Soaring Above New Heights

 Soaring Above New Heights

Last weekend was a very emotional weekend for me. I traveled to Fort Benning, GA to watch my husband, Milton, graduate from Airborne School.  He’d already finished his JAG training and now needed to successfully complete five jumps to also have the title of Airborne Paratrooper.

The five jumps were supposed to happen Monday-Wednesday.  On Monday they met at 4:30am, each were carefully inspected and then they waited to see if the weather  would cooperate.  They couldn’t eat, sleep, use the bathroom or really even touch any body part.  If they, for example, touched their belt it could come loose and they would no longer be considered fully inspected.  SEVEN hours later, they realized the wind was not going to let up and Monday’s jumps were canceled.

Similar things happened on Tuesday.  So now I’m starting to think it will be another week before my babe is able to finally come home to me. Uggg!  Luckily, they were able to get in four jumps between Wednesday and Thursday and they saved their fifth and final jump for Friday (Graduation Day).  This was exciting because I would get to see Milton jump live!

Friday morning rolls around and there are 400 men/women that will be jumping.  Although Milton doesn’t know when he’ll jump, he asks me to record all of the jumpers.  This seemed like an impossible task but I tried to be a good wife and comply.  I recorded the first three jumps for Milton’s plane and saw the guys as they started running in.  Of course I was looking for a “dark” spot running in.  A couple ran past, one had different posture than Milton, another had a bigger booty and another was too short.  In the distance I saw someone that looked like Milton.  I looked at his helmet number, yelled out his name, and he waved back!  My baby was safe, successful and had accomplished an amazing feat!

I had a surprise for Milton by inviting his dad to attend.  Milton’s face lit up when they caught sight of each other.  It was even more meaningful when they asked for second generation paratroopers to come forward and Milton’s dad was able to pin his wings from back in the day on Milton.

After graduation we quickly left to head back home.  Nine hours later Milton walked around the house reminiscing on all the things in our house he missed.  It was his first time since July 3 that he was was home and not leaving in a couple of days.  He’s already started work at Legal Services in Fort Knox.  And I am overjoyed because my husband gets to be a husband and I get to be his wife. Milton became one of my heros last weekend and I was proud to be Mrs. Turner…. now if I can only get rid of this loud snoring habit he’s seemed to pick up! Lol!

Click the photo below to watch the video of Milton’s jump, landing and graduation!

December 2011

Facebook Reunion

Facebook Reunion

Apr 11-4I survived my speech last week at Jefferson Technical Community College and everything went well.  I briefly mentioned a Facebook conversation that I had randomly received and here’s what it said (please note: I have never met, seen or heard of the person in this exchange)

Chris Wright March 21 at 2:20pm
“Hi Michelle, You don’t know me but I have to ask you a question. Your name and face kind of flew out at me when I saw it on my FB page and a rush of memories from the early 80′s came rushing back, so I looked at your pics and saw that your mother’s name was Lillian, but saw no pics or mention of your father; was your father by any chance Dr. Gary Yeager who worked at JCC in the early 80′s? If so, I worked with him at JCC during the time that you were born and remember sooooooo many wonderful stories about you as you were growing and what a proud father he was. If not, I so apologize for this intrusion. Please let me know. He was such a wonderful man. ~Chris Wright”

Michelle Yeager March 21 at 2:26pm
“Hello Chris, my father worked at JCC but his name was Thomas (Steve) Yeager. He was there from 1976 until he died in 1993.”

Chris Wright March 21 at 2:34pm
“Steve!! That’s it; Steve!!! I am so, so sorry. He worked with Gary Steedly in the continuing education dept, I was Gary’s admin at time; I mixed up their names. I am so sorry. But Michelle, I have goose bumps. I actually remember when you were born and as you were growing he would come in with some of the most awesome proud father stories. Two in particular that stay in my mind… one, the morning he came to work just laughing so hard because he said that every time he left to go to work, you would start singing “My Baby’s leaving on the train… until he comes back home….” ?? (i can’t remember that exact song, but he was just hilarious and so proud) And then… during the royal wedding of Princess Diana he said you watched every detail and were absolutely a princess and would marry the same way. Oh Michelle, it’s so awesome to have known those stories of your very early years and to have known such a wonderful man; I absolutely looked up to Dr. Yeager as a great inspiration. It’s wonderful to see you now and have those memories. May I friend you on here? My name is Chris Wright and I’m a web producer at WHAS11; that’s how I saw your exchange with Renee Murphy. I’m goose bumpy right now. hah. ;-)

