Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

I’m sitting in here this Veteran’s Day feeling very lucky. Lucky to live in this great country, lucky that I, as a woman, have the same rights as a man, and very lucky to have my husband home with me, as many spouses of military will not have this luxury today.

D was born with the military coursing through his veins. It’s just a natural part of his life. It’s part of who he is.

I never gave his Navy background very much thought, except laughing at some of his crazy stories he shared sometimes. It was over and done and part of his past. I thought.

Add September 11th to the picture and our lives changed. D and I watched the news together for weeks during lunch hour and in the evenings. I could feel it--something-- building up.

“I’m thinking of going active.”

When those words come out of your husband’s mouth, they can make your heart literally stop. I tried to breathe as I calmly set toddler T down, before I dropped him.

With in 2 weeks, there was a big guy in a uniform sitting in my living room asking for our social security cards. Another 2 weeks, he was in Wichita for his very first drill weekend.

We got into a nice routine with him only gone one weekend a month to drills and the extra money really was nice. Then one weekend he calls home and says “In 2 months I am heading to the base in Bahrain for a month.”

T was 2, J was 4 the first time he left. He kissed away my tears at the airport and turned around, smiled and waved at me before he went into the terminal. I let the boys sleep in my bed during this time, and J and I cried ourselves to sleep many nights, missing “daddy.” D was gone the first time J wrote his name all by himself. I remember scanning it and sending a copy of it to him in the email.
It also never failed that some sort of problem would arise with the house EVERY time he was gone. It was usually plumbing. Or a dead mouse. I learned though I DO NOT like dead mice, I CAN take care of them if I have to.

He ended up being gone for over 5 months, back and forth, a month at a time. It seemed just as we were getting used to having him home, he'd leave again. The very worst time he was gone was when he left the week before Thanksgiving and came home right before Christmas. I remember eating with my family, coming home and putting my boys down for a nap, and sitting on the couch with a box of Kleenex and watched the military greetings that were on TV. Pathetic, huh? It was really hard that year to get all the decorations up without him. Though I knew he was coming home it didn’t feel like Christmas time without him here. That was the year I got him a really nice leather jacket for Christmas, and T blurted out "We got you a new coat for your present, Daddy" one of the times he called home. T never has been good with secrets.

The highlight of my days were first thing in the morning when I had an email from him, and then again at lunchtime when he would be getting off work and would write. The days I didn’t hear from him were spent with a pit in my stomach. I can not imagine the days of war where families would go months before receiving a letter in the mail from thier loved ones.
I watched the news and the internet all the time. One morning I got up and went to Yahoo and there was a story about how a dumpster had exploded outside the base at Bahrain. D played it off when he called home to check in, (After they found out it had made the news, they all knew it was time to put a call in to home.) but turned out to be more to the story. A lot more. And I am just thankful I didn't know about all of it till he was safely home. After that, every time he played something off, I always wondered if he was telling the truth or not.
He was over there when they caught Saddam Hussein. He thought that warranted a call to me in the middle of the night, and woke me up just to tell me that. I was just happy to hear his voice.
The stories he can tell are amazing. Stories from a land where its normal to see rats running down hallways amongst the people or swimming in toilets. the base. I am fascinated by the customs over there. No shoes in houses. Woman, totally covered up, are always to walk a step behind the men. Only shaking with the left hand, not with the right, as the right is the one you "wipe" with and it is considered an insult if you offer this hand. (Or is it the other way around? Regardless, one hand is off limits and an insult.)

Things I learned during all this?

Though it wasn't pleasant being separated during this time, I did learn a lot about myself. I am a lot stronger than I ever thought possible and I can pump my own gas if I really need too. ;) What he does and what he loves, make him who is. Do I ever want to go through it again? Nope, not really. Would I totally support him if he felt he needed to do it again? Absolutely. He makes me proud. I am a very lucky girl.

Other things I learned?

My husband looks hot in a uniform. That being said, when those guys put on that uniform, they are just a tad bit cockier than they were 15 seconds before they put it on.

Military base phones are monitored. Someone else can hear your conversation. Your husband will find this amusing when you,unknowingly, talk about things someone else probably shouldn’t hear. And he won’t tell you till after you've already said them and he's laughing so hard he can hardly tell you to shut up. I am just thankful these people don't know what I look like or where I live.

Most people are so supportive of our military. D and his buddy's got many thank you’s and free drinks, but then again have also gotten yelled at and obscenities thrown at them. They were one time even called “baby killers” at a buffet restaurant in Wichita one drill weekend. It's expected on a base in a "hot zone" but on your own home turf it is a bit more upsetting.

Be sure to thank a vet today...or any day. Because you will never ever know what they have given up and left behind at home to serve our country, so you can be free today.


Anonymous said...

Ok, I bawled my way through this, I remember some of the saddest eyes and faces during that time and the stress on your face most the time. This one hurts, but an awesome job of writing. Please dont ever stop, you touch people. love you all and thanks Danny for your service to our wonderful country.

Melanie said...

Hey-now it is working!! Great story-I had no idea! What a cool Veteran's day/Thanksgiving tribute!