Distance is not for the fearful, it is for the bold. It's for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It's for those who know a good thing when they see it, even if they don't see it nearly enough.

Posts tagged ‘Military Family’

Decoration Day

Decoration Day is the old name for Memorial Day.  Bet you didn’t know that.  It was originally created to thank those who died in the Civil War, but after World War I, it was changed to celebrating the lives and sacrifices of any American who died fighting in any war.  The American flag is flown at half-staff for the first half of the day, recognizing the sacrifices of over one million of our brothers and sisters.  At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all. Moina Michael wrote a poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

Because of this, poppies are worn on Memorial Day in honor of our fallen heroes.  She was the first to wear one, and then sold them to friends, family, and strangers to raise money for servicemen.

My challenge for all of you: take at least part of the day off you’re given and give it to one of the people who are the reason we get the day off.  Volunteer at your local USO, VFW, VA hospital, or other veteran- or military-related organization.  Have your kids make a card to send overseas or to someone laying in a VA hospital, far from their friends and family.  If you can’t make time for that, make time to say thank you to someone who is currently serving or to the families of those who won’t be coming home.

This weekend is supposed to be for remembering those who gave their lives for our freedom, those who protected our right to live the way we live, those who gave their all for you and me.  It’s not about bar-b-ques, it’s not about the lake, it’s not about getting as drunk as you can.  It’s about them.  So spend your weekend partying, but on Monday, take the time to do something for those who lost their lives so that you may live the way you wish, without fear of repercussion  or prosecution.

“Till death do us part… or we get tired of working at it.”

Two of my best friends from high school were married a year ago today.  They’ve been together since either the end of our freshman year of high school, or the beginning of sophomore year, depending on which one you ask.  He asked her out at the end of freshman year, but since he went to California for the whole summer every year, she said no until the end of the summer.  Either way, it’s been approximately 7 years since then.  I told them sophomore year that they’d be getting married.  Neither believed me, but I know we’re all glad I was right.  I can’t imagine anyone more perfect for someone else than they are for one another.  They are so good together.  It’s given me something to look up to and wait for since we were kids.  Their love is so pure and sweet and simple. I miss seeing their example daily, but am thankful to have it, nonetheless.

Buddy’s and mine is far from simple, thanks to the military, but it’s going to last just as long as their’s because we all have the same mentality when it comes to marriage: there is no out; forever is forever.  We all believe that no matter what God throws at us, we’ll make it through it and be stronger for it.  The divorce rate in America makes me really, really sad.  Obviously there are reasons to divorce (abuse, for example), but I think that the majority of divorces happen because people aren’t willing to put the work in.  A relationship is work.  At least, it is if it’s a good one.  It would be SO much easier for Buddy and I to say “Y’know, you’d have a much easier time if we weren’t married and we weren’t putting up with being separated 290 days a year.”  But that’s not what we want, and that’s not what we promised.  Our vows were not “Till death do us part… or we get tired of working at it.”

The unfortunate thing is, a lot of America thinks like that.  And a lot of younger Americans just aren’t getting married because they think it’s easier that way.  That’s not the way it should be.  I’m appalled at much of my generation.  What happened to values? hard work? family?  Maybe it’s because I was raised in a very Southern family (it’s a miracle no one in my family has died of a heart attack yet) and values were instilled in us like crazy.  We went to church every Sunday, taught Sunday school, had chores, got spankings, and spent evenings eating supper at the table, not in front of the TV.  There was a study recently that said that a child was more likely to be successful if they had at least three other adults in their life besides their parents that acted as trusted adults.  I was incredibly blessed to have several pairs of extra parents who helped me when my sister had an asthma attack and my parents were out of town, carted us around to soccer and band, gave me advice on school and boys, and just showed genuine interest in me and my well-being.

I’m not saying you need to be Christian or that families who don’t have dinner together every night are automatically bad families.  I do think, though, that there’s something to be said for parents and the community investing time in showing their kids the way they should live and in making sure that they are doing what they need to do to be successful in life, as well as hopefully be examples for what a healthy, functioning marriage or relationship looks like.   I was lucky to have so many of those in my life, including a couple who are my age, and I pray that Buddy and I can have the same impact on another child’s life that so many of my surrogate parents did.

Stay Busy and Find Something to Look Forward To

Well, Buddy is on his way to Altus.  I still think it’s silly that C-17s are the only airframe that doesn’t do the upgrade process in-house.  Maybe that’s because my husband is going during the ONLY time of year up here that we can actually enjoy living here!  Oh well.  I wouldn’t care so much except that our poor dog is refusing to get off of Buddy’s side of the bed.  He knows Dad is gone and is totally depressed about it.  Won’t eat, won’t play, nothing.  It breaks my heart!