Michelle Yeager March 21 at 3:11pm
“We definitely can keep in touch. He passed away my senior year of high school and my mother passed away from ovarian cancer five years ago so I cherish all stories I hear!
It’s interesting that you mentioned the royal wedding. I am actually getting married the day after Prince William’s wedding and Renee Murphy is my maid of honor”

…..And the conversation continued.  Who would have ever thought that a simple post on a friends page would connect me with someone that shared some amazing childhood memories of my father especially right before I get married.  To the tune of Walt Disney – “It’s a small world after all!”

April 2011

My Biggest Speech Yet

My Biggest Speech Yet!
I’ve been going since I was a kid.  30 years to be exact.
I was four years old when I first started attending because I was FORCED to.  There were no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  But, as time went on, I found that I truly looked forward to attending and would try to re-arrange my schedule in any way to attend.
I’m talking about the Student Acheivement (formerly known as Black Achievers) Program at Jefferson Community College (now JCTC).  You may question why I’ve attended this event for the most part of 30 years.  No, it hasn’t taken me 30 years to complete a degree.  I’ve been a part of the program for that long because my father, the late Thomas Stephen Yeager, created the program and the Black Affairs Advisory Council at JCC.
I can tell you, though, its a very uplifting ceremony and you hear stories of people that have overcome odds to better themselves and further their education.  The past several years there have been guest speakers and I have taken photos for OnyxLouisville.  But, to my surprise, this year I was asked to play a larger role.  I – Michelle Yeager – am going to be the guest speaker.
At first I was on cloud nine to be asked, but then all of the emotions hit me. Here’s a program founded by my father, that I’ve attended numerous times in the audience, that my mother (and then myself) passed out the T. Stephen Yeager Scholarship at and now they are asking me to be the featured speaker at the 30th Year of the event.  Whoa!!
I think for days before starting to write my speech.  I want to make it just right.  I don’t really know what to say.  Do I write about my personal accomplishments and success?  Do I talk about the great influence my parents were to me and the community?  Do I tell a bunch of knock knock jokes and hope they get it?
I finally figured out which direction to go based on a Facebook message from someone I’ve never met….  I can’t share that email with you right now because it’s the basis of my speech.  But, you’re more than welcome to come and listen to it tonight at 7:00pm at the Student Achievement Program in the new Health Science Building at JCTC.  Although I’ve given plenty of speeches, this one feels like the most important one yet – how do you say THANK YOU to people that mean so much to you?!
March 2011

Hold the Trash

Hold The Trash

Sept10-2Even after four years, I still have not cleared all of my parents things out of my childhood home where I now live.  There are a lot of things.  And if it’s in a room in which I never enter, it bothers me none.

However, I finally decided to sort through the Christmas boxes in my basement.  I made two stacks – 1. I may use these to decorate this holiday season 2. these decorations would never be a part of my celebration.

Once I’d gone through about 20 boxes and bags, there was an old, brown paper bag sitting on the floor hiding in a corner of my basement.  When I first glanced in it, all I saw was an empty video reel about size of a 45 rpm record.  I was getting ready to toss it into my trash pile, but my fingers kept digging deeper inside.  Tucked under the empty reel were about 10 blue video reels the size of the bottom of soda can.  And the reels had labels.  One said “1979, Michelle’s Birthday”. Another was labeled “1980 trip to Georgia”.

Hidden in this trashed brown paper bag, were treasures that I could never re-create.  Inside this simple object were memories of my childhood.  In my hands I now held videos of my parents – two people that I will never physically be able to see again on this Earth.  I was on Cloud 9!!!!!  I immediately drove to the closest video store to see if they could transfer the reels to DVD.

