by Joyce Lamb)
Today, HEA welcomes Kim Lowe of the SOS Aloha blog to help us honor our military and their families during National Military Appreciation Month. Kim is joining us every Wednesday this month to share with us the memories of authors who have military connections. (Don't miss last week's post, about military "brats.
Kim: Today's topic: military spouses. They're the glue that keeps the family together through training, deployments and cross-country moves. Authors connected to the military share their experiences as spouses:
Anne Elizabeth, author of Once a SEAL
All around me (at the West Coast SEAL reunion), there were people laughing and embracing each other. There were Frogmen and SEALs that hadn't seen each other years, and wives that greeted each other, after decades of being apart, like sisters, and they tended to pick up right where they'd left off in their last conversation. It was the camaraderie of not just friends, but family. This is the community I am a part of ... so I have always been comfortable introducing myself to people I don't necessarily know. There was this one man that made his rounds looking for someone. Without any luck, he'd separated himself and sat down at a far-off table. I approached him slowly and asked to sit, and then I introduced myself.
He encouraged me to sit down, and I seated myself across from him with great concern. His body was shaking and he was very pale. His hands wiped quickly over his eyes as he asked me if I knew of a certain frogman who had been his swim-buddy. I didn't know the frog, but I knew someone who would. So I bade him to please stay put, and then I found a frogman whose class was in the single digits and brought him over.
They both wanted me to stay as they talked about this particular Navy man ... a Silver Star recipient and a frogman that had changed lives by his acts of heroism and his belief in others. How did this moment change my life? Because it helped me to see that we live on — through the stories of other, by our acts on this planet, and by the unwavering belief and forthright joy we share with others. The men cried together, and the power of their sorrow and pleasure at having known the frog was palpable.
I was a witness to this incredible moment, and I vowed to myself to never forget these frogmen — the one that passed or the two that celebrated him — and to strive to always bring the best of myself to my life, my family and friends, and my career, because the point of the story was that the difference we make today ... can last beyond a lifetime.
Jamie Farrell, author of Southern Fried Blues
One of my biggest challenges with military life is that we always live so far from family. But the military community is so open and friendly and understanding that they become another kind of family.
Our previous assignment, I met a fellow military wife who is now one of my best friends when I called her and said, "Hi. I'm Jamie. We haven't met, but I'm alone in your house, and your fish tank is overheating." (I should probably clarify that her husband had asked me to fish-sit in the middle of their complicated move to the area, and I'm not the military-spouse-by-day, fish-savior-by-night superhero.) During our last military move, our washer and dryer were stuck on a moving truck for almost three weeks. Our brand new neighbors didn't hesitate to not only offer use of theirs, but they also switched loads for us. We'd met them three days before, and they didn't blink at handling our delicates. When our household goods finally arrived, they took all three of our kids — even the baby, who was very much a mama's girl — and fed them and entertained them for two days so we could get our house set up.
The instant camaraderie and trust for one another, from first meetings through going-away lunches to virtual hugs on Facebook, is something special. So is the sense of humor that's necessary to get through the hard and unusual times. There are challenges to our lifestyle, but the friendships in the military family are an immeasurable reward.
Carlene Love Flores, author of Sidewalk Flower
Man, I love the Army. Still do even after hubby's retirement last year with 21 years and nine months of service. I have no idea how to pick just one thing I loved about my time as a military spouse, but what's bubbling up from my heart right now, saying "Pick me, pick me" is the man my hubby became because of being a soldier. He joined when he was 17. We were high school sweethearts and I loved him because I saw his good heart, but he was a bit prickly, shall we say. Well, the Army found a way to work hubby from a cantankerous cactus into a porcupine, still spiky but with heart. You know what they say ... You can rub a porcupine two ways, but there's really no way to rub a cactus. If you've never heard that, I may have just made it up. All fooling aside, the Army trained him, challenged him, rewarded him, and then when the times called for it, sent him off to war, but never alone, and they were there for him when he came home. When family and friends would offer me their kind words of support upon his year-long deployments, I'd lovingly cherish those words and wishes, but I'd be sure to say not to be sad for us because I sure wasn't. I was proud. Hubby didn't grow up with a father, but he had the United States Army. I guess I can say my father-in-law is one heck of a man, just like his son. My love and heart go out to all those with military ties this month of Armed Forces Appreciation!
Elle James, author of SEAL's Honor
My first husband was on active duty in the U.S. Army and spent time as a company commander at a Basic Training unit at Ft. McClellan, Alabama. I remember hearing the brand new soldiers singing jodies as they marched or ran in formation behind the housing area. It made me proud to be a part of the military, supporting the man who helped these boys grow into men.
Kieran Kramer, author of When Harry Met Molly
My husband, Chuck, is now a naval reserve commander who went on several six- to nine-month deployments when he was on active duty. I was alone a lot with the babies. But eventually he got out of the Navy and joined the Reserves. I thought long deployments were behind us for good. But when our two oldest kids were in high school and the youngest was in elementary school, he was called up to go to Afghanistan, the only one to be plucked from his reserve unit. While he was gone, I decided to be brave at home and try to realize my dream to be a published author. It was while he was gone, when I was working full time, that I wrote When Harry Met Molly, my first book that sold. I missed my husband soooo much, and I know that my intense emotions during that time inspired Harry and Molly's love story.
Kim Lowe is an Air Force spouse, Air Force veteran and romance book blogger at SOS Aloha.