Saturday Morning Message: Items Our Loved Ones Left Us

Author: Carol Lane

Brandon with train bell

Good Morning,

A recent conversation with JoAnne, mother of Brandon, serves as the inspiration for this week’s Saturday Morning Message topic. She spoke to me about her son's love of trains, so I decided to use the photo she sent of her son with his beloved train bell as the opening image. You will read more about Brandon in the survivor response below.

In this week's Saturday Morning Message, there are so many special responses from survivors who shared items their loved ones left them. I am going to keep my thoughts short, so you can enjoy them.

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Responses from Survivors to last week's question

Tell us about an item that your loved one left you and why it is meaningful to you.


From JoAnne, mother of Brandon and Brooke, sister of Brandon:

Brandon had a great fondness for trains and was exceptionally proud of a very old train bell he acquired, took apart, cleaned, put back together, and constructed a pedestal for in the front yard of our childhood home in Athens, Texas. The bell sat for many years on its handmade perch and was a source of pride for Brandon every time he would come home.  When we moved to a new home, the bell came with us, but never has it found a place to be on display quite like it was before. With Brandon's passing in September of 2018, it became evident this cherished object would need a special display, one Brandon would have approved of and loved. It is currently undergoing a bit of a makeover and the details on how it is to be displayed are still under discussion, but it is imperative to make sure we take the time in such decisions, as Brandon would have done the same. 


Andres Legos

From Samira, mother of Andres:

I have all my son, Andres’ belongings, but this Lego Air Plane is THE C-130 plane my Son Andres worked on.

Andres loved to build with Legos. This one is so special, because it was the last one he made the last time I saw him alive. He built it and placed it there where it will be until I am with him.


From Kelsey, mother of Michael:

My son was a reader like me. When he was 12 he brought home a book from the school library, “Ender's Game” by Orson Scott Card. He was so excited that we read it together. I would lay on his bed as we read. Through the years we bought the series and in January of every year I start reading the series. It usually takes until March to finish. I feel close to him as I read.


Thomas nameplate

From Debbie, spouse of Thomas:

Tom left me many things which are very special to me, one of which is his white marble name plate. When I first met Tom, he was on USMC recruiting duty and had this nameplate on his desktop. When I look at it, I remember the day we first met - when he came jumping over the top of his desk to reprimand one of his latest enlistees and my disruptive student, Alan. Alan was in my junior level English class when I was student teaching and told me, “He didn’t have to listen to me, because he had joined the Marine Corps.”

My response to that was, “I want to meet THAT recruiter, if you think that you won’t need to listen to the person instructing you.” 

After school, Alan showed up at my classroom door and we walked the 4 blocks from the High School to the USMC recruiting office. Tom was sitting behind his desk and looked up at me standing in the doorway to his office and asked, “May I help you?”. I explained to him that I had problems with Alan in my classroom. As Alan sheepishly came around the doorway, Tom was jumping over his desktop to stand in front of him; instructing him to apologize and also stating that “He never wanted to see this young woman back in his office again.”


Hawaiian lei

From Sandra, mother of Joshua:

From the moment I stepped off the plane in Kailua, Hawaii, my life became a whirlwind of activity. My son greeted me with a grin and a big hug. We drove past lush forests, mountains, and a vast ocean. I was mesmerized by the sights. I arrived at my son's home on the Marine base and was greeted by his wife and my two adorable grandkids. My bedroom had a black bedspread with giant white Hawaiian flowers on it and there was a beautiful gift basket on the dresser. I went to my first luau, snorkeled, swam in the clear blue ocean, and shopped at the giant flea market. I ate giant pancakes, buttery shrimp and noodles, famous hot dogs, and all the foods known in Hawaii except for poi. I visited the Pearl Harbor National Museum, a hangar on a Marine Corps Base, and the military store.  I was also able to attend an airshow and watch the Blue Angels perform. What a performance! My trip to Kailua would be the best trip of my lifetime, thanks to my son. I have kept the lei that Josh bought me and the shell necklaces from the luau as a reminder of a beautiful memory.


If you would like to send a message commenting on one or all of the responses in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to and your thoughts will be passed along to them. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another.


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Self-care is important. Many survivors find that the nights are the part of the day that are hardest. So this week’s question is: What do you do when you find you are having difficulty sleeping? Let’s share what helps us when we find ourselves restless at night. You never know how a strategy you use might be helpful for someone else. We look forward to your responses. 

The Saturday Morning Message was created so survivors can share questions and read how others respond. Questions for future messages are always welcome. You can reply to this message or email In order to have your reply included the following week, it is best to send your response by Tuesday morning. Thank you to everyone responding this week and to those who read this message.


Recipe for the Week

silverware icon

From Carol, mother of Bryon: This is a salad I make can stand alone or be an addition to other foods for a great dinner. My daughter is now married and lives about an hour away. We know how important it is to just relax and enjoy each other’s company, so when she comes, I make the salad and she brings the pizza.

Special Salad 

  • Buy a head of lettuce or if you want something smaller. Most grocery stores sell packages of lettuce. I use one marked Caesar Salad. Put it into a bowl. 
  • Chop up an onion, cucumber, pepper or any other fresh vegetables you like. 
  • You can also add chopped pieces of chicken. 
  • Add salad dressing. When you buy the Caesar Salad package, the dressing is right in it and you have just the right amount. 
  • Mix together and it is ready to serve. 

We are going to try something a bit different for the Saturday Morning Message. On the first and third Saturdays there will be a song. On the second and fourth Saturdays there will be a recipe. Many of us don’t use exact measurements when we cook at home, so just give your best estimate. We are looking forward to seeing some new ideas from all over our country. 

You can send me favorite songs or recipes for this section at and include a note about why you like it. I would like to create a list of both for future messages.


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Other Items and Events of Interest

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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).