I nervously waited for a week in hopes that the videos would contain some footage.  Our basement was flooded in the late 90′s and a lot of things were ruined.  Since those videos were found on the basement floor, I didn’t know if they had been damages as well.  As I picked the videos, I rushed home and down to my basement to see what had been discovered.  I saw footage of several of my birthday parties, a recording when my dad taped my second grade class performing plays, a family gathering with my cousins, aunts and uncle and my friends and I playing outside at Mallgate.

Only about 3 of the 9 videos actually had sound, but I had a smile on my face the entire time.  For the first time in 18 years (since my father passed away) I was able to watch my parents together in action.  What a blessing to run across that bag.  If you haven’t done so already – take plenty of pictures and videos of your family.  You may not feel you personally have a use for them, but I can guarantee you that once you have left this earth, the people left behind will cherish them!

(PS: If anyone is an old school techie that has an interest in a Sankyo Super 8 Sound-500, let me know)

M.Y. September 2010

A Father’s Touch

A Father’s Touch (my father is 3rd from the front in this picture)

June09-3HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all of the wonderful fathers in the world!  So often we concentrate on the fathers who are deadbeats or those that have never been in the picture.  Instead, we should spend this weekend (and every other day on the calendar) praising the men who do their jobs to raise their children and other youth in our community.

Some people have memories of their fathers playing football with them in the yard.  Others may remember their father as the one who had the thickest belt and gave the worst spankings.  A couple of you may remember your father as the one who sat at the head of the table and made all of the decisions.

Think of one word to describe your father.  What comes to mind? Honest. Smart. Disciplinarian. Supportive.  Funny.  Lazy.  Incredible.  When I think of my father, the word that comes to mind is CREATIVE.  He was one of the most creative and talented people I knew.  The first place I was able to trace this back to  is his high school days.  I found his high school graduation program.  (one of the main reasons I still have it is because Muhammad Ali – then Cassius Clay- also graduated with my father and his name is listed in the program).  My father received a special award at the ceremony.  It wasn’t for sports.  It wasn’t for academics.  Of all things, it was for tailoring!  My father had a gift using his hands.

Once he went to college at Tuskegee he excelled in academics, was the editor of the yearbook and joined a fraternity -Alpha Phi Alpha.  (The picture above shows him and his fraternity brothers, yes the Alphas had canes, he’s third from the front).  This unique thing I learned about this photo is that my father actually sewed the tuxedo jackets that they are wearing in this photo.  You never know when your creative talents can help a wide variety of people.

 My father passed away over 15 years ago but I am proud that I see some of his creative talents in myself.   People may be physically gone from our lives, but we should find solace in the fact that not only do their memories live forever, but every once in awhile we are blessed to have pieces of the ones we love passed on to us so that we too may carry out their journey.

M.Y.  June 2009

My Dad Loved Me

“My Dad Loved Me!”

June08-2About two years ago I moved back into my childhood home.  I have so many great memories that existed there and it’s interesting to transition from being the child in the house to now having full ownership and paying all the bills.
My house is in a great neighborhood with a backyard that is connected to a golf course.  It’s peaceful to sit outside on a cool day (haven’t had those recently) and enjoy all that nature had to offer.  But, my backyard also has something very unique.  A homemade balance beam!  Starting at the age of six, I was a very competitive gymnast.  I’d go to practice four days a week and could tumble without thought.  My father was always very crafty, and during elementary school, he built me my own wooden balance beam so that I could practice at home.  It was the exact length and width (4 inches) as the real thing.
Recently I went outside and walked right next to the beam.  I thought about the serious thought my father had to put into creating this masterpiece.  He had to carefully measure each piece of wood.  He also had to create something study enough so that it would stay in the ground.  It had to be able to outlast wind, rain, snow, hail and just my general body weight.  It had to be perfect.   Over 25 years later, it’s still perfect.
Growing up I probably took for granted the beam. Although I appreciated it, I never really contemplated the dedication and love my father had for me to even consider creating something like that.  I was my father’s baby girl, his only child, his pride and joy.  Still seeing the beam today lets me know that he wanted to do whatever he could to bring me happiness.  My father passed away in 1993.  Who would have known that  almost 15 years later an object made of wood would bring back the feelings and strong emotions of unconditional love and gratitude!!
Happy Father’s Day

M.Y.  June 2008