Have you ever planned a wedding from long-distance? Have you planned two? Within two months of each other? If you are in the military, your answer might be yes to the first question. But, for me, the answer was a definite yes to all three!
My twin daughters, Illinois Girl and Mrs. Tech Sergeant got engaged within a month of each other and married within two months of each other. It must be a twin thing. Illinois Girl lived in Illinois. Mrs. Tech Sergeant lived in Alaska. One wedding was in Oklahoma, where we lived. The other was in