The best way I’ve found to deal with the whole husband-being-gone thing is to a) keep busy (yeah, every military wife will tell you that one) and b) find something to look forward to, something to count down to that ISN’T your husband coming home.  Obviously you’re going to be excited about him being back (or, at least, I would hope so… if not, then you’re probably not upset and don’t need to keep busy in the first place).  If you can find something non-husband-related, or at least minimally husband-related, you’ll find a reason to get up in the morning that is not contingent upon the military, and that’s important.  That way, no matter what the military or Murphy are doing to you at the time, you have something that isn’t affected by either one.  For example, I have my job.  I’m looking forward to getting my kiddos back to their mom.  I also have my trip to Texas.  I’m flying down on June 21st, regardless of whether Buddy has graduated from AC school or not.  I get to see my sisters, my parents, my best friends.  It’ll be amazing!

A quick note about the keeping busy advice… Yes, it’s important to stay busy and keep your mind occupied.  However, don’t over-do it!  Make sure you’re taking time to be sad, time to yourself, and time to relax.  Going, going, going for months on end is just going to exhaust you and make it harder to deal with everything that’s going to be thrown at you during a TDY/deployment/whatever.  Find a balance.  It’s okay to let yourself be sad or lonely.  It’s healthy to miss your other half.

That was probably the hardest thing for me to learn.  I thought I had to be totally strong and act like everything was totally normal.  Everything is NOT totally normal when your husband is gone.  It didn’t help that my mom acts like she understands and is anything but sympathetic when I say I’m dreading months away from Buddy.  If this is the case in your life, just don’t talk about it with that person.  Talk about it with people who will help you handle it and make you feel better and more normal, not less.

Have You Forgotten?

I finally got around to watching Wednesday night’s American Idol.  Buddy and I don’t really FOLLOW it, but we’re both huge music buffs (I’ve played piano for 15 years and clarinet for almost 11; he was in choir and show choir from the 6th grade all the way through the Academy) so we think it’s fun to watch other people perform, especially since most of these are my baby sister’s age (crazy).  Scotty sang “Have You Forgotten?” by Darryl Worley (the lyrics are at the bottom of this post in case you haven’t heard it before… you should definitely look it up).  First of all, let me just say, the kid has a VOICE.  Ridiculous.  But it sort of hit me hard last night while we were watching it.  Not in a bad way, but in a “Geez I hope this Osama bin Laden stuff sticks around and actually keeps some support for our troops for a while” kind of way.

It always amazes me how short of a memory Americans tend to have.  It really makes me sad that a year after 9-11, people stopped supporting our troops.  You don’t have to agree with the war (I have my days, too), but you do have to support our troops.  They’re over there because their Commander-in-Chief told them to and because they agreed to do what he says in order to keep us all safe.  Not all of them agree with the war; most of them would rather be at home with their families.  But they’re there because they love you and me and want a better future for our children.  How anyone can NOT support that, I’ll never understand.  I think Scotty singing the song was mostly because of the Osama bin Laden stuff that’s going on, but I do think that it needs to be played on radio stations and TV more often.

Music has such a huge power over people.  It can pull out emotions you never knew you had.  It can vividly remind you of a time or place in your life.  It can bring people together in a way almost nothing else can.  You don’t have to be talented to appreciate the lyrics or sounds in a piece of music.  Pieces that were written 250 years ago are still affecting people today; pieces that are written today will still be affecting people 250 years from now.  That’s the beauty of it.  It affects the listener as much as it does the musician, and it does so across time and space.

I hear people sayin’. We Don’t need this war.
I say there’s some things worth fightin’ for.
What about our freedom, and this piece of ground?
We didn’t get to keep ’em by backin’ down.
They say we don’t realize the mess we’re gettin’ in
Before you start preachin’ let me ask you this my friend.
Chorus
Have you forgotten, how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten, when those towers fell
We had neighbors still inside goin through a livin hell
And you say we shouldn’t worry bout Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?
You took all the footage off my T.V.
Said it’s too disturbin for you and me
It’ll just breed anger is what the experts say
If it was up to me I’d show it everyday
Some say this country just out lookin’ for a fight
Well after 9/11 man I’d have to say right.
Chorus
Have you forgotten, how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell
We had neighbors still inside goin’ through a livin’ hell
And we vow to get the ones behind Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?
I’ve been there with the soldiers
Who’ve gone away to war
you can bet they remember just what they’re fightin’ for
Have you forgotten
All the people killed
Yes some went down like heroes
In that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten
About our Pentagon
All the loved ones that we lost
And those left to carry on
Don’t you tell me not to worry ’bout Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?!

Days like today…

…remind me why I love this life.

I woke up this morning at 0530 with Buddy to get him ready for his local (a flight in the “local” area… generally the same state or so).   He left, the boys and I went back to bed for an hour, and I got up, got ready, made breakfast, and played with the dogs for a bit.  Then I headed to base to my friend E’s house.  We had decided to go watch Buddy’s take off with her 14 month old daughter.  I hadn’t seen him fly in anything (T-6s, T-1s, or C-17s) so I was REALLY excited.  He took off right on time and did a couple of touch-and-gos.  It was so cool!

