Back in late January of this year, just after Richard had deployed, I ran across a contest being held by our local paper. It was entitled, “This I Love…” asking for pictures and a short little story about what we love. I posted a pic of Richard sleeping on the beach in Myrtle Beach South Carolina. I wrote a little blurb: “This I love because it is a photo of my brave Sailor doing what he loves – sleeping on the sand at the beach. This was taken on our most recent family vacation to Myrtle Beach. We are praying for his safe return to us as he is now deployed to Afghanistan.” It went something like that.
Also around that time a woman by the name of Pat posted a picture to the contest of her husband Bud which was taken while he was deployed to Vietnam during that conflict back in 1969. Her story was about her life as a military wife and how proud she had been to be an Army wife. She then proceeded to scan through the other postings and came across my picture of Richard. It took her breath away and she picked up the phone and called the “Times-Union.”
About two weeks after I posted my picture of Richard I started getting these e-mails from a couple of individuals at the paper. Apparently some woman who had been a military wife as well wanted to get in touch with me. Well, I’ve met enough military wives to know that there are many of them I really don’t wish to get in touch with, and being the skeptic that I can often be, I ignored their requests. Finally I got an e-mail from one gentleman at the paper who explained to me what was going on.
Apparently, this lady Pat had been an Army Wife for over 20 years and she had a picture of her husband Bud taken on the same beach in 1969 that bore an uncanny resemblance to my picture of Richard. (Click Link above to see Bud’s picture.) He asked if he could share my e-mail address with Pat. Intrigued I said, “Sure.” What’s the harm in an e-mail? Especially considering all the spam I get on a regular basis.
That same day I got an e-mail from Pat, but being the skeptic, I didn’t answer. On the third e-mail she imbedded the picture taken so many years ago of her husband Bud. It was astounding. I picked up the phone and gave her a call. She was so lovely on the phone and I was completely charmed. I suddenly regretted my cynical nature.
I’ll give this to Pat. She was tenacious. She had spent the better part of a month trying to get in touch with me. It was now towards the end of February. She tentatively invited the boys and I for Easter Dinner. I said I would need to discuss it with the boys and I would get back to her. After I got off the phone I told the boys the story and showed them the two pictures. They immediately said, “Wow, that’s weird. Yeah, let’s go.” They wanted to meet these people who seemed so much like their parents.
Easter was an amazing day. I had coached my boys well on the appropriate way to meet and greet new people, and appropriate new place behaviors. They shook hands all around like gentlemen saying, “Hi, I’m Adam” or “I’m Sean, nice to meet you.“ They impressed Bud by playing nicely and quietly with his grandsons. Then when we left, they shook hands saying, “Thank you, we had a great time.“ I was so proud, and we did have a great time.
The company and the food could not have been better. Pat had also invited her daughter Heidi who has two boys as well, one just older and one just younger than my two. The boys had a great time together and I really liked Heidi, as well as Pat and Bud. There was no problem finding things to talk about and the conversation flowed effortlessly. I was proud of myself as well. I had made some new friends without the help of my gregarious husband. It was a good day.
Since that time Pat and I have kept in touch. We have exchanged e-mails and some phone calls. I friended her daughter, Heidi, and her grandson, Robert, on FaceBook. All of us our making plans to do something together once school lets out. She has been a great sounding board for those deployment blues, especially since I broke my leg.
Recently Pat e-mailed me to find out if I would be interested in doing an interview with a reporter from the paper. They were interested in doing a follow-up piece regarding how we met and the similarities in our lives as military wives. I agreed immediately and we met a few days ago at my house with the reporter and a photographer. We didn’t know if the article would be published or not, but the piece came out today and a link is posted above.
I have a hard copy of the article, one of the boys teachers sent it home with them, to put in a scrapbook at some point in time, for which I am glad. Mostly though I am so thankful to have met Pat. This 80 year old woman is one of the coolest, hippest people I have met in a long time. Her life and her stories are an inspiration to me. I am truly blessed to have her in my life.