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thedrifter
10-06-05, 06:28 AM
Gold Star mom has a gift for young survivor
Published: Wednesday, 10/05/05

The G.I. Joes were still in their original boxes, each one carrying an action figure for a branch of the military.

In fact, these G.I. Joes were considered collector edition keepsakes, so they had never been opened.

But there was a greater value assigned to these toys that no box could ever signify.

These G.I. Joes were the property of Timothy Creager of Millington, Tenn. He'd grown up with them. He used them for inspiration for what he ultimately wanted to be. And Lance Cpl. Creager died a Marine in Iraq being and doing what he dreamed of and believed in.

But the story doesn't end there. After losing her only child in Iraq, you'd think Tim's mother had surely given enough to this nation and its people. But in one of the most selfless acts I've ever witnessed, Kay Creager gave the collector edition G.I. Joes to the grandmother of 8-year-old Anthony Best, who is fighting bone cancer. Anthony also worships the Marines and the military. And his uncle, J.D., returned earlier this year from Iraq with his Marine artillery unit that distinguished itself in the Battle of Fallujah.

"I knew what it meant to his mother, to give away one of his childhood toys," said Teresa Hobbs of Murfreesboro. "It practically took my breath away. It was such a loving gesture. And for her to give those to my grandson who is also into the Marines and the military, words can't describe ."

The most defining and inspiring aspect of human nature often comes when things are at their worst. Then we often are at our best, our most heroic, our most selfless.

It is the single most visible proof of God's existence. And Kay Creager's gift shows how so many of these Gold Star mothers go about their lives after the unthinkable happens. Behind the scenes and with few words, she gave away her son's keepsakes after an event honoring her and 11 other Gold Star families and their loved ones last month in Franklin.

"When I was at Kay's house doing the audio for the Gold Star Banquet, she showed me the G.I. Joe collection and asked me about giving them to Anthony," said Donna Clemons, president of a grassroots group called Tennessee Marine Family. "What a heartfelt gesture on her part to be able to pass those G.I. Joes on to a little boy."

And a heroic gesture because Kay Creager remains in a lot of pain. The loss of her son decimated her life. She says very little. But her faith has kept her going. She still serves her country as a VA nurse. While the journey is harder than most of us can ever imagine, she continues to meet the hardship with kindness.

Hobbs said Creager told her that she has been sharing some of her son's things with other people and places.

"They're (Gold Star mothers) each trying to find their own way to go on," said Hobbs, mother to J.D., who just returned from Iraq.

"All these mothers have an enormous love for their sons. I'm just so touched and extremely honored for them to share so much with me. It is common with Marines that all of our kids played with G.I. Joes. So I knew what it meant to his mother to give away one of his childhood toys."

Hobbs' grandson is recovering after surgery that removed part of his shoulder and upper arm bone. He still faces a series of chemotherapy treatments that require his hospitalization for several days each time at Vanderbilt. He was first diagnosed in January. And he first faced cancer as a baby when he had two surgeries to remove a brain tumor, followed by three and a half years of chemo.

But he is brave. And his bedroom is a museum to Marines.

"Anthony was extremely worried about J.D. when he was in Iraq," Hobbs said. "Now he continues to worry about all the Marines. We can't watch the TV news."

As for the gift of the G.I. Joes: "He was in awe, just like any little boy, when they see anything special." As for his future: "You can't look at him and not believe in God, and that he has some master plan, because Anthony has survived his battle."

And you can't think about this gift from a Gold Star mother in pain and not believe that God is with us, even in the most difficult times.

Published: Wednesday, 10/05/05

Ellie