Real Army Wives: Grim Reminders and My Guardian Angel

*******This post is part of the series True Stories of Real Army Wives. This blog series takes place in 2003, at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. All names of current military members and their spouses are changed.******

To read last week’s post, click here.

Several things happened as that summer ended.

Ashley, a friend of mine from church and one of the first people I’d met in Killeen, experienced a tragedy. Her husband’s XO was shot and killed.

That was personal for Ashley. These casualties of war were personal to all of us, but it hurts so much more acutely when it’s someone you know.

Just knowing a friend of a friend was killed in action was haunting. Anytime someone young dies it just doesn’t feel right. It’s enough to make you scream. Why must there be so much ugly and injustice?

Who would be next? These reminders hung over our heads. None of us were safe. Not everyone was coming back home.

Good things still happened, though. Life went on.

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The Military Spouse of the Year Award

Kids’ papers often get turned in a day or two late. Sometimes things go missing for days before we find them at the bottom of a stack. My dining room table looks like…. Well, it looks like this:


My four-year-old loves to paint just as much as I love to blog.

This whole rule of disorder has been bothering me and also making me feel like a failure, so I decided to give up blogging.

“I’ll do it on the weekend,” I reasoned, “After all, I am committed to my True Stories of Real Army Wives Series, so that show must go on. I’ll just do that one each week, and I’ll become a better housekeeper. I mean stay-at-home moms are supposed to have TIDY houses, right?”

I took a couple of weeks off from the blog. It was a nice recharge. Maybe blogging is over for me.

Then I went to this Military Family Council Summit.

I opened my program. There was my picture. They used my Facebook profile photo, the one where I’m holding Daniel and look much prettier than I do in real life. (Thank you so much, Congressman Bishop and staff, for using a flattering photo!!!)

Reading my bio made me cringe. Is there anything more embarrassing than reading a write-up about yourself? Can I go hide under a chair? I do not belong here with all of these accomplished politicians and professionals.

I was sitting all alone because I’d made Alan turn around and go back home and change into his nicer uniform. Ha!

My phone buzzed. Alan sent me a text that said, “Don’t sit alone! Talk to people. Make a friend.”

I DO have a bubbly personality, but in certain situations, I suddenly struggle with feelings of total inferiority and instead draw in and go silent. Alan KNEW I’d be doing that, and I totally was.

A beautiful woman with a patriotic scarf and a sparkly USMC (U.S. Marine Corps) pin came over and talked to me. Her name was Andrea, and she was so charming and disarming. I finally started to feel at ease.

You can imagine my surprise when they announced her for the Keynote Panel, and she turned out to be the wife of the Sergeant Major of the entire U.S. Marine Corps.

I’m glad I had no idea when I was talking to her because I get all nervous and start eating my feet or running out of things to say.

Alan did make it there before too late, and then came the time for my Military Spouse of the Year for Fort Benning Award.

My nerves! Oh, but I felt so sheepish when they announced me as a “Professional Blogger.” After taking 2 weeks off from the blog, I was definitely not feeling like a pro.

It was an amazing day. Congressman Sanford Bishop presented me with a flag that was flown over the US Capitol in my honor, with a plaque certificate. Plus, I got to meet him and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (of Washington). This was so exciting!!

I also learned a TON of new things at the Military Family Council Summit, which I can’t wait to share with all of you here on the blog.

U.S. Representatives Bishop and McMorris Rodgers are the co-chairs of the Military Family Caucus, and we are always full of gratitude for them and all they do for military families.

I also want to say THANK YOU to my friend Chanda Chann for nominating me for this award, and to ALL of YOU who voted for me last winter. I’ve always said that I have the best friends!

I know what you’re wondering. Did I not take any pictures? No. Tragic, right? I bet Alan has a photo or two on his phone. I’ll share those once I get them!

But it is FUNNY FRIDAY, so here’s one more photo for ya:

This was how we kept John David busy last week: a $1 roll of leftover ribbon from the Dollar Tree. Yes, he unraveled it all over the entire house, leaving trails and tangles, but it was worth it. See? I told you I need to spend less time blogging and more time keeping house.

See, entertaining small children really isn’t all that different from busying cats. 😉 So the next day we gave him yarn. Haaaahaha

Have a wonderful weekend, y’all!




