This past weekend my husband and I celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary. It is almost impossible to think that we have been married for so long. Where did the time go? It really doesn’t seem that long ago…and yet a lot of people have no idea what life was like in 1962.
For me it seemed ideal although looking at it now I wonder how. My husband was a new officer just graduated from West Point and beginning some training. He was in paratrooper school and went on to ranger training. During ranger training he was gone. How in the world did I think that was ideal. I guess I was living in a bubble of newly wed happiness. I think the saving grace was having other wives going through the same thing and us becoming friends. Friends were made quickly as we all needed support. We were lucky as our husbands had known each other at West Point and that made it easier.
Our life in the service was challenging. We moved often and I was alone a good bit. Some things were wonderful…the birth of our first child…language school in Monterey…living in Panama, Central America.
Times were also tough with spending two different years alone with children while my husband served in Viet Nam. I don’t know how I managed the worry but I seemed to cope with the stress and loneliness. Children are wonderful companions but they don’t replace a beloved spouse.
Our last tour was a joy. My husband went to graduate school and then taught math at West Point. It was an amazing experience.
There have been many years and many different jobs for each of us since his retirement from the military and life has been good. Our three adult children, their spouses, our six grandchildren, one great grandchild and one on the way have added great joy.
Today is Memorial Day. It is a day for thanksgiving for those who gave their lives that we might live free. This day is hard for me to write about since my husband was in the Army for 20 years. He spent two years in Viet Nam fighting a senseless war. He graduated from West Point in 1962 and felt obligated to serve in the war. Wars run by politicians cannot be won. All the idiotic rules that governed what could and could not be done made it impossible. I could give many examples of this but it would not only take too long but also bring up too many bad memories.
My husband does not talk about the war except for a few incidents that had some humor attached to them. He fought in the battle of Dak To which was so badly run that many people died. He won’t talk about this.
We have been to the Viet Nam Memorial Wall but he will never go again. There are too many friend’s names on it.
I spent those years at home with our children worrying about him. There was little communication with loved ones during WWI, WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam. I even had to number my letters so that he knew if some were missing. His letters to me came in bunches. Communication is better now but it doesn’t take away the worry.
This is the fate of families today who wait for loved ones in danger.I grieve for both the soldier and the family. Many families don’t survive the separation. Please pray for those soldiers and their families.
A friend and I were reminiscing yesterday and I wanted to share some memories from the “ancient person.”
I remember lying in front of our fireplace and listening to the radio. Yes radio! Fun programs like “Let’s pretend, The Shadow, Fibber Magee and Molly, and many more. There was something enchanting about picturing the stories in your own mind.
I remember watching TV for the first time. Of course black and white, tiny screen.
I remember playing outside in the twilight..Kick the Can, Hide and Seek.
I remember visiting my Aunt and seeing the horse drawn milk delivery truck. The horse knew the route and moved to the next stop while the man took the milk to the door and picked up the empty bottles to be washed and used again. She lived in what was a small town at that time.
I remember standing in my front yard (on a main highway) and watching convoys of military vehicles going to a nearby post. I was quite young but still remember this from WWII.
I remember hanging clothes on the line outside to dry and running to bring them in if it started to rain.
I remember, in my teens, taking a bus to Washington DC, (we lived in the suburbs) and visiting the museums and Smithsonian. Taking the bus home and being perfectly safe.
I remember watching the McCarthy hearings and being upset that people could be treated that way.
Today I am so tired. I hardly slept at all last night. Saying that makes me want to go on the with the son ” tossing and turning, turning and tossing, tossing and turning all night.” I guess that speaks about my age. In 1961 I was finishing my last year in college and looking forward to getting married in June of 1962.
The movie “American Graffiti” tole about this era andwas the precursor to Grease. I still love all the music from this time. It was magic to me. Everyone knows the following song. Bette Midler used it in the the film Beaches. Hope you enjoy this little memory from the past.