E and I spent the whole day hanging out.  Her husband is in our squadron too so he’s currently on the road in Germany (our squadron flies more than any other).  She’s been having a rough time so I was happy to spend the day with her and their daughter.  It was SO much fun getting to go shop and just sit on the couch and talk to someone else who gets it and gets me.  She and I have only been friends for a few months, but I already feel closer to her than I do most of my friends.  We just instantly clicked which was amazing.  On our way to World Market, Buddy’s C-17 flew RIGHT over the car so I got to see Buddy fly twice in one day, after almost four years of never having seen him fly!  Buddy met us at E’s house when he was done de-briefing and chatted with us for a bit since we were out on the driveway with E’s daughter playing with chalk (it was FINALLY sunny today!).

I headed to the commissary, picked up some groceries, came home, and made grilled chicken, mac n cheese, and balsamic vinegar roasted asparagus.  It was delicious, but the best part was getting to sit on the couch with my sweetheart, puppies playing on the floor, and relax after a busy day for both of us.

“Crazy”

I got into it with an acquaintance last night.  It looks like Texas State University is going to allow concealed weapons on campus.  I’m for it; he was against it.  We were debating it, and he said that he didn’t like the thought of 18 year old college kids running around campus with guns.  This was where it started to go downhill.  First of all, if you’re going to debate me, PLEASE know your facts, like the fact that you have to be 21 before you can even think about having a concealed weapons license (CHL).  I pointed out the fact that the VAST majority of campus is under 21 so most of them can’t even own one.  He said that we should leave the gun handling to trained professionals.  I rebut with “First, you have to go through a training course before you’re allowed to own a gun.  And second, 2000 of the 5000 students over 21 on campus are vets.  Does that count as trained professionals?”  I mean, honestly.  The gun a vet might be carrying in a holster is likely to be a tenth the size of the one they’ve been “running around with” for the last 4 to 10 years.   He responds with “Oh yeah, just what we need.  A bunch of crazy old vets running around with guns.”  I LOST it.

Maybe I shouldn’t have.  Maybe he didn’t mean it the way it came out.  But it came out incredibly insulting to my friends and military family and I’m not okay with that.  Most of the vets at TState aren’t much older than he is, if they’re older at all.  And as for crazy… I would love to see him deal with the stuff our military does and NOT have some issues at the end of it.

Frankly, I’m not okay with anyone (vet or not) being referred to as “crazy.”  They may have a mental illness, but that doesn’t make them crazy; it makes them sick.  It means they need HELP, not to be stigmatized or mocked, and certainly not to be used as ammo for why we shouldn’t allow guns somewhere.  We should be taking care of the vets who need the help and ensuring that their career at Texas State is successful so that they may go on to be a productive part of the society they spent years protecting.  The guys in the VA office are doing an amazing job of that.  They go above and beyond to make sure that our vets are taken care of.

I don’t care what your stance on gun control is.  You do NOT get to refer to a hero as crazy.

Great Day

Well, the husband is once again, flying.  This one is just a night air refueling flight which is okay.  At least he’ll be home sometime late tonight.  He leaves for a month next week for Aircraft Commander training which is VERY exciting for him since he’s the first one in his year class to make the upgrade.  We’re both sad about it though, because it’s yet another month of him being gone.  I guess it’s something we’re both used to, but not something that sits well with either of us.  Today was absolutely amazing; we spent it with the sun (or rather, light through the clouds) and fresh air streaming in the windows, napping and hanging out with the dogs.  It just makes it that much more poignant that he’s leaving.

I think both of us are ready to have him home more.  Granted, that’s not going to happen for another couple of years until we get to a different base, but it’s something we’re both looking forward to.  We’re newlyweds; we want to get to spend time together.  He’s my best friend and I don’t like living my life like he’s not my husband.  I’ve grown so accustomed to him being gone more than he’s home that it’s harder when he IS home.  I feel like a terrible person for that, but I don’t know any other way to be.  We even had to get our dog a little brother so that he would stop crying every time Buddy walked out the door.  If Buddy didn’t do it so often, we would have just dealt with it, but our puppy can’t be sad for 290 days a year!

It doesn’t help that we live in possibly the most depressing place in the country.  I mean, I’m discovering the reason that it has the highest depression rate in the continental United States.  The news station that I have on just announced that they created a “sun tracker” so we can find out when and where there will be sun and go find it.  That’s how little sun there is up here.  My grandma just left today… I think she believes me now when I say we have NO sun up here.

To end, I promise that not all of my blogs will be this melancholy.  It’s just been so nice to have him home for a couple of days that the thought of him being gone again for a month is just not one I want to be thinking about tonight.