In mid-December, Lorna Illerbrunn reached out to me, sharing that she was embarking on a Christmas journey from North Carolina to visit her parents in Hampton, NH. Intrigued by our handrails, she had been eyeing them for a while and planned to choose one to bring back in her truck.
The day after Christmas, I met Lorna at my driftwood storage space to showcase our 13-foot branches for a handrail. During our conversation, I learned that Lorna had spent 18 years as a helicopter pilot in the service. As she spoke, tears welled up in her eyes, and she shared the heartbreaking reason behind her need for a strong and sturdy handrail.
Lorna explained, "You must have heard about the drone strike in Iran yesterday." Admitting that I live somewhat under a rock, I confessed I hadn't heard the news. She went on to reveal that her husband, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Garrett Illerbrunn, was one of the two men attacked the day before. With Garrett in a coma, Lorna was set to depart for Germany that afternoon, leaving their 7-year-old son in the care of her parents.
Despite the devastating news, Lorna felt compelled to visit and choose a handrail from my collection. She expressed that, in the face of uncertainty, she needed the strength of a sturdy driftwood handrail to lean on. In that moment, we both shared tears, and I offered to burn their names into the handrail as a tribute.
I am deeply honored to have crafted this resilient driftwood handrail, intending to provide strength and hope to Lorna and Garrett during this challenging time.
To follow Garrett’s journey, please visit: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/garrettillerbrunn