The Greatest Generation

Originally published in June 2009 issue of Military Spouse Magazine

My future husband and I had only been dating for six months when he got orders to the West Coast. We wanted to be together so, we told our families and eloped the next weekend. Instantly I was apart of an entirely new military culture and had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Immediately after the “I do” Jon started telling me what I needed to take care of before our PCS in three months (what did that mean?) He also started referring to me as his dependant (hello: it’s the new millennium, I am no one’s dependent!). On top of not knowing what he was talking about, he informed me I needed to get my military id, change my name, and sign up for Tricare. I was a little lost but did not want to give the impression I could not hack this new lifestyle.  I kept my mouth shut and smiled sweetly like the blushing bride I was.  After our one day honeymoon I waved goodbye to my new hubby as he drove back to Quantico where he was currently stationed  (three states away.)  I needed some serious advice and guidance, and I needed it now!  I was not near a military base and my new husband was going to be off running around in the woods right up until we moved.  It seemed I was really on my own with this one. I then realized the perfect person to help prepare me for my new role as a Military Wife Extraudinair.

Grandma Ruby, my mother’s mother, had been a military wife for over twenty-five years. The similarities between Grandma and I don’t stop with our attraction for men in uniform. We both are pretty much sassy, outspoken, and strive to be the center of attention. My husband jokes that I learned the art of manipulation from her. I have to admit it has been a handy skill especial when you are married to a bull headed grunt. She met her husband at an oyster roast, and I met mine at a fish fry. She “eloped” herself with my grandfather as he geared up years ago to deploy to WWII with the “Army Air Corps”(it was not even the Air Force back then). In her long career of being a military wife she had lived all over the world and had seven children all while Granddad served in WWII and Korea.  Although I knew nothing about the military I had grown up seeing Granddaddy’s old military pictures and memento’s.  Their entire home had collectibles from all points of the globe, and I remember laughing at my Grandma’s old ball pictures because in all of them she was pregnant.  I decided to make a special pilgrimage to see her.

During my weekly trips my relationship with grandma grew stronger as she helped guide me through the beginning steps of being a military wife. She rode with me to get my military id, and explained the importance of being assertive when it comes to dealing with Tricare healthcare. She said, “Mollie, don’t be fooled, they don’t really try and they don’t really care.” I believe I get my flair for the dramatics from her as well. She recalled a story to me when she had to get firm with an on base hospital.

She was living in Germany and had four children at the time. She was suffering from an earache, and called my Granddad to watch the kids during lunch so she could go to the doctor. He came home and they made the swap. Grandma only had a short time to get to the doctor’s and back. Once there she informed the clerk at the desk that she was there to be seen for an earache to which he replied, “I am sorry Ms. Ruby, but the doctor only sees pregnant women today.” To that she retorted, “Well if that is the case, I’ll be happy to run home and get pregnant real quick, but I would prefer we skip it and just get my ear looked at now thank you.” Thank goodness the doctor overheard the commotion and was very familiar with my grandma and all her children. He agreed to see her right away.

The few months that Jon and I were married but living apart were a difficult time, but I really treasured the weekends I spent with my Grandma. I will always treasure my special talks with her. I think she enjoyed reliving her military life memories with me as well. In the coming years, I reached out to her many times when Jon was deployed. She was my rock as she had gone through many deployments with Granddad. My grandma has over twenty- six grandchildren, and with a family that big, it can be hard to get face time with anyone. I will always consider myself blessed to have such a unique relationship with such a wonderful lady. I learned we shared so much more than just our common sassy nature, we also shared strength.