Thursday, July 31, 2008

Something in common

Today was another fun filled morning at the big base (and for those of you familiar with WP you can only imagine how small our base is if WP seems big!). Dash-2 had his 18 mth checkup, a month and a half late but I prefer my kids to actually see a pediatrician for their well baby check instead of an adult doctor who's on loan of WR and is really a podiatrist. Call me picky that way.

Anyways, he's doing spectacular, he weighed in at 23 pounds. Despite having never met a food he wont eat he's only in the 20th percentile for his weight. The irony is not lost on me that I am paying to lose weight yet for some reason my kids are on the small size.

So after the errands at the hospital, quick commissary run, dropping off dry cleaning, we went to get lunch in the little food court. Although really is it a food court if there is only one place there to eat? I drift.

I let dash-1 pick where we sat and he happened to choose a table right next to a woman my grandparents age and her son. I apologized in advance for what would probably not be a peaceful lunch. They seemed amused with the boys. The gentleman told me that everyone was put on earth to amuse others, and so today we were there amusement. An excellent way to look at it... because amuse we do.

As soon as I got the food placed in front of the kids dash-1 had to go potty. Of course. I looked over to ask if they could just keep an eye on our things and they were laughing softly. I took this to be a yes.

When we got back and settled the woman leaned over to talk to me, she spoke so soft I could barely hear her over the yammering of my kids. She said, "I have been there, they were the best years of my life. A mother is more skilled in commanding and leading them a platoon leader."

Ain't that the truth?

It turns out that she met her husband, an Army man, after WW2 and when they were a young married couple with two little boys he headed off to Korea for a 16 mth tour. She said that they had no email, no phone calls, and the mail was pitiful. She said he came home only to then have to go to Germany for 2 years which at that time was an unaccompanied tour. At that point they had three kids. She said he was just around long enough to give her more work! But she said it with a smile and looked longingly at my boys when she said it.

It turns out her son who was eating with her was a retired Navy Corpsman, who had served with a Marine Air Wing so we had plenty to talk about. It kept going back to our kids. I told her that I recently had a civilian acquaintance offer her two cents that the life we lead was unfair to our kids and that by being a military family we are hurting them. I looked this woman in the eyes when I told her that in a way that not everyone can understand we are doing it for them. That while I know it isn't always an ideal family life, we are doing it to provide for them, to instill in them a responsibility. She just nodded and said,"You do the best you can. Lots of people asked me how I could do it and my answer always is I just did."

It was an amazing conversation with a total stranger who understood this part of my life better then most of my friends. She understands the exhaustion in being a single parent so much of the time, she has felt the hurt in having to explain again and again where daddy is and why he isn't home, she understands that holidays and birthdays spent together are normally the exception to the rule and should be cherished.

She smiled when I told her that I realized today at the doctors appointment when I was filling out the 18mth questionnaire that both boys had the very same first three word combination (they make you fill out what it is and I remember it vividly from dash-1). "daddy airplane bye-bye"

Its an amazing bond that military wives have. Generations apart, different wars, new technology to help with communications, but yet so much is the same and so much is understood.

I will try to remember this the next time a retiree disregards the line at the commissary cuts in front of me or parks crazy in the parking lot.


  1. Oh, I am so happy you had this experience today. It seems to be just the thing you need to warm your soul after our talk last night. The family you met sounds absolutely wonderful and I think you really needed someone to connect with and I always feel like you can't do it with me because #1: I'm not a mili-wife (I'm an idiot-wife ha ha..)
    and #2: I don't have kids.

    I feel bad I can't offer you any suggestions or condolensces b/c I do want you know I am always here and I don't mind being a sounding board...even I don't know what it's like to change diapers and pick up legos and run a little troop of my own :) I will always try to understand!

    Bless that woman, I hope she put a big smile on your face and gave you a peaceful state of mind today.

    Love you my Mrs.

  2. They've seen it and they've been there. They know what's important and what isn't.

    It's so nice to meet people who make your day brighter. Especially strangers. It just renews your enthusiasm for life.

  3. It really makes you reflect on your own situation when you meet someone like that and hear what they've been through. My hubby's grandfather (legally father, they raised him) was in Vietnam for 5 years and only saw his wife enough to knock her up each time he came home! I always kept them in mind when I wanted to complain about lack of communication or contact with my own hubby.

    I'm glad that your experience on base was a good one today!

  4. how great is that friend?

    such a special moment indeed :)

  5. I love talking to the wives of the VA patients here. I love hearing their stories. I'm so glad that you got to talk to her!

  6. That's awesome! I'd love sit and chat with a seasoned military wife that way. I'm sure they'd have tons of valuable advice to share.

  7. Sometimes things just happen when we need them. This one was perfect.

  8. What a sweet woman. Just refreshing to read, you know?

    I love the 3 word combo!

  9. That is such a touching story. You are so good at rocognizing moments like that. Where you connect to another person even over the humm of your kids.

  10. That is just....well it made me feel fuzzy all over. I am glad that you met her and were able to connect, if only for a little while! I wish we had been back from TX so I could have met you in person!


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