It began with a letter, you know – the old fashioned kind, paper and pen, that opened with “You don’t know me but we have a mutual friend…”

From there it grew – a whirlwind relationship with precious moments snatched between squadron dets, workups and deployments.  We found the end of one path and the start of a new one on a humid Virginia Beach evening in August, twenty-six years ago.  That evening I married my best possible friend and love of my life.

Life didn’t give us much pause as we ended up on another coast shortly thereafter (a new experience for her as she had never been West of the Blue Ridge).  We were faithful to the biblical dictum of being fruitful and multiplying with the birth of our first son not long after our first anniversary – on that distant coast.

And again, it was off to sea all to soon…and as she had done before, once again she stood on the tarmac, at the hangar’s edge watching the aircraft disappear and wondering, hoping – praying that her beloved would return whole and alive all those months hence. Again and again the scene wold be repeated, the seasons changed and the family grew.  Soon she was ‘The CO’s Wife’ and thrust into an ex-officio position, not mandated (at least formally) by big Navy, she nonetheless found herself watching the departures once again, only this time she was the POC, the confidant, the font of wisdom and knowledge for a host of young spouses – she was their advocate and with the ombudsman, whom she developed a fast friendship, was the “go to” person for “the word.”  The holidays alone, the meals with the kids and the empty chair at the head of the table, all reminders of his absence and aching heart – and now she also shared all this with those who were experiencing it for the first time because she thought of them as family.

And she endured.

Of course there were the reunions to look forward to – when the specks in the distance expanded and grew into the oh-so familiar shape of the mechanical steed that kept whisking her beloved away and even now, in this one bright, joyous moment, lurked in the background – an ever present reminder that duty would call once again and soon, oh so very soon, and he would be gone.

It really didn’t make that much of a difference when he went off to be ship’s company.  Now it was to the crowded pier as she drove to drop him off the night before the great ship got underway, for he wasn’t one of the lucky ones who got to linger on the pier until it was final call.  And so in the dark at the foot of the brow, with the hustle and flow of the night before deployment all around them, they managed to find a few moments of peace, a quiet understanding passing between them as he left to climb the brow to his position so many stories above.

And as she watched him go, she wondered if she would see him again and uttered a silent prayer.

The years passed, and as his career changed directions, the planes and ships that snatched him away receded into the past and with it, her worries of not seeing him again did too – until one terrible fall morning when for a moment in time she was united with thousands of others who were suddenly confronted by mere mortality.  Later, very much later when he final got through to tell her he was OK, only then was she relieved, but it passed in a flash as he related all those from his office who hadn’t.

But she endured.

Through twenty-six years of late or missed dinners, weekend and holiday duties, deployments and dets too many to count.  All that time when he was gone and she was left to deal with the inevitable car/washing machine/homework “issues” while he was gone – she endured.

The challenges were many and at times seemed insurmountable – but together, with her at his side and he at hers, they both endured and forged in the fires of adversity and challenge, their love for one another grew.  And when she found herself sitting with him in the neurosurgeon’s office, trying to make sense of how a follow-up appointment was suddenly turning into short notice surgery with all the attendant risks, she was unwavering in support and love then and afterwards in recovery.


And so, on this our twenty-sixth year of marriage, I pause to give thanks to the Lord for the blessings He has made manifest in my life – chief of which was bringing you into it.

Happy Anniversary sweetheart – I love you like no other.  ‘Twas ever so and will always be…

P.S.  Hope you liked the flowers 😉

-UPDATE-

…She did… 😀

18 Comments

  1. Marv

    Congratulations to you and your better half.
    Best wishes for a second 26.

  2. JKN

    Congratulations to you both.

  3. claudio

    Congratulations to you and the Missus!!!

    In this business that we have chosen it has become rare to see a marriage last 5 years let alone 26.

    Congrats again

  4. Tom

    Beautiful tribute to your wife and to marriage in general.

    BZ!

    Tom

  5. Surfcaster

    Congratulations to the SJS family!

  6. Congrats SJS and Mrs. SJS!

    Ain’t them Navy Wives GREAT! I was raised (hell still am in many ways) by a great NAVAIR Mom and Dad! I know your toils well!

    BZ on 26! Here’s to another! Cheers!

    -JC

  7. Eagle1

    Congrats! May the next 26 be good to you both!

  8. Congrats Skipper. Here to 26 more!!! Me and mine just had our 23rd!!!

    The Last Steeljaw Chief!!!

  9. Ed T

    Congrats to both of you on #26, and may you have at least 26 more. Behind every sucessful man there is a strong woman and doubly so when the man is career military!

    Ed
    (coming up on 23 here)

  10. BZ…thanks for sticking to the commitment as an example to tohers who think it’s too hard.

  11. FbL

    Awww… Beautiful tribute. You’re a lucky man, and she a lucky woman. Congratulations for what you have built together.

  12. Congrats, SJS! As the others said: wonderful tribute. And great pics, too!

  13. Guy

    SJS,
    What a great tribute to a great Navy wife. Happy anniversary!

  14. You did not tell me it was your anniversary.

    Happy Belated greetings of the day.

  15. Not only are you a good guy with a great wife, but you are a pretty good writer too! You have given me something to pass along to my wife to read… hmmm. on the other hand, she might conclude that I am not as thoughtful as you.

    My wife played the same role, but my suit was a different color blue and the “surface fleet” was a mountain top far away.

    We both enjoyed being “with troops.’ That is perhaps the greatest reward. Certainly much more so than 8 years in the hallways of the Pentagon!

    Great job and best wishes!

  16. :mrgreen: Congrats on you 26 wedding anaversary.
    I had a mutual friend that introduced me to my wife as well. we meet in sept 1979, I fell head over heels for her. and on march 1 1980 we became one. and have so to this verry day!

  17. SJS,

    That was awesome!

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