Kids’ Names, The Cop, & Living a Life that Matters

Real Army Wives Series *******This post is part of the series, The Real Army Wives. For last week’s chapter, click here.*************** Friday, July 8, 2003 Alan, Hey! I’m being bad. I’m in class, and we are watching a truly boring video. So I’ve been brainstorming children’s names for our future children. These are some that I have come up with. Tell me what you think, and try to think of some names to add to the list. 🙂


Gracie Elizabeth  (my favorite) Kathryn Jennings (Call her Katie.) Autumn Faith


Cody Alan John David David Alan  (but David is such a common name.) 🙂 I know I said we’d wait 5 years, but I hope you don’t really plan on sticking to that… 🙂 I just can’t wait for you to get back! I got a letter from you today. It was written June 23, and the CMIC had been attacked in broad daylight. : ( I’m wondering if you are in Ad Dwar yet and how that is going. I REALLY hope you like your new job. I know you’ll be great at it. You’re great at everything you do. #1 Cadet–RA of the Year–Cum Laude—You are amazing. I love you, April


July was an exciting month.

My house was an active hub where we came together when we were tired of being alone. The house next door was also a hub because it seemed like Katherine and Nick’s (The Beefcake’s) house was always hosting one or several long-term house guests. First, Nick’s cousin Jay moved in. Then there was Phan. Jay stayed the whole year, but Phan was only there for a few months. Later they also introduced us to Tegann and Josh. Between Katherine’s house and my house, our little corner of the street was a regular YMCA for 20-somethings.

Those duplexes were an unbeatable support system.

On the flip side, Shelby, on the other half of my duplex, was not handling the deployment so well. By this point she was having an obvious affair, with her new boyfriend’s car always parked in the driveway. I remember saying, “Well, if it’s any comfort to her husband, she fights with her boyfriends just as much as she ever fought with her husband.” I never got to know Shelby. I did help her out with the cops once.

It was in the middle of the day when a lady cop knocked on my door.

“Do you know the people who live next door? I keep knocking, but no one answers.” “Yes, I know them. She’s at work right now, and the kids are at school.” “We received a complaint, and do you know if these kids spend a lot of time at home alone?” Oh, boy. “Well, usually if they get home and Shelby’s not there, they come over here, and I watch them.” This was true. “Our caller said that there’s a two-year-old and a baby?” “No. no. They are like 10 and 7. There’s no babies, and I would know. You can hear everything through these walls. That is so weird that anyone would say that. It’s not a perfect home, but I don’t believe there’s any neglect, and I know there are no babies. They are home alone sometimes, but not for long, and the oldest is very responsible.” The cop was satisfied and left. Yes, I watched those kids sometimes, but as their neighbor,  I felt like that made me part of their ‘village’, their built-in support system. I wasn’t about to start buddying up to Shelby, but I was happy to help her children. That afternoon, Shelby and her two children knocked on my door. She apologized for the cop showing up and explained that her dad was crazy and was trying to get back at her. He was the one who called the police. I’m sure Shelby knew that I knew what a wreck her life was, but I knew in my bones that for some reason I wasn’t meant to be the person to help her, even though I did want to. I focused more on the children.


I also had my own, much less troubling, problems to sort out. I was talking to Elsie about how I’d missed Granny Mary’s funeral, which kind of put me in the dog house with my family. I was thinking about going down on July 26th weekend for my other Granny’s 90th birthday party.

Elsie thought quickly, “Fly down on the 25th, and we’ll be on the same plane!!”

We got Elsie’s flight numbers and I booked it. Up to that point, I had flown a few times, always by myself, except for our honeymoon. Elsie and I were so excited to get to fly home together! I wrote Alan all about it, and I told him, “How cool is it that there is a girl–my age–across the street–who I like being around–whose from my home town–and whose husband is deployed too????? That does NOT just happen. That’s God working. And you know, during this deployment, I’ve only seen Elsie get teary-eyed once, and that was the day she was here, and you called me while she was here. It wasn’t jealousy or sadness or anger. It was just pure emotion because she was happy for me. It’s so weird when you know EXACTLY what someone else is going through.”


Meanwhile, I began interviewing for teaching jobs and continued my teacher classes, and I felt happy. I didn’t need Ambien to go to sleep anymore.

In my letter to Alan, I explained,

“Our relationship has just put my life on such a—an unusual course, but you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for anything!! Not only do I have a man who I know loves me more than anyone, but I have a life that matters. It matters. It matters to the kids next door. It matters to the kids I will one day teach. It matters to Sarah, and Cloe, and Elsie. And of course, it matters to you. Isn’t that what we all want? To know that we matter? The FRG (Family Readiness Group) people are telling us not to expect y’all home until next March, though nothing is official yet. I’m choosing not to believe it because it is still up in the air. So I’m okay. For now, I’m better than okay. I’m happy. And you are still such a big part of that. Your letters–wow–your letters are a lifeline to me. Keep those bad boys coming.”   Last week’s chapter

Click here to read the next chapter.



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