Military families are a unique group of people. Separated from biological families, they have to make and become part of a new family with each duty station. Their children have very little access to their real cousins, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents. So, in the absence of having blood relations around, family units are formed and the bond is as strong as it would be if you had grown up in your hometown.
As is common in some families, though, there are times where there is little communication and days of not talking can turn into weeks, months and eventually years. You think of them, you pray for them, but life continues and soon you realize that you have lost touch with them. Their names are no longer on your Christmas card list, and their birthdays are no longer marked on the calendar. You have the memories of them, you smile to yourself as you remember the duty station and the things you had in common, but, for the most part, you smile and once more tuck the memories away in the file in your heart labeled (for me) Norfolk, Yokosuka, Nagai, Bangor, Winter Harbor, San Diego.
And then… your text notification goes off at 2:00 a.m.. My first thought was to ignore it. My second thought, it may be one of the girls and you panic trying to figure out what happened and if the grand-babies are okay. The third thought is, ‘Put on your glasses dummy and see who it was” . So, at 2:05 a.m., I fumble for my glasses, and stumble into the bathroom, turn on the light and bleary-eyed read the text. It was urgent sounding. Prayer needed. No name, just a phone number. My next thought was, “poor thing. must be a wrong number since there was no name attached to the text.” I pray for this person and then the area code sinks into my brain. I recognize the area code, I used to have this area code. By now I am mentally awake. I scroll down and realize it is a different number than the Maine numbers I have. I pray a bit harder.
I get back to sleep after feeling like I had prayed enough. It was a group text and honestly, I think people get up way too early on Sundays. My notifications started to go off at 5:30 a.m.. One after another. I finally put my phone under my pillow so it wasn’t so annoying, after all, I had my alarm set for 7 a.m. and I didn’t want to over sleep!
In a nutshell, all of the texts and commotion through the night was for a ‘family’ member from Winter Harbor. She is ill, and in the hospital. She was one that had been lost for me. It was her number that showed up on my phone. Today I talked with her for the first time in I can’t remember how long. We laughed and shared memories and prayed together. It brought a smile to my face.
Then an hour ago, another unidentified phone number showed up on my phone. I answered and figured it was a sales call. It was not. It was someone else that I had lost touch with. She was part of that family in Winter Harbor. I recognized her voice, as with family, you do not have to identify yourself when calling. You know the voice. Your heart recognizes the voice. We visited for a short time and the call ended.
In hanging up from that call, I realized that our adopted families are just like our biological families. We know we are there. We can call, or choose not to. We can message, text, write a letter, share a post, or we can decide not to. But, when there is an event, or an emergency, family comes together. We may not be as close as we once were, and we may no longer see eye to eye on everything, but, we will come together to pray, to support, to hold one another up.
I am grateful for my adopted families. My life has been shaped and formed through knowing them. My mind and heart are filled with memories shared with them. When I think of them, I am transported to the housing area that had a perfect view of Mt. Fuji, rice paddies, and yakitori stands. Or, I am immediately put on the rock-bound coast of Maine, with the sea smell and lobster traps. Images and smells and sounds of my life. Littered with snippets of people who have encouraged me, challenged me, supported me and laughed with me. So, to my siblings that have been on my mind and heart today, Mike, Cindy, Debbie, Dick, Maggie, Jackie, Bob, Susie, Vance, Ruthie, Neil, Rosalee, and so many more, thank you for making me me. My life has been so blessed by you all. I love you. And, to my nieces and nephews, Janna, Wendy, Cathy, Beth, Dawn, Paige, Kelly, Kevin, and Aimee, I love you. You are missed and your young lives made me smile in so many ways, thank you for the blessing of being you. (Disclaimer: I failed to mention another Vance, who started as an adopted part of family, but became family, as did his mom, dad and sister and he became Little Man’s daddy)
Thanks for dropping by today and for reading my stroll down memory lane. Cathi (DAF)
5 thoughts on “Navy Family…”
You said it so well! I try often tell folks about that bond, but unless they have been in the service or missionary service or something similar, they don’t understand. Right now I am praying for a friend who has cancer. I haven’t seen her for maybe 40 years. She babysat our girls. I don’t know how we stayed in touch through numerous moves – maybe Christmas cards. But there is a bond. We got the group text, too – were pretty confused, but figured out who to pray for. I sometimes envy those who have stayed in their hometown and have long-term friendships, but then I realize the depths of those friendships that were made at various Navy bases, and I am thankful.
I am thankful for you and Neil. My sister wrote that she too, had those experiences with moving like she did, and she wasn’t military. What would we do without our adopted families? Love you Ruthie!
Aah, it comes together after reading this. A dear friend once told me that the reason we can come together after a long absence is because we have a history together. She was correct. The cord that binds us isn’t that we are former military, but that we share a relationship with Christ – we are an eternal family. So when the call comes at 2:30am or 5:30 we are there for one another. We pray, get on a plane, drive across country, sit in a hospital, wipe a bow, feed one another soup — whatever we can to meet the need. It’s what family does.
**wipe a brow**
well said, Susie, well said. And we have both done this… ❤