Tomorrow, November 11th is Veterans Day. In all the years that I have had my blog, I have never written a post to honor my Veteran on this day. I have shared about him and some of our adventures, but never on this day that honors Veterans.
This is hubby and I. Yes, it is an old picture, but one of my favorites. This was taken the summer before my hubby joined the U.S. Navy. We had been dating for a few years at this time. Neither of us had a clue as to what our future held, we were having fun, working, and being young.
In November of that year, I woke early to meet his father and him downtown. The sun was barely shining and a bus arrived that would take him to Pittsburgh, PA to be processed into the Navy and from there he would take his first flight to Orlando for boot camp. It was a sad good-bye for me and after the bus departed, I went home, changed and threw myself into work for the next few weeks.
He was able to come home for the Christmas holidays. I was overjoyed at the thought of him coming home. I anxiously waited to see his parent’s car pull up in front of our house, and I immediately ran to the front door to greet him.
At the door stood a familiar face, a familiar smile, and arms that felt so wonderful. But, this was no longer the high school boy I had been dating. Before me stood a military man. He left as the kid from high school, but came home so different. He had left the world we both knew so well and he came home a sailor. It took a couple of days for me to realize that he truly was the same kid I fell in love with, it was just that he now was part of the U.S. Navy.
During his brief visit home, we were engaged to be married. He placed a sparkling diamond on my finger and we once more said good-bye. We were beginning to see a pattern here that would repeat itself often throughout his career.
I planned our wedding and thirteen months later, we had our day. A part of our wedding had a John Denver song, “Follow Me”. The lyrics say, “You see I’d like to share my life with you And show you things I’ve seen Places that I’m going to places where I’ve been To have you there beside me and never be alone And all the time that you’re with me We will be at home Follow me where I go what I do and who I know Make it part of you to be a part of me Follow me up and down all the way Take my hand and I will follow you” I selected this as I thought it was romantic and sweet. Little did I know that it would become a way of life.
The day after our wedding, our adventure began. This man, who has been in my life since I was 15, has served our country. He has given me a number of adventures. We have lived in many places. He has missed birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, school events, life events. He met his youngest daughter eight and half months after her birth. He has had to switch mental gears often, becoming a gentle Daddy to little girls after a day or weeks of being solely a military man. He has made hard choices to leave the comfort of a home to be where he was needed. We learned that sometimes sacrifice was a priority, and I never saw him grumble about it.
We watched his career continue for almost 21 years, and then the girls, now in high school and middle school, watched with me as we saw him enter a retirement ceremony as an active duty sailor and leave to the tune of boatswain’s mate pipe as he walked out a Veteran. A few short steps and our grand adventure was over. No more deployments, no more separations.
There was a time when I looked at him and could see the readiness of our military. I could see him bounding up ladders on a ship. I could see his ready smile as he saw any of the ships moored on the base. I could feel his excitement, his love, his devotion to his career. It was honorable. I often stood amazed that he could be so devoted to family and at the same time be so devoted to his service to his country.
Now, I look at this man and the admiration is still there, although there is no bounding up any steps, let alone ladders! This man not only gave his life and youth to serving, but, he took me along with him. The love for his country and for the military easily spread to my heart. The adventure of his Navy career was short in the great scheme of life, however, it was one that filled my heart, and my mind with memories, remembered aromas from places we lived, and echoes of laughter and conversations with those we met and carry in our heart.
Veterans are truly special people. You see them often. The old men and women on the street, or at the stores. They are the young men and women, some crippled visibly and some not so visible. They deserve honor. They deserve praise. Yet, I am partial to my Veteran. He is my favorite. I have followed him, and will continue to take his hand, for when we are together we are home.
Thank you for stopping by today. I appreciate it, Cathi (DAF)