As homecoming day approaches the excitement mounts and tension I did not even realize was there becomes palatable. It’s funny; you’d think I would be way past that with as many times as I have been through this. But still I feel as anxious as a school girl building up for the first prom. Maybe even more so as that was just a date, this is my husband, the love of my life, returning home to me once again. Okay, I know that may sound a little sappy but after nearly thirty one years of marriage I think I have earned sappy!
The excitement building up to homecoming has me reminiscing about some of the homecomings of the past. The first one I ever experienced was back in 1981 when Don was stationed onboard the USS Nassau. We were newly married and the ship had only been out a short time but it was still exciting as it was the first time I had ever experienced anything like it. All I really recall about that day was glancing out through a sea of white uniforms in search of my red headed sailor. That and the fact that one of the boatswains mate got a wee bit overzealous when casting the line, and put a huge rope through the windshield of a nearby car. Come to think of it I guess it was a homecoming to remember for both of them as well.
On yet another ship, the USS Nicholas, we were faced with multiple deployments which led to many homecomings but one homecoming in particular stands out in my mind. The guys (they were all guys back then) were all given a single rose to hand to their loved one when they reunited for the first time. The plan was to follow protocol whereas the captain’s wife boarded first then the XO’s wife and so on in order. Well the ship happened to pull in alongside another ship and so we had to board via the hosting ship. So here we all were milling about the deck of the hosting ship waiting to begin boarding our ship when out of the blue my husband catches my eye, climbs up on the nearby railing, stretched out as far as he could and handed me my rose. If looks could kill I would not be writing this blog this week as the captain’s wife shot daggers from her eyes at me. She could not believe the audacity of his actions thus stealing the honor of her receiving the first rose. Looking back I guess it was a reckless move on my husband’s part but that day I felt as if I was given the greatest gift of all. Not only had my husband returned but he had risked much (life, limb, and career) in handing me that single rose.
I would say without a doubt that deployment was worse for me when our kids were young. While married, for six months increments, I was very much leading the life of a single mom, making all decisions and holding the household together until my husband’s return. Now, with the kids grown, it is just me and the dog and he is so much easier to deal with than having three children who were very close in age running around the house. Now I think the biggest adjustment I will have to make when he returns is planning meals and making sure dinner is not redundant. I say that because I personally have no problem fixing dinner and eating its leftovers for days on end. I also confess that when it is just me, cottage cheese for dinner does not sound all that wrong. Besides cottage cheese is much healthier than when I used to open a can of corn, add a whole stick of butter and call it a meal!
I also think I have also gotten past the need to fill up the loneliness with animals. We have a dog, a very good dog and I am content with just him in my life while my husband is away. I think in the past my husband was always a bit hesitant to walk through the door because he never knew what new creature or thing would great him. Would it be a cat, several cats, a new dog, rabbit, fish, a waterbed? I mean when a woman is stressed god knows where that will lead! This time he is only coming home to me. Oh and the company that we are having for the first couple of days, which is a first for me as well.
I think that everyone has the fear of homecoming. Knowing that their spouse or loved one has been gone for half a year and that both of you have changed during that time. I think one change that I always saw in me was that my husband’s absence made me a more confident person, as I had to do things that I would have normally left for him. I may not have always made the correct decision but the bottom line is I did make one. Now days with e-mail it is a lot easier, as with the exception of e-mail blackout periods I know the answer is only an e-mail away. In the “olden days of snail mail” a response could be weeks or months away, meaning the problem was usually long resolved when “help” arrived. I am not saying the old way was better or worse, just different and believe you me I much prefer my husband being “just an e-mail away” as sometimes I don’t want to be the one who has to make all of the decisions.
I have seen quite a few posts from other spouses concerned about homecoming and cleaning and cleaning some more. I have to admit I have fallen into the trap yet again this cruise. In my case I am not cleaning for my husband but for the family that is due to arrive the night before. Because I know my husband and, while he appreciates the work I do in maintaining things while he is away, the only thing he will be concerned about on homecoming day is wrapping his arms around me. That and getting to eat something besides chicken for dinner!
Another thing that is easier these days is the fact that I can actually find my hubby on homecoming day. In the early years we went onto the ship so it was just a matter of my husband watching for me went I walked onboard. Then, when security tightened, the families had to wait on the pier. It was crazy standing there searching face after face as for the most part they were all dressed alike. Now days in the realm of modern technology it is much simpler as most of us are just a cell phone call away. Hey love, I am over here by the blue port-o-potty, third one down next to the refreshment tent.
My husband and I have had numerous separations and homecomings over the years and I know this will not be the last. While the tension and worries lessen with each deployment the excitement always returns as homecoming nears. Whether it is time for my husband to return to me or I am just watching the news and seeing Military service members reunited time and time again, one thing is for sure, for me, homecomings never get old. This blog is being posted a day early this week because this time tomorrow I will be spending time with my hubby