Most of the photos here at Rabbit Run Cottage
can be enlarged just by clicking on each one!
There you go...see? Easy!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Navy, It's An Adventure For The Spouses At Home...

...but filled with warm memories and smiles even in the midst of loneliness. Our wonderful Sandi, a superb writer with a lot of heart, is someone you should all visit! Sandi has a post today about trees: artificial or real. Her post relates a story about being a Navy Wife and the pain of having your loved one away for the holidays. I think she will understand my borrowing from her and writing about one of our Christmases apart. As you will read on Sandi's "Holding Patterns" site , being a Navy spouse is tough duty. Most people know about the times when the ship is away due to war but even in peace time, the ships can be gone for months and months doing work ups (practice runs for upcoming cruises) or cruises. They often go away for days and weeks even when they are out of the cruise rotation cycle. It is a bit easier in today's Navy but Sandi and I well remember a time when there were no ship to shore calls home and no Internet service. Mail was sporadic at best and we only had the Red Cross wire service to rely on when a family member had an emergency. Bill was a flier so, even when the ship was in port, his squadron often was sent away to work on their air skills. To say it in simple terms, he was gone far more than he was home for years. It was terribly rough on him, it was Hell for me. I missed him desperately and often had no idea when he would be home. The guys were kept busy with work while the wives at home (Back in our early years it was all *wives who wait* as no women were aboard an aircraft carrier. That has changed now!), who were often under employed or stayed at home due to family responsibilities and moving so often, had more time on their hands to worry and fret. The families back home have to deal with the day to day issues, the parents & the in laws back home, the children, school, work, house, pets alone. All of the financial responsibility falls to the spouses at home. The house and car always develop a problem that must be dealt with and the children often have health issues to face. And the spouses do it all alone. Now, I am not complaining about everything! Nope. I became pretty good at bank issues and buying and selling houses. I handled car dealers and stood up to repair people who thought they had a dumb little blond to smooth talk. It was a skill I learned, under fire, so to speak. Believe me, I think old man Murphy wrote his *law* after watching military spouses. As soon as the service member leaves, chaos reigns! Dishwashers leak, car batteries die. Children develop pneumonia, grandparents pass away. It never fails. I survived hurricanes, tornadoes, roof leaks, car accidents, adoption proceedings, family members illnesses, births and deaths, triumphs and tragedies, Easters, Christmases, birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Days...all without the man I adored by my side. When he returned, Bill would feel so guilty but he did not needed not to be. It makes you stronger as a person and I always felt much sorrier for him. He missed out on so much . This brings us to my Christmas story. It was 1990. We became parents for the first time that April. Our son arrived from Korea and, with Murphy's Law fully engaged, Bill, as sent away in May. He was gone most of the Summer. I had a new 8 year old son who spoke no English and had severe dental problems and eye troubles. It was quite the busy Summer! Still, I found happiness. I was delighted to be a Mom after so many years of waiting. I loved our new son so and I was there to read bedtime stories each night and tousle his hair as I woke him in the morning. We got into our routines and had great fun together. I got to see his growth and changes each new day. It was Bill for which I ached. Bill and little Danny. The poor child had longed for a Daddy and his new one was so far away. We all looked forward to the upcoming Fall when we would be together again. The ship was due to be dry docked and Bill would be home for months. Blissful, long and sweet months. Then, as old Murphy could well have predicted, Iraq invaded Kuwait. With only a few days notice, Bill's carrier was dispatched to the Persian Gulf where it would remain for 9 months. He was to miss his new son's first day of school, first trick or treat experience, first Thanksgiving and yes, his first Christmas. Bill would spend Daniel's first holiday season across the globe preparing for war. He would not see Dan's face light up as he decorated the tree or sat on Santa's lap for the first time. Bill would miss the two of us baking cookies and wrapping gifts, singing carols in church and Dan's laughter as he watched "Christmas Vacation" over and over. Yes, we took pictures but they still make Bill sad. Uh huh, we shot a video but, to this day, Bill can not watch it without crying so it is rare we allow Daddy to see it with us. My parents and Bill's parents drove down to spend the holidays with us. My brother was already there so we had a wonderful week together. Okay, so I cried myself to sleep each night but hey! I missed my husband. The nights seemed unending but the days were filled with smiles and giggles and holiday cheer. Danny learned how to write the word *Christmas* and wrote notes to me that were hidden all over our quarters. I was still finding "Christmas Is Fun" and "I Love My Mom And Christmas" tucked away in drawers and under chairs when we packed to move the next Summer! Dan's first Santa was extraordinary. He actually spoke Korean and looked marvelous. He had heard us call Daniel by name and had one of his *Elves* ask about his history. As Dan approached the jolly old man, Santa beckoned by using his Korean name. I still tear up when I remember how Daniel's face glowed. It was a sweet moment for both my brother and for me. The season was imbued with joy, joy that I know was only there because of God's gift to us...the gift of our son. I was facing my worst nightmare as a military wife, a husband at war with no return date. But thanks to God above, I had joy in my life. I doubt I would have made it through those months quite as easily without our son. I don't relate this story now to garner any sympathy. I tell it now because we are again, still, at war. This is not a political post in any way. I will never write about my support or lack of support for any military conflict here. I simply wish to ask you all to pray for our troops and their families. As difficult as it is to have a loved one far away and in harm's way, it is doubly hard during the holiday season. My heart aches for the spouses who lie awake at night, sniffling in the dark, missing the one they hold most dear in the world. I know you will join me in praying for our troops, no matter what your political affiliation or opinion on the war. Our servicemen and women are there because it is their job and they were asked to go. It was not them who began the war but it IS them who fight it. It IS them who fight the extremes in temperature and bear the heavy weight of their necessary personal equipment. It IS them who face the enemy every day and still find the heart and charity to help the innocent citizens of this war. It IS them who endure loneliness and fear, pain and trauma. Please keep them in your hearts. But, to paraphrase the old quotation, "They still serve who wait at home." Please pray for the families who brave the separation and face the holiday season without their personal hero. Their heroes are OUR heroes. Merry Christmas to them all.

