Christmas prayers

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 17, 2004

Joyce Gandy’s friends and colleagues love her dearly.

That is what you learn quickly about this special lady who resides in the Garland area.

She is quite active in her church at Mount Rose Baptist Church, she drives a school bus for Georgiana's schools and she helps out here aunt at Maycee’s Beauty Supply.

Staying busy is important to her.

She said when she stays busy; she doesn’t worry so much about her children.

She has a right to worry about them.

She currently has four children serving in the United States Air Force.

There are two in Iraq, one in Kuwait and one in Korea.

Debby Jones, the bookkeeper at Georgiana High School said recently that Gandy is an inspiration to others and that everyone loves her.

&uot;She is such a special lady,&uot; Jones said.

&uot;She deserves some recognition for having four of her children away in the military.&uot;

Those four children include her oldest, Lindsey Gandy Jr. who is a staff sergeant and for 15 years he has served his nation with honor.

He is currently in Kuwait.

Karlton Gandy has been in the service for nine years and he is specialist.

He is currently somewhere in Iraq.

Tonya McMeans, is also in the Air Force in her fifth year.

She is also somewhere in Iraq, and with a grim look, her mother points out this is her second deployment to the world’s hottest spot.

Paul Gandy is currently serving in Korea.

Her other daughter works for the Department of Corrections in Montgomery, so she knows one of her children is relatively safe.

It is the last child in the area that helps keep her busy.

And she tries not to tarry on the bad news of the day.

Having four of her children away at Christmas is also quite depressing.

&uot;It is really depressing time,&uot; she said.

&uot;Lindsey Jr. was also in Desert Storm and then I would watch so much of it on television that I made myself sick.

I was hospitalized three times while he was over there.&uot;

She said she watched the news all the time and prayed constantly.

&uot;I would just pray that God would bring him home,&uot; she said.

&uot;Now I pray that God will protect them all and bring them all home to me.&uot;

She said this time she tries not to watch too much news and will only watch snippets, but knowing that three of her children are in a war zone, the holiday spirit is hard to find.

&uot;I can’t get myself up into the spirit this year,&uot; she said.

&uot;I don’t know where neither Tonya and Karlton are at this point in Iraq.&uot;

She said when they first left, they called her weekly but now those calls are fewer and farther between.

&uot;Here in the last month, I’ve heard from Tonya and Karlton twice,&uot; she said.

&uot;Karlton has been gone since January.&uot;

When she last spoke to Tonya, her daughter said she was being moving deeper into Iraq.

When you go into Gandy’s living room, you immediately known you are in the presence of a woman who loves her children dearly.

Her walls are filled with photos of her military children in dress uniforms.

There are senior portraits.

Shelves are filled with trophies won by each through their high school careers at Georgiana High School.

When she looks at the pictures, this twice divorced mother of five looks on at pride.

&uot;They went to school here in Georgiana and they all graduated,&uot; she said smiling.

Now, she tries to spend time with Lindsey Junior’s children and spouse.

&uot;His wife came back home to Georgiana from Fort Knox when he deployed,&uot; she said.

&uot;Their children go to school here now.

I’m supposed to go to their program at their church at Friendship Baptist.&uot;

She said having her grandchildren here takes up some of her time and that helps keep mind off her family in harm’s way. Once she attends the children’s Christmas program at the church, she said she’ll go to Montgomery for several days.

&uot;My oldest daughter lives in Montgomery, and I’ll go spend the rest of the holidays with her them,&uot; she said.

&uot;It’s good that she is here in the state.&uot;

Gandy said she has received tons of support from the area including several care boxes that were sent to her children from local churches.

She said her children are lucky.

&uot;I often think about the other soldiers who are over there, who don’t have a hometown that is supportive of them,&uot; she said.

&uot;And it is depressing to think that many of them think we there are some who are against what they are doing there. I pray for them all every day.&uot;

She said sometimes she feels like everything is so senseless and none of those overseas deserve to be there.

&uot;My children have said there are service men and women over there who think we don’t care about them, but I know I do and I know others do as well,&uot; she said.

So what does this mother want this Christmas with her children so far away?

&uot;I want people to remember not only my children but all the military people who are deployed,&uot; she said. &uot;That’s what I wish for Christmas.&uot;