Holding down the fort

  • Published
  • By Lisa McGovern
  • USAFE News Service
There have been many families from numerous squadrons bidding their loved ones tearful farewells as they deploy, knowing many greatly treasured days of the year will be missed with so many holidays falling within this Air and Space Expeditionary Force cycle.

There is nothing that can fill the void left by the absence of our loved ones, but it is important to consider how fortunate we are to have the facilities available to us to keep in touch.

I recall stories from my grandmother who would tell me of how she did not hear from my grandfather for almost two years as he served in World War II. During that time, she would religiously write to him once a week, announcing her love for him and telling of news on the home front, never knowing if the letters had been received. As it turned out, my grandfather would often receive many months worth of mail at a time, “Better than a thousand Christmases,” he would say.

For us, living in the world of instant gratification, we can fire off an e-mail into cyberspace and get a reply the same day. Morale calls, although limited in number, help the two way flow of communication from the front to home station. In retrospect, we are often far luckier than we realize.

Of course, as a spouse, there are days when you wake and feel a little sorry for yourself. Exactly how many hats can you balance on your head at once? Single-parent-hat, taxi-service-hat, chef-hat, plumber-hat, homework-tutor-hat, sports-coach-hat ... you all know that the list is endless. But somehow we do it, and we should be very proud of ourselves.

There may be times, however, when one of the hats starts to slip and falls off. The incredible thing about today’s Air Force is that there is always someone there to help you to pick the hat back up. That support and assistance can come in many different forms, anywhere from a lifelong friend, a new neighbor, a key spouse, a church group or a fellow squadron spouse.

The AEF journey is certainly much easier if it is not traveled alone. Be pro-active and seek out what is available to help you. And for the times you wake up and are ready to take on the world, check up on a squadron member with a deployed spouse, invite them over for coffee or just give them a call to see how they’re doing. A small act of support or kindness during a family member’s absence can transform a day ... the thought that someone is selflessly thinking of them is powerful enough to pop a smile on your face.

The return of the many members deployed on AEF 7 seems an awfully long time from now. I personally do not relish my husband missing our Thanksgiving feast, Christmas, his birthday, our anniversary or ringing in the New Year, but no holiday celebration can replicate just how incredibly proud I felt, watching the after-burners from the jets disappear into the night sky as my husband lead the 492nd Fighter Squadron that early Autumn morning.

Yes, I was sad, and yes, I shed a tear, but the thought that he and many others were so selflessly serving their country was, to quote my dear grandfather, “Better than a thousand Christmases.”