intelligent.” When I asked why, he said, “Because you gave me Legos, video games and took me to theme parks. I never hung around with my friends in the street.” I said, “I am glad you found that out two weeks before going into the Air Force!”

When he was serving in the Air Force, he was a great crew chief with all honors. After he passed away, I received honors from Germany and Japan. The reason I can survive is because he gave me a wonderful time.

From Sandra, mother of Joshua: Joshua brought love, energy, comfort and strength to our family. When he flew in to visit us, he surrounded us with love. My son had already planned the week for us in his mind over and over again. That is what Marines do. They plan. There was a whirlwind of activity. We would all go out to eat in a restaurant that Josh had heard was really good. We would bring his girls to something special that was going on in Houston. We would stop at Starbucks for coffee and cake pops. There would be a movie that he wanted to go see with my husband and his brother. One time my son took me to a gun range. It was a crazy experience, but I had so much fun. Josh was always looking out for us and always had our back, too. If his daddy needed help making repairs on the house, he was right there ready to help him. My son would clean the house, cook dinner, take out the garbage and mow the lawn. Josh was there for us. He was also a wonderful brother to our youngest son who has a disability. He was also there when times were tough like when Hurricane Allison came through and flooded our house, when I had shoulder surgery, when my mom died and when finances were low. Our son gave us strength to stand up and go on even when we were beat down. We were a tight-knit family. Joshua gave us so much love and joy.

If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who participated in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to me at and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.

Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS Family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).