Pas­sion crosses oceans, bat­tle­fields

The Covington News - - Health & wellness - Jenny Thompson jtomp­son@cov­news.com

Some­where across the dusty ter­rain of Iraq, a sol­dier pre­pares his bunk for rest. He opens a plas­tic bag and pulls out a black satin pil­low drenched in per­fume. Now he can sleep with the essence of his beau­ti­ful bride.

A lit­tle black satin pil­low is how Cor­po­ral Jose Resto kept the “spirit” of his wife Eddy with him on an 18-month tour of duty in Iraq with Cov­ing­ton-based Army Na­tional Guard B Com­pany 1121 In­fantry Di­vi­sion.

Shortly af­ter Jose and Eddy were mar­ried in July 2004 he had to re­port for six months of train­ing be­fore his de­ploy­ment.

“I was not very easy hon­estly,” Eddy said. “I thought, we have just got­ten mar­ried and we have to put aside all of our plans.”

None of her fam­ily had ever served in the armed forces, so it was hard for her to un­der­stand why he had to leave — es­pe­cially why he had to close his long­dreamed-of me­chanic shop.

He did his best to ex­plain to her that no one was forc­ing him to go; it was some­thing he wanted to do for his coun­try.

Once peo­ple be­gan to thank Eddy for her hus­band’s ser­vice and her sac­ri­fice, she be­came proud and be­gan to un­der­stand why he and so many oth­ers chose to fight.

“As a wife, it’s my duty to sup­port him,” Eddy said. Love at first pump

When Jose pulled into gas sta­tion in Jones­boro to fill up in 1995, he never ex­pected to meet the wo­man he was go­ing to marry.

Eddy had a slow air leak in one of her back tires and pulled in the same sta­tion.

Jose was in­trigued by the tiny, bronze wo­man who emerged from the huge van and went over to see if he could of­fer any as­sis­tance.

“I fell in love with the ac­cent,” Jose said of Eddy’s Hon­duran di­alect.

Both felt like they knew each other from some­where.

“His eyes were shiny and they lit up when he saw me,” Eddy said. “I said to my­self ‘if he fol­lows me, he’s mine.’”

Jose of­fered to bring her a new tire if she would give him her num­ber and ad­dress. She agreed to the sly trick.

Speed­ing home, Jose grabbed any tire — if the tire didn’t fit it gave him an ex­cuse to meet with her again.

All of Jose and Eddy’s friends and fam­ily, even the own­ers of the store, know the story of the gas sta­tion.

Their wed­ding party even met at the same sta­tion to car­a­van to the base where they had a mil­i­tary style cer­e­mony. Over there

The night be­fore Jose was de­ployed, he asked Eddy to sleep in his T-shirt. The next morn­ing he neatly folded the shirt and stuffed it into a plas­tic bag.

Af­ter a while the shirt no longer smelled like his wife, so she sent him a black satin pil­low soaked in his fa­vorite of her per­fumes.

Eddy also sent lit­tle items to him such as a backscratcher with a note read­ing “do you need a help­ing hand?” and spices and canned foods for the chef-side of her solider.

“It got to where any time I got a pack­age, the boys would say ‘what did we get,’” Jose said.

Eddy said it was im­por­tant to send him small things to let him know he was missed back home and help him to re­mem­ber what he was fight­ing to pro­tect.

Jose told Eddy about the shirt dur­ing one of the many on­line chats they had ev­ery­day. He pur­chased a satel­lite and two We­b­cams so they could see each other even though he was an ocean away. The equip­ment was ex­pen­sive, but both said it was money well spent.

“At the end of ev­ery pa­trol, I would tell her to get on­line and we would chat for hours, ev­ery­day,” Jose said. “As long as I got to see her ev­ery­day, it made it eas­ier.”

Be­ing gone for a year and a half, Jose did miss some very im­por­tant times.

“I spent my first an­niver­sary in Iraq,” Jose said.

His best man served in the same unit, so he and Jose ate a less-thanro­man­tic meal in the chow hall that night.

He also missed the birth of his first grand­child but still pur­chased her crib and some other gifts for her on­line.

Eddy did her best to gather friends and fam­ily once a week to sit in front of the cam­era and chat with Jose.

On Mother’s Day she se­cretly in­stalled a We­b­cam on her mother-in-law’s com­puter.

“I said ‘mom, mom come in here, there’s some­thing wrong with your com­puter,’” Eddy said. “She came in and saw his face and fainted.”

It’s a mo­ment that hap­pened while Jose was thou­sands of miles away, but that he and his fam­ily share be­cause of the In­ter­net. A sol­dier’s wife

Sol­diers’ wives have the dif­fi­cult task of man­ag­ing the home with­out the help of their hus­bands when they are on ac­tive duty.

Eddy never men­tioned lit­tle prob­lems on any of their chats be­cause she said he needed to fo­cus on his mis­sion. She didn’t even tell him when his pit bull was stolen out of their back­yard.

One day he asked to see E.J. — named for their ini­tials—so she had to tell him.

Be­cause he seemed so up­set, she pur­chased two fe­male Chi­huahua and dachs­hund mixes and waited for him to come home to name them.

Missy and Min­nie love their daddy.

The wor­ry­ing is the worst part ac­cord­ing to Eddy.

“I was a slave to the news,” Eddy said.

One morn­ing a friend called her and said Jose was on the front page of the “At­lanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion.”

With­out wait­ing for an ex­pla­na­tion, she raced to the near­est con­ve­nience store to grab a copy. An embed­ded re­porter had doc­u­mented Jose’s pa­trol unit com­ing un­der en­emy fire.

She called him on an emer­gency cell phone, and he as­sured her he was un­harmed. Still, she said it was hard to switch from pan­ic­mode back into a nor­mal at­ti­tude and go about her day as usual. Back home

Eddy said as ex­cited as wives are to have hus­bands back home, they should al­low them to re­sume their house­hold du­ties as well as show af­fec­tion in a grad­ual man­ner.

“They have not just been camp­ing, on a pic­nic,” Eddy said. “They have been in a war zone.”

She said as much as wives want to un­load, nor­malcy must be at­tained slowly.

“I al­ways say it takes a very spe­cial wo­man to be a sol­dier’s wife,” Jose said. “In my opin­ion, they de­serve a medal.”

Both Eddy and Jose have be­come in­volved in Op­er­a­tion Sand­box, a greater metro At­lanta or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to send­ing care pack­ages to sol­diers over­seas.

“It’s very im­por­tant for ev­ery sol­dier to feel like they are missed back home,” Jose said.

He said help­ing with Op­er­a­tion Sand­box ac­tiv­i­ties is his way of giv­ing back the thought­ful­ness he re­ceived while in Iraq.

Eddy is work­ing to keep all the wives in the unit in touch even while their hus­bands are at home, cre­at­ing a strong sup­port net­work for when they ship out again.

B Com­pany is due to re­de­ploy on a year-long tour in Afghanistan in 2009.

Jose and Eddy know they have what it takes keep the ro­mance thriv­ing and their re­la­tion­ship strong.

They en­cour­aged sol­diers who may not be able to af­ford the satel­lite sys­tem they used to stay in touch, to write ev­ery­day or call their loved ones reg­u­larly. How­ever, they said the ad­vice doesn’t only ap­ply to mil­i­tary fam­i­lies.

“Ev­ery­body that’s mar­ried should see to it that they keep com­mu­ni­ca­tion open to keep their re­la­tion­ship alive,” Jose said.

Mandi Singer

Last­ing love: Jose and Eddy Resto gaze into each oth­ers eyes as they spend time to­gether at the Cov­ing­ton Ar­mory.

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