Five More Minutes: In Loving Memory of Jody Marie Sanford

We’ve all got that one friend, or even multiple friends, that we feel are immortal. The kind of friends that have been with us through all heartbreak and the joys of life. The highs, lows, and everything included in this rollercoaster ride called life.

I’ve got several friends of that variety, but the one that’s been with me the longest is now at the Right Hand of God.

In fact, eight years ago today, she was called to her eternal home by God. On February 2, 2014, the one that I still consider to be the sister that I never had took her last breath and began that Heavenly journey that she has been on for eight years.

I can only imagine what she has seen over the last eight years in Heaven. I was so blessed to have been able to share 16 years of my life, her entire life, with her.

Although the time we shared together was far too short, we shared a lifetime worth of memories that I’m forever grateful for. Happy memories, sad memories, and everything in between.

By now, you’re probably thinking we had a perfect friendship. But believe me, there were multiple times in those 16 years that we got on each other’s last nerve.

But we never left each other’s side. She got on my nerves some, but I know that I got on her nerves far more than she got on mine.

How do I know that I got on her nerves? Well, if you knew Jody, you know about that side-eyed straight-faced look she’d give. Every time she gave me that look I’d playfully say “What is it Jody? What’s wrong?”

All while continuing to do what got on her nerves, not because I enjoyed getting the side-eyed, straight-faced treatment, but because I knew that it would only be a matter of seconds before she busted out laughing saying “You’re so stupid. You know that gets on my last nerve.” To which I’d pause and say “Yeah, I know. You want me to do it again?” And she’d playfully say, “No, you idiot.”

I’m forever grateful for the lifetime worth of memories that the two of us shared. From the trips to Mardi Gras in Mobile, to spending the summers at the city baseball fields, and everything in between.

On February 2, 2014, I was in the back of the house on the computer at about 4:30 p.m., when mom came running into the room and headed for her closet.

I wondered what she was doing so I asked “What are you doing?” She replied hurriedly “It’s Jody!” I was so confused at this point.

What has she done now? Was it something great, was she in trouble? What was going on? I was completely lost as to what was happening. The next minute my brother comes into the room and takes my phone.

After about two hours, the house phone rings and it’s mom. I pick it up, completely unprepared for what was about to be said on the other end. “Hello?” I said expecting just a normal answer to what was occurring.

I could hear people crying on the other end. Mom replied “Jody’s gone.” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. It had to be a prank right?? This just wasn’t possible. I slowly hung the phone up after mom said that she’d be home in a little while.

February 5, 2014 rolls around, the day of the visitation, or viewing as some people refer to it and by this time I had already accepted the role as pallbearer. A role that I wasn’t too sure about taking on, but I knew that she wouldn’t want it any other way.

After all, I’d been with her for her whole life, why not carry her one last time? I wasn’t sure about taking on this responsibility, but I would be doing it the next day at the funeral.

But now, it was time to face my worst nightmare. I entered Thelma Baptist Church, which is about a mile from my house, through the back side door, where I was met by her entire family.

I didn’t know if I had the strength to face what I was going to have to face whether I wanted or not, so her mom and dad escorted me to the sanctuary where the casket was located and her brother and sister walked behind me.

I entered the sanctuary and made a right turn. There it was. There she was. My best friend’s lifeless body laying in a casket. I broke down. I walked up to the casket, leaned down and whispered “You’re safe with me.”

I got there early and sat about mid-ways down the isle. Before long what seemed like a thousand people were showing up in droves to pay their final earthly respects to not only my best friend, but also my very first friend.

The next morning, the funeral was supposed to start at 9 a.m., so I got there around 8 a.m, went inside the sanctuary, sat right in front of the casket and prayed for the strength to get through the day. I can confidently say that I had never heard of an entire school shutting down for a funeral, that is until this one of course.

Afterwards, I looked up and point to the sky and was met with hundreds of hugs from mutual friends that the two of us share. During the funeral the preacher said “Sixteen years…too short some might say, but if it’s a life that was lived and loved, was it really too short?” Those words will always stick close to my heart

That girl loved life. She loved her family and friends, but most importantly, she loved God. She loved hard. You never left her company with the question of “Does Jody love me?” Because she was going to make sure you knew the answer to that question. But if you messed up, or she didn’t like what you did, or how you did it, she was going to give you an earful about it.

She also was a fighter. She fought for those she loved and in turn those of us whom she loved are left here to defend her name and to keep her memory alive.

She stood up for what and who she believed in and you never had to question her loyalty. It was evident as soon as you met her.

As the funeral ended, the funeral director asked the congregation to rise and prepared the casket to be carried out. I stood up, pulled my sunglasses down, even though it was a cloudy day, took a deep breath and grabbed the casket with my right arm.

Once we were out of the church, we loaded the casket into the back of the hearse and I leaned down saying in between tears “This isn’t the end.”

Afterwards I was met with more hugs and words of encouragement to get me through this rough time. At the graveside, I lifted my sunglasses and wiped my eyes with a tissue. Then I was met by more mutual friends that needed a shoulder to cry on, but little did they know, I needed that shoulder to cry on also.

