Toughest Day in Military Life

26 Nov

Most people would guess I’m talking about the day we kiss our spouse and tell them “see you later.” However, we have all done this and will continue to do this, so it isn’t really our hardest day. All of us have thought about, dreaded, or experienced the day a phone call stops us in our tracks! The day we are told a family member back home has passed away or is in a life threatening situation. This has ALWAYS been my biggest fear and my biggest regret of this lifestyle!

I can deal with just about everything we are faced with, but one part of this life that really gets to me is the guilt from losing all the time while we live far away from family or the guilt of knowing our children were never raised near family. Sure they know who most our family is, we have pictures hanging all down our family hall (Providing us with necessary family tests before we make a visit home). Sure we try to make it home at least once a year if we are stateside. However, it kills me to think of all the grandchildren who get to spend weekends with Grandpa and Grandma, plan fun days of making cookies with Grandma, play with all their cousins on holidays, or visit their Grandpa while he is in the hospital!

Three days ago my Dad was sent in for open heart surgery. My parents thinking they were doing the “right thing” tried to wait till after the surgery was over before they informed us children. Why??? I will never understand why parents do this. My father-in-law did the same thing a few years back. Mark my words, I promise to never do this to my children!! Especially to any children who live far away. I understand the part where my Mom would rather sit in the hospital without having to take care of emotional children or worried family members. However, I can’t help but ask if their choice is an “accepted” selfish choice or a “hurtful” selfish choice? I’m going to say a mixture of the two. Mixture only because it seems to be every parents goal in life not to worry their children about health issues.

I’m confused with why parents think waiting to tell their children somehow makes the problem less worrisome or any easier to hear. Sadly, the decision to not tell family till “later” makes life so much harder on us military folks. When we don’t live near family so many things have to be arranged before a trip home can happen. Not to mention the 50/50 chance our service member can even get leave to go or leave to stay home with the children while we make the rush trip home.

I think we military depend on family to be more forthcoming and more honest due to our way of life. Not that they need to reveal all their life secrets, but honesty regarding their health status is vital! Like I said before, the guilt I have due to living so far way only intensifies when family become ill or when we are forced to say goodbye to a loved one. Is it is a selfish request to expect family to tell us when something is wrong? Ummm… Yes, their health concerns do make the issue at hand about them and not us, but I can’t help but ask “how would they feel if it was the other way around?” My parents would be beyond upset if I or anyone in my family were in the hospital and we waited till it was all over before we told them. Personally, I could never do that to them knowing we live so far away!

This experience has also brought to my attention how much I depend on my sisters because I live so far away. Sure my parents told my sister not to tell the rest of us about my Dad till after the surgery, but to me that is one of those requests that just can’t be fulfilled. Thankfully I was raised in a small town and I found out through other avenues. I will be honest and say it hurt knowing my family had no plans to tell me, but I’m hoping we all learned through this experience. We all depend on honesty and a close family remains close no matter what a family member may be facing. There is never a reason why someone must face a challenge on their own! That is what family is for, right?

I have thought a lot since the day I found out about my Dad. I decided I can sit around and mope about how it isn’t fair and how I wish it could be different. Or I can accept the challenges of this life and find ways to make them easier on my children and my guilt. Today we made get well cards for Grandpa and hopefully it won’t be too much longer till we can talk to him on the phone. Like anything, this has been a life lesson that has once again reminded me to live life to its fullest and do all I can to be involved with those we love no matter the miles that may separate us!

Please give your family an extra hug and have a memorable holiday season!!

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One Response to “Toughest Day in Military Life”

  1. Kelly Larson, MBA November 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    ~Facebook Comment~ Kelly this was just wonderful. I’m sorry but I was just like your mom. Not wanting to say until after you knew more of what was going on. But you have changed my point of view. I will now let my family know when ever anything happens. I’m so happy your dad is getting better. And keep writing you do such a wonderful job. Enjoy the rest of your holidays. Anne Finwall Biggs

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