Well today is Thanksgiving. I have seen the usual ‘I am thankful for family, friends, etc’ posts and to tell the truth after the past few weeks today was going to be just another day for me. Some last minute cleaning, the baking and cooking to be done. Of course the family time. That is how it would have been if it were not for a series of events and a few new people that came into my life and two people (husband and wife) that I have never met, and never will, yet I now know so much about their lives and their more than 60 years of marriage.
The clerk at the corner Circle K has made even my angriest day bearable. This guy is always smiling, ALWAYS says hello/good morning, and he knows the customers by name or nickname. Even on what could have been HIS crappiest days, he was finding humor in the situation and the number of customers helping him out was staggering.
I could say that being a military spouse is hard and all that blah, blah, blah stuff. The truth is it isn't much harder than being a civilian wife… we just change locations frequently. Sometimes it happens when we really don’t want, or need, it to happen. Last Thursday I was informed that someone dear to me would be PCS’ing almost 2 months earlier than planned. She is my Wing-man at the Attic, my left arm, the one person I wholly trust to leave the keys with and she gets things done! She may be young but she is smart and uses common sense.
I will miss you dearly Hooker Wing-man!
Last Friday the Chaplains office called and said they had a donation to deliver. Normally donations are made on Tuesdays & Thursdays but this was special. A retired USAF service member had passed away and his widow generously donated almost their entire house! Furniture, clothing, kitchen wares, and decades of mementos and gifts acquired from around the world. On Tuesday we somberly opened boxes and began the task of sorting through the contents.
Side note - It is a little weird going through someone else’s things when you know they are dead. Most times donations are from those still living and not an entire lifetime of stuff.
The first few boxes were nothing out of the ordinary, we went about it quietly. Then we started to discover items from decades past. An old vacuum cleaner from the 40’s – 50’s. A ladies portable salon style hair dryer (my grandmother had one). An iron so old we were afraid to plug it in! Then we opened boxes that made us jump up and down in excitement. They had gifts and items from everywhere they had been stationed. From people they had met, and been friends with, everywhere around the world. Their 50th Anniversary album was in there as well as one of his personal diaries. 60 years of being together and she stood by her man until the very end. There was only 1 picture of them to be found among all the boxes and belongings.
It was at this point that these ‘things’ were not just things anymore.
They were memories of a lifetime together.
They were reminders of the good times and the bad times they had endured TOGETHER for over 60 years. Handmade items that each of them had made together and signed, dated, and location given. Items obtained at each duty station.
I got to thinking about how things happen in life. Some things we don’t like and some we do. But these things ALWAYS happen for a reason, a lesson to learn, enrichment to your life, a memory to cherish. These times are when we learn to love a little more, find out how much we can endure, lean on those we trust the most at our most vulnerable times. They become memories, good or bad, that we can reflect on… they help shape us and make us who we are. No matter where the next duty station in your life is you have to make the best of it, good days & bad days. They ALL become memories! From 120* temps to ghost towns, -42* and weeks of nighttime, day after day of dreary rain and family that drives you crazy… Oh sure ‘YOU HATE IT HERE’ but they all shape you and become memories you treasure, shake your head in disgust or laugh hysterically at in the years to come.
So today I am not only thankful for my family (even though they bailed on me) and my friends. I am thankful for all the people who have somehow in some way shaped my life into what it is. I am thankful to the military for giving me the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people, and some of the most revolting people too. Remember it takes all kinds to make the world go 'round!
And that picture we found in all that stuff? Well we hung it on the cork-board in the sorting room. We hung it in memory of the couple that had touched so many lives with theirs and through their generosity and the sharing of their lifetime of memories with others to create new memories in new lives.