11 comments:

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Amen.....It is amazing to me what the human heart can handle....Bless you Sue, your husband Bill and your family. And bless all the service people and there families.
Penny

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Shoot - meant "their" families, not "there"

Mary said...

Dear Sue, I will honor their sacrifice, and keep them in my thoughts and prayers. I just wish there was something more I could do...
xoxo,
Mary

Janet said...

I cannot imagine sending a child or husband off to war; it makes me tremble to even think about it. These brave men and women and their families are in my thoughts and prayers constantly. Thanks for reminding us of the sacrifices they make that we aren't fully aware of.
Janet

Jolene George said...

I can't imagine the way it use to be Sue. How painful. I get to talk to my sweet boy Chad online quite a bit and it's still really difficult having him on the other side of the world...especially at the holiday's. During the times that I had to go long time without hearing from him, my stomach hurt so much with worry. Not knowing just kills me. No wonder your such a strong and amazing woman.
I sure love ya!

Greenie Gardens said...

Our troops make such sacrifices for us all. What a touching story. You brought tears to my eyes- some sad but some for the joy of your son. Thank you for sharing his first Christmas with us! Each Christmas you, Bill, Dan and Grace spend together must be extra special! I hope this one is the best ever.

Sandi McBride said...

I had to sit here for a bit before I could leave a comment. To say I was moved to tears is an understatement. You know, Navy Wives had it hard in that as soon as a potential employer discovered you were military, there went that job opportunity...getting a degree from nine different colleges...that's an experience...but when they're away for anniversaries, birthdays and holidays...it takes a lot of love and work to make a military marriage work...and the gremlins that always came to call as soon as those ships pulled out...I lost more applianaces that way! Ah, sister Navy Wife...I knew there was a reason I loved you other than the rabbits! And thanks for the kind words...

Sheila said...

Great post Sue.
I can't imagine coping as well as you did, i know I wouldn't have.
Christmas must be even more special to you now, that you are all together for the holidays..
Hugs
xx

Mama P said...

Sue, I learned so much about you with this post. What a wonderful article this would make. When things die down for me, I do believe we'll need to pitch this to a magazine. If you're okay with it, of course. We can always use fake names.

You are so wonderful. I adore your spirit and your heart. You're kids, adopted or not, are the luckiest kids in the world. Bill, too.

Pamela said...

tears welled in my eyes when you said he couldn't watch the video without crying.

Gretchen said...

Caution: Kleenex needed.

Soooo beautiful and such an amazing story. I have nothing but even more love and admiration for you now. You write as if you don't take anything in the world for granted. I bet that's because you don't.