Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Thoughts . . . My story

I sometimes don't think about Memorial Day as  I should.  The sacrifice of the men and women who fight and the families they leave behind is HUGE.  It is an amazing thing for these men to serve their country.  My husband was one of these men.  He never actually had to be in battle, but he did have to go to the Persian Gulf.  He spent several months in there about 3 years after we were married.  It was probably the loneliest time in my life.  For years we were a couple and then I was alone and I did not feel like I could really talk to anyone because not that many people could relate to having their husband gone for long periods of time.

We were separated a lot those first 4 years of marriage.  My husband was in the National Guard and he was called up the first time right after 9/11.  We did not know what he would do or where he would go.  I vividly remember coming home from getting a lot of groceries.  He met me outside of our house with a sad look on his face.  I was carrying in a bag of groceries and he told me he had gotten a call.  He would have to meet at the armory tomorrow and he didn't know where he was going.  At that time he was an MP (Military Police) and they were badly needed so he could have went anywhere.  All I could say was, "But I got all of these groceries.  Who is going to eat them?"  Fortunately, we soon found out he would be stationed state-side.  He was going to be at a military base about an hour and a half from where we lived.  This was probably the best case scenario at the time.

I really couldn't complain, but I wanted to.  I was a newlywed of just a year, living on his grandmother's farm at least 20 minutes from town.  Let me tell you I was not at all knowledgeable about how to take care of an old farm house, a garden or how to mow several acres.  The BEST thing about that was that my husband's aunt and uncle lived right by us so Uncle Jerry saved my day more times than I care to remember.

I ruined the potatoes and I bent the blade of the riding mower.  After the riding mower incident, Uncle Jerry put up bright orange flags at every stump in the yard so that I would not run over them.  I love that man.  I didn't cause too much damage beyond that but Jerry helped me out so many times!

My husband was living in barracks at the base and working crazy shifts.  He got to come home 2 days a week on most weeks so it was good to see him even that limited amount of time.  About this time I kind of freaked out about staying by myself at the farm so I begged him to let us move into an apartment close to my work.  My father-in-law had to move us so I know he loved that.  Back then I was not much of a planner or packer so you can only imagine how that move went.  My in-laws were very gracious though because I moved in with them for 3 months until we found an apartment.  It was actually pretty great for me.  I wasn't as lonely.

We plugged away for that year and saved up a bunch of money which was good and finally my husband got released from that deployment but he was in college when he got called up so when he came back he didn't really have a job and couldn't enroll in school because it was mid-semester.  So he worked at his friend's popcorn business and enrolled for the next semester.  He knew the whole time that he would be called up again but he did not tell me about it because he did not want me to worry.  He was pretty sure it would not be state-side the next time.

Well, it was just a couple of months later and I was sitting at work.  My husband was on his way to take a math test.  I got a call at work.  It was him.  He told me the news - he was getting called up again.  It had only been 4 months since his last deployment and I was terrified honestly.  I began crying at work and my friends came in to console  me.  We were pretty sure it would be overseas this time and soon found out that we were right.

Let me tell you that send off ceremony was so hard.  I just could not think about not seeing him again for so long.  I did not really sign up to be an Army wife so I was a reluctant one at best.  I should have depended on God more and I should have worried less and I should have been more supportive.  The send off was a blur.  Fortunately though he was going to Ft. Wood again and would be there for about 2 weeks before he left so I was still able to see him.

I made some bad decisions during this time.  One of which was to move back to my hometown which was about 500 miles from a city that my husband had lived in his entire life.  I was lonely and selfish and very afraid of being away from my family AND my husband.  Also during this time, my grandma was VERY sick and in the hospital.  I drove up there to see her and on my way back stopped to see my husband.  My grandpa and dad came down to move me and as we were moving our things back up - the day I was moving back, my grandma died.

If that wasn't hard enough I had to make the difficult decision to not go to her funeral so I could see my husband one last time before he had to go to his deployment.  I don't remember when we found out he would be SOMEWHERE in the Persian Gulf but we found out pretty soon.  He couldn't tell me where he was going.  It was so HARD.  I just prayed he wouldn't be in Iraq.

To be continued . . .


  1. Wow, Gretchen! I never knew. My husband was in the first Desert Storm back in the early 90's and he was stationed over in Iraq but that was before we were married. I can't imagine what it would be like to be without him for that long. Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to read the rest of the story. God Bless you, Gretchen!

  2. Being a military wife is hard that is for sure. Thank you for sharing your story. Looking forward to reading your next part..


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