Tell your family and friends you love them, you never know when you’ll see them for the last time. I’d give the world to be able to spend five more minutes with my best friend. Rest In Peace, angel. You are loved and missed more than you will ever know.

Happy eight years, angel. I love you and I’ll see you again one day soon. Until we pick up where we left off, do me a favor and give Heaven some hell.

September 11, 2001: The Day the World Went Dark

20 years ago tomorrow, the world was shaken by the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC and a field out in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a hijacked plane went down in a blaze. When 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group known as al Qaeda hijacked four aircrafts and carried out the gruesome events of that day. Two of the planes were flown into the Twin Towers, a third hit the Pentagon, and a fourth went down in that Pennsylvania field.

These events we will never forget. These events are forever burned into the memory of millions of Americans. That day, almost 3,000 American heroes were killed tragically in the events of September 11, 2001.

On September 11, 2001, at 8:45 a.m., what seemed to be just an ordinary Tuesday morning, turned into anything but ordinary when an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. A blazing, gaping hole was left smoldering near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly claiming hundreds of lives and leaving hundreds more in danger. 18 minutes later, a second 767 Boeing— United Airlines Flight 175 — sliced its way into the south tower.

Out in Washington, DC American Airlines Flight 77 circled over Washington, DC before crashing into the west side of the Pentagon military base at 9:45 a.m. Fuel from the Boeing 757 caused an awful fire that led to a structural collapse at the Department of Defense.

125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon, along with 64 people aboard the airliner. At 10:30 a.m. the north tower collapsed 2,763 died at the World Trade Center including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City Police Officers and 37 Port Authority police officers. 2,996 lives were claimed that fateful day.

I was only 3 years old in 2001 but I miss the way things were on September 12, 2001. Not because of what happened, but because of the way people treated each other. The way the human race came together and mourned as one. The way for just a moment, America truly was suffering from the same thing.

If you lost a loved one on that fateful day or know someone who did, please assure them that their loved one went out a hero. If you survived the attacks, thank you for standing face to face with terror and doing what you could to save those around you.

May we never forget the day the world went dark.

Memorial Day 2021: A Day of Remembrance and Reflection

As humans, we often see Memorial Day as a day to party, a day to celebrate and barbecue. But Memorial Day isn’t about partying, celebrating, and barbecuing, it’s a day set aside each year to remember the selfless, honorable human beings who gave their lives for the sake of their love for this country.

There is no such saying as “Happy Memorial Day.” You see, somebody somewhere across this great country still struggling with the loss of a loved one, a friend, a fellow service member, etc.

Recently, I saw a post on social media asking about a fireworks display for Memorial Day. I thought to myself, “Do they have no idea what the true meaning of Memorial Day is?” It’s not a time for fireworks, it’s a time of reflection, remembrance, and honoring those who never made it home to their loved ones for the sake of the freedom of citizens like you and I.

Tomorrow, as we observe the very somber holiday that is Memorial Day, I ask that you take a moment to pause and remember the many men and women who died protecting this great nation, the ones who came home draped by an American Flag.

If you are struggling with the loss of a spouse, friend, fellow service member as Memorial Day approaches, I want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

All gave some, some gave all. Love your country, live with pride, and don’t forget those who died.

A Smoldering Christmas Mystery: Remembering the Sodder Family Tragedy 75 Years Later


For many of us, Christmas is a time of celebration, a time of laughter and love. It’s the greatest time of year, a time when people all over the world seem at peace and everyone seems content. For one Fayetteville, West Virginia family, all of that Christmas cheer escalated into a night of hopelessness andtorment.

It was late on Christmas Eve, 1945, that evening had been filled with merriment and cheer, now everyone in the house had retired to bed for the night awaiting the grand arrival of Santa. George and Jennie Sodder, and nine of their ten children. One of their older sons was away fighting in the Army. But for the rest of the Sodder family, everything was going just as you would expect any Christmas Eve to go, happy and quiet.

Suddenly in the middle of the night, Jennie awoke with a start, she smelled smoke. Slowly, she got out of bed, she didn’t wake George right away, perhaps because she hadn’t yet found the source of the smell, maybe one of the kids was making toast in the kitchen. 

But when Jennie discovered flames in another room, she realized that their lives were all in immediate danger. She woke George and the couple located what children they could. In a mad dash, they shouted upstairs for the kids who were on the second floor to come down. 

As the flames began to spread rapidly, the couple fled the house, trusting that the younger ones were right behind them. Once they emerged out of the house and into the front yard, George looked back to see the fiery tongues of the blaze licking the foundation of their home. He also saw their beautiful decorations and electric Christmas lights gleaming through the fire-lit windows, relics of joyous memories slowly becoming engulfed in flames and turned to ash. 

That’s when he realized there were only four of the nine children who lived at the home outside with he and Jennie, the other five were still inside the sweltering structure, but maybe, just maybe, he had time to rescue them from the raging fire. 