Many times when I am reading other’s blogs I see the tragedies they have endured. So many had childhoods fraught with abuse, neglect and pain. My life has been so different. I makes me wonder why I have been plagued with anxiety and IBSD. Then I remember that even though I grew up in a loving family attitudes and ideas about parenting were different.
My mother was isolated from me when I was small. I remember little about it. She was diagnosed with TB that she caught from my paternal grandfather. She had a very mild lung case and was allowed to stay at home in a separate part of the house. Unfortunately, the TB attacked her adrenaline gland and the doctors were unaware of this. She was well for a while and then by my early teens had declined and was quite ill but no one was able to diagnose her disease. The ins and outs of that period are for another post.
The bottom line is that I was aware that my mother was very ill but the family never talked about it with me. It was thought that you didn’t share this with children. She was in and out of the hospital and my aunt would come to help and keep me entertained by taking me shopping. Needless to say this was not a good coping skill to be learned by a teenager.
Just prior to succumbing to her illness she was diagnosed with Addison’s disease and lived to be 95. I know now that those years of her illness were terrifying for me and explain anxiety and fear of illness. Anxiety and all its companions also run in my family.
It is nice to know why I suffered in those years and it is wonderful to have coping skills that keep me sane. So much was not understood in those days and mental health was not discussed or treated. Women had the vapors and spent several days in the hospital with “nerves.”
Even though mental health is not treated as well as it should be it is much better than in my growing years. I am grateful for the strides that have given others help and hope. I pray that things will continue to improve and that one day things will be much better.
Life moves along. The things we knew slide away and new things come. The church that I used to work for has 2 new pastors. They seem to have jumped in with vigor and lots of things are going on. This is a really good thing. The offices, which were in another building, have been moved back to the church building and rooms have been updated. This is moving forward.
I was there today and it did bring memories and nostalgia about the past. There are things that I will miss. A while ago I said I should have a T-shirt made that says “I have survived 8 pastors.” If I added the ones I worked with before that job it would be even more. Each one had their own personality and own way of doing things. Part of the job is to support the pastor so I learned the ways and ideas of each one. It feels strange not to be doing that with these two but it is time to help elsewhere.
We have all talked about dealing with change. it is a constant like death and taxes. There are changes that are easy to move on from and some that are not. Regardless that is life. There will always be changes that we will regret and mourn. That is as it should be. We just have to accept that there are things we can’t do anything about and we don’t need to get hung up on them.
We have to move on to new things ourselves and find our place and our fulfillment somewhere else.
Ever since I was a child I have loved folk music. I had a teacher in second grade who taught us folk songs and played the auto harp. I love to play and sing those old songs. They tell stories of past times. Songs like “Barbara Allen” and “Darlin’ Clementine” teach us about the people and how they lived. I fear we are losing that history.
Here is Barbara Allen sung by Joan Baez
There was a folk song revival in the 60’s and many of those old favorites were done by people such as The Lime-lighters, The Kingston Trio, and The Mamas and the Papas. New songs were written about the era of the sixties like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” with Peter, Paul and Mary.
For a while John Denver continued the tradition and I still love his songs.
I don’t know how many of you have good friends but I sure hope you do. A good friend, a lifetime friend is a treasure beyond compare. Most of us are blessed if there is one such person in our lives. Some people in our lives are friends and they may be kind a caring but they are still not the one who would back you up if the whole world was against you.
I have been thinking about this because three years ago in January I lost one of those friends. We knew the good and bad about each other and it didn’t matter. We didn’t live close for quite a while but on the phone it was as if we had seen each other the day before. Nothing ever changed the link we had with each other.
During her illness I was blessed to live close enough to help her and was with her when she faced her death. She was the kind of person who drew people to her and many mourned her passing. She, like me, was not perfect but she was my friend.
Following are some excerpts from Proverbs that have to do with a wife but they apply to her friendship with me also.
A good wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
20 She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”