A Colorful Experience

A Colorful Experience

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

A Colorful Experience

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my own ship.

Louisa May Alcott

I cannot figure out why they call us “military dependents,” since we are actually “military independents,”

although not necessarily by choice. In the military handbook, chapter 6, section 2, paragraph 3A, it states that the husband should plan the transfers and/or deployments so the spouse has to make all the arrangements without him. Just kidding! There is no such handbook! I’m just saying that most of us have experienced that kind of challenge at least once in a military career, and we just make it happen, and, most likely, two or three years later, we make it happen again.

Color me independent.

The first year we were married, my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I replied nonchalantly (like this was every woman’s dream), “a variable-speed reversible drill.” He got the biggest kick from my response, but thought that was the greatest thing (especially since a shipmate’s wife wanted a diamond ring and a fur coat). Well, he got me the drill for Christmas—a Craftsman from Sears, no less—and I’ve made good use of it at every duty station. (Sometimes, I even let him use it.)

Color me practical.

Window furnishings, especially with a variety of window sizes at each duty station, can get quite expensive. Well, I came up with the idea of using plastic shower curtains on the inside curtain rod and dressing it up with inexpensive white or beige sheers on the outer rod. In Adak, Alaska, where sun is scarce, I hung bright-yellow shower curtains in the dining room. When the daylight would shine through the yellow, it looked like the sun was shining outside. It was a great pick-me-up since dreary days can really bring you down. At the next duty station, “practical me” used my drill to hang or redo the curtain rods, “independent me” bought new shower curtains (different colors to coordinate with the new environment), and I used the same sheers. But wait—don’t throw the old shower curtains away! They make great drop cloths for household cleaning, carpentry, kids’ craft projects, and, of course, painting all those welcome-home signs for the guys returning from months of deployment.

Color me resourceful.

Families always try to do special things for their guy when he is deployed. At the family monthly support-group meetings, we’d hang up white bed sheets, one for each deployment site (don’t know who came up with this clever idea), and the wives and children would write messages or draw pictures for their spouse/daddy. It was especially nice to make different ones for the different holidays. The sheets were hung in the galleys at each deployment site, so, during chow time, all the guys could look for their personal message from their loved ones— an extra-special touch of home.

Color us creative.

The guys were deployed to Desert Shield/Storm through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Easter, so they received several message sheets. When my man came home and was unpacking, he handed me what seemed to be some bunched-up rags. I pulled them apart and discovered he cut out all my messages from the sheets and brought them home! How sweet! I was so touched. Many of the other husbands did the same thing. I’d surely like to have a video of the men cutting up those sheets.

Color them full of surprises!

I’m going to include those message cutouts in a memory quilt I’m planning to make someday when I’m retired. It will be sewn from high-school sports letters, presidential fitness patches, and logo cutouts from T-shirts and sweatshirts from every duty station, command, and running race that my husband participated in. (Also, pieces of lingerie, but don’t tell my husband—I’m full of surprises, too!)

Color me imaginative!

I love living on base. I can’t describe the sensation I feel when I see the troops running by and hearing them shouting out cadence at o’dark-thirty; the pride and goose bumps I experience seeing the American flag being raised every morning and lowered every evening. The “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless the USA” choke me up and bring tears to my eyes no matter how many times I hear them played. Since 9/11, every day, I’ve worn some combination of a red, white and blue ribbon with a variety of patriotic pins and a yellow ribbon. It’s in memory of those who died that day, in honor of the rescue workers, in support of our troops, in tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice ensuring our freedom and in pride of our wonderful country.

Color me proud to be a military spouse and an American!

Nancy Hall

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