9.24.2009

Letter from a Military wife (title is link)


Normally I would have cried while reading this. Now, having the very distinct possibility of this being me in the near future, I started to cry before I even got through the first two sentences.

"Published June 11, 2009 03:02 pm -

Letter from a military wife

By Kathy Laffitte

“Honey, I’m deploying.” He states the words, slowly, quietly, waiting for the reaction. Will a book be thrown? Will there be door slamming. Will there be deafening silence? He waits … patiently … ready to duck. With a long, drawn-out sigh, heart pounding, the military wife’s questions come, “Where? When? How long?”

These separations never get easier, especially not the “missing him part,” but military wives learn to cope just like most of us learn to cope in stressful situations; in our own crazy way. The other option, falling apart, just doesn’t work too well.

New athletic prowess is discovered. We find ourselves running around neighborhoods, through fields, over hill and dale (well, if we had a hill and dale), trying to expend nervous energy from all the anxiety. Our knees begin to show signs of wear from all the time spent kneeling in prayer. And we have a strange fascination with closets, where we find ourselves at the end of the day, sitting or standing, trying to take in the scent left hanging on our husband’s clothes.

We also develop strong attachments to objects that ordinarily would make us shudder, like our husband’s old sweaty baseball cap. The one thing all military wives excel in is hope; hope that our husbands’ deployments will be “just another day at the office,” only with sand.

During the ensuing months, “busy” is the buzzword. If you are busy, you don’t have to think about those two guys that sometimes come to people’s doors bringing news no one wants to hear. You learn to play the guitar, speak Spanish, and visit long-lost relatives. You fold strange origami shapes or cut pictures out of magazines for no apparent reason.

Your cupboards get that organized Martha Stewart flair. If all the cans are placed in alphabetical order, from small to large, left to right, then surely the war will go OK.

Next comes the sloppy stage, who cares if the dishes get washed, there has to be some advantage to hubby being gone. You are often forgetful. You find yourself looking for the hairbrush in the laundry room, or the garage, because you know it is not in the pantry, that’s all organized.

New wardrobes are created; ugly flannel pajamas find new life, as you wear them repeatedly to watch old, black-and-white, romantic movies, three times in a row. There is always a new diet. You eat ravioli for breakfast, and cereal for dinner, just ’cause you can.

Children are an enormous help through this time. Loving military daughters make special homemade calendars, so mom can have the joy counting off the days until her man returns.

Grandma’s old adage “Don’t wish your life away,” slightly niggles at the back of our brains, as we gleefully cross off another day. It is important to note, that we cross off our days rather than tear them off, as we may have to recycle them for another deployment.

Our older sons and daughters impress us with their new ability to work on garage doors that won’t come down, find new ways into locked houses, or tackle lawns that grow at twice the rate than they normally would when dad is at home. Younger children delight us when they learn to go with the flow, by listening to dad read bedtime stories on tape, or learn to say “daddy” to the man in the picture frame that mommy keeps kissing.

Military wives teach everyone in the household to be on standby when the phone rings. Phone calls are tantamount to high hurdle Olympic events.

When the phone rings in a military household, leaps across tall buildings (or mounds of laundry) are not uncommon. You learn how to sidestep the dog, balance the plate in your hand, and keep the opened loaf of bread, and jar of peanut butter from falling to the floor, as you realize the kids have immersed themselves in your sloppy stage, to answer the phone for a telemarketer, whom you mistakenly thought was your husband.

When hubby does finally call, you’ve usually just entered the shower and lathered up your hair for a shampooing, or it is two in the morning, and you are barely coherent, when you answer the phone. But your heart still does a double take, when you hear his voice on the other end of the line, just like when you first met and fell in love.

You even learn to put up with the military operator who cuts into the conversation to say your call must end, just when you began an important story, and you always, always, end your calls with “I miss you, I love you,” while you wait for him to hang up the phone, because you don’t want to first.

You gently place the receiver back in the phone’s cradle, and you know without a shadow of a doubt that each day is a gift from God, not to be wasted.

One of the hardest things for a military wife to accept in every deployment is that her spouse has a second commitment — an undeniable love and commitment to his country. And while we may be jealous of this commitment at times, we are so very, very proud of him for answering our country’s call.

After the business, the sloppiness, the nights sitting in the closet, and the races to the phone, we do realize that our biggest asset is hope. Hope that mankind will someday learn to live with our differences, or maybe even learn to celebrate them. Hope that our country will someday be at peace again, and hope, and patient waiting, for our husband to call out, “honey I’m home,” and this time really mean it. Until then, I’m waiting, watching, praying, and hoping. Please join me.

Kathy Laffitte is a history teacher at Valwood School. She has been married to Greg Laffitte, who is in Iraq and regularly writes this column, for 27 years. She may be reached at klaffitte@valwood.org."


Support our troops everyone. Not just the deployed men and women either but the people stationed all over the US, the ones all over the world, the ones in training right now. All of them because what they are doing is sacrificing. They are sacrificing their time, energy, comfort, and yes their lives just so we can have a semblance of normalcy in our ever-bogged down, stressful, overwhelmingly busy lives. They keep us safe and free so even if you don't agree with the war or anything else going on in this country, support and RESPECT our troops. Each and every one of them.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

Toni can tell you about living this column- when Steve was in Afghanistan for almost a year. Whitney graduated from high school- with her dad watching on video from clear around the world. We'll hope and pray that Cody doesn't get deployed- but we pray for all the troops every day! Love you both! God bless America!