I was a military wife for eight years. When I joined my husband at his first duty station, my grandmother said, “Trust the Lord and be safe.” However, after my own experience, I’d add a bit more.
I was twenty-three when my husband enlisted in the U. S. Air Force. We had two little girls. I vividly recall the day we left our families. My grandmother lived with my parents. She gave a few cautions and encouragements then drifted off into her morning nap.
My mother cried and held onto my daughters at the gate of my childhood home. I felt horrible for being the cause of her pain and the tears streaming down her cheeks remain in my mind to this day.
Military life wasn’t so bad and the traveling was one of the best experiences of our lives. In addition, my daughters were able to visit castles, learn a new language and participate in ethnic festivals that would have otherwise been impossible.
But back at home were parents and grandparents that acutely felt our absence. And they worried.
As parents and grandparents, I think the best thing we can do when our children choose to serve in the armed forces, is to keep in touch. It sounds simple but isn’t always the case. So, we should investigate which forms of communication we can utilize and make sure we’re equipped before they leave. Then as our loved ones change stations, they can set things up on their end.
Don’t forget the care packages. When you send one, you’re also caring for yourself. You satisfy the need to “do” something for your grandson or daughter rather than just speaking with them or praying.
Pride mixed with worry, wonder, and longing
There’s a saying among service personnel that goes something like this, “Military life is long stretches of boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror.” But I wonder what those at home would say, “Having a grandchild in the military means daily pride, occasional longing and panicked worry with certain news reports.”
Here are a few tips to make it through:
- Let all your friends and neighbors know your grandson or daughter has joined the military. This helps you keep it in perspective and hopefully, they’ll make thoughtful inquiries now and then.
- If you’re part of a religious group, put the name of your loved one on their prayer chain and keep them posted.
- Keep in touch with your son or daughter about your grand’s wellbeing and pray as needs arises.
- Realize that your grandchild is having many life-enriching experiences and smile.
- Put a bumper sticker on your car, “I have a grandchild in the armed services”, put a photo of them on your bathroom mirror or in your Bible.
- Send them off with something very special from you–the first time they leave. Perhaps a book of inspiring quotes or humor.
And lastly, do remind them to do what my grandmother said, ” Trust the Lord and be safe.” And that means us, too.