George broke a window on the bottom floor of the house in order to go back inside the smoke-filled house, he cut his arm but didn’t notice, he was too consumed in the hope that somehow, he could still extinguish the fire. But as he stood in the house and faced the rolling flames, he realized there was no way that he could fight the flames, they were too strong. 

They forced him back out of the house and onto the lawn, he’d have to find another way to rescue his children that were still in the house that was engulfed in the blaze. No matter how hard George tried, there was no hope, he had done all he could do to try to salvage his kids but it just wasn’t going to happen. 

When the sun broke the Fayetteville, West Virginia horizon on Christmas morning, 1945, the only thing that remained of the Sodder family home was a basement full of ashes and soot. Fire Marshalls searched the remnants of the house, but they never found any skeletons. All they recovered were a few small bones and pieces of internal organs. 

The Fire Chief ruled that the fire was caused by faulty wiring. Still, the fire should not have been hot enough to disintegrate entire human bodies. George and Jennie Sodder were told that nothing at all was found of their children, and that a more thorough search wouldn’t take place until after the holiday season. 

This tragedy has simmered in the minds of Americans for years since it took place, and nearly 75 years later, the location of the children’s bodies remains a raging mystery.

George and Jennie Sodder have since passed on, but their last surviving daughter, Sylvia, now 77, is convinced that her siblings didn’t die as a result of the fire. What does she think happened to her loved ones?

What could have happened to the bodies of the five Sodder children that vanished in the pitch black smoke? Will the peaceful little town of Fayetteville, West Virginia ever get closure?

(Picture: thetruecrimefiles.com)
(Picture: truecrimefiles.com)

September 11, 2001: The Day the Country Wept in Unity

19 years ago today, this country was shaken by what had just occurred in New York at the World Trade Center.

Some 2,753 people lost their lives that day when American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were hijacked and intentionally crashed into the North and South towers, or as a result of the crashes.

Of those who perished during the initial attacks and the subsequent collapses of the towers, 343 were New York City firefighters, 23 were New York City Police, and 37 were officers at the Port Authority.

The victims ranged in age from two to 85 years old. Approximately 75 to 80% of the victims were men.

At the Pentagon in Washington, 184 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.

Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 40 passengers and crew members aboard United Airlines Flight 93 died when the plane crashed into a field. The hijackers are believed to have crashed the aircraft at that location, rather than their unknown target, after passengers and crew members attempted to retake the flight deck.

As of October 2019, 1,645 of the 2,753 World Trade Center victims’ remains have been recovered and positively identified, according to the local medical examiner’s office.

A Timeline of the Events of That Horrific Day:

8:46 a.m. ET: American Airlines Flight 11, traveling from Boston to Los Angeles, crashed into the North tower of the World Trade Center.

9:03 a.m. ET: United Airlines Flight 175, traveling from Boston to Los Angeles, struck the South tower at the World Trade Center.

9:37 a.m. ET: American Airlines Flight 77, traveling from Dulles, Virginia, to Los Angeles struck the Pentagon Building in Washington.

9:59 a.m. ET: The South Tower at the World Trade Center collapsed in approximately 10 seconds.

10:03 a.m. ET: United Airlines Flight 93, traveling from Newark, New Jersey to San Francisco went down in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

10:28 a.m. ET: The North tower at the World Trade Center collapses.

May we never forget the thousands of heroes that lost their lives on this day, 19 years ago today.

Take a moment today, stop what your doing, and remember the ones we lost on the horrific day that was September 11, 2001.

Source 911memorial.org
Source: kedm.org

Let Freedom Ring: This Fourth of July Remember What This Day Represents

As Independence Day is just around the corner, remember what this day is for.

244 years ago tomorrow, our Founding Fathers signed their names on the Declaration of Independence.

With all the negativity going on in the world these days, put all of that aside and be glad that we’ve been free for 244 years.

Think about all the people that lost their lives fighting so that we could live in this beautiful country freely.

Put all your differences aside and realize that no matter your race, you are an American. You live freely because of our Founding Fathers.

Tonight or tomorrow when you’re partying, barbecuing or what have you, take a moment and be thankful to live in the United States of America.

Be safe, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Source: History.com

Los Angeles Angels Pay Tribute to Fallen Pitchers

Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim resumed their series in Arlington, Texas, after postponing game one of what was scheduled to be a three-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game of the series was postponed due to the sudden passing of 27-year-old starting pitcher, Tyler Skaggs. Before Tuesday night’s game, the Angels posed with Skaggs’ jersey and hat, as well as hung his jersey in the visiting dugout. In addition to posing with the jersey and hat of Skaggs, the Rangers had “45” stenciled into the back of the pitcher’s mound as their way of paying tribute to the Santa Monaco, California native that passed unexpectedly on Monday afternoon in the team hotel in Southlake, Texas. Both teams paused for a moment of silence ahead of first pitch in Tyler Skaggs’ honor. Skaggs wore number 45 as a member of the Angels. For the remainder of the season, the Angels will wear a “45” patch on the chest of their jerseys. The patch is placed across the heart. Skaggs was originally scheduled to pitch the day he passed. The cause of Skaggs’ death will not be released until the end of the season, according to sources.