Valiant mil­i­tary spouses de­serve na­tion’s thanks

North Bay Nugget - - OPINION - Gordon Forbes — Gordon Forbes is a re­tired Royal Cana­dian Navy of­fi­cer who’s been mar­ried 51 years.

they could be all around you. they may live on your street or in your neigh­bour­hood.

there are two on our street and two more who were once part of the group.

you may run into them in the gro­cery store or the gym.

Who are these strange crea­tures? they are mil­i­tary spouses, of ei­ther gen­der. and they are the real hero­ines and heroes be­hind so many of our mil­i­tary per­son­nel and vet­er­ans.

dur­ing this pe­riod of re­mem­brance, they, too, must be re­mem­bered and hon­oured.

We saw, of course, the sil­ver Cross mother at this year’s re­mem­brance day cer­e­monies, as we do every year, rep­re­sent­ing mothers who have lost chil­dren to war.

but we never see a sil­ver Cross Wife.

most peo­ple have no idea what it is like to lose a spouse in their young years, of­ten with a fam­ily to raise and hav­ing to ex­plain why mom or dad is not com­ing home.

but the real story is with the dayby-day and year-by-year ex­pe­ri­ences of these spouses who see a ser­vice mem­ber through an en­tire mil­i­tary ca­reer.

they start the life with op­ti­mism and en­thu­si­asm. un­like the mil­i­tary mem­ber, how­ever, there is no ba­sic train­ing for the spouses in their new life.

they are not told how to with­stand the long ab­sences.

they are not told how to re­act when they hear of death or dis­as­ter; how to tell the chil­dren why a par­ent can’t be there for their school grad­u­a­tion; how to un­der­stand what of­ten sound like inane or stupid or­ders from their spouse’s se­nior of­fi­cer; how to give birth with­out their spouse present; how to sup­port other mil­i­tary spouses when they need help; how to up­root their homes every cou­ple of years be­cause their spouse has just re­ceived a new post­ing.

and they don’t tell you that you will have to do this year af­ter year for as long as your spouse chooses to stay in a mil­i­tary ca­reer.

the re­ally amaz­ing thing is that so many mil­i­tary spouses deal with all that and more. they run the house­hold. they cook the meals. they man­age the bud­get. they pay the bills and do the shop­ping.

they get the kids off to school every morn­ing and to bed every night.

they don’t com­plain (much) when the big­gest snow­fall of the year ar­rives two days af­ter their sol­dier or sailor has de­ployed for the win­ter or for a year.

they get ev­ery­thing ready for the next move, then un­pack ev­ery­thing at the other end.

they at­tend the par­ent-teacher in­ter­views.

they keep the small, daily dis­as­ters a se­cret from their serv­ing spouse when that per­son is away.

they know ex­actly what to do when the fur­nace breaks down.

they do this all by them­selves be­cause you, the serv­ing mem­ber, are busy fight­ing ter­ror­ists or pi­rates or help­ing out in a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter; be­cause you are do­ing your job.

and for some of them, the day comes when they have to tend to your dam­aged body or mind.

or they have to ar­range to have you buried.

they de­serve our praise be­cause they al­low our sol­diers, sailors and air crews to pro­tect our coun­try.

so when you shake the hand of a per­son in mil­i­tary uni­form, give their spouse a big hug too.

here’s to mary and barb, Lynne and verna and Pat and mon­ica and bev and mar­lene and alice and sue and de­nee and John.

god bless them all, and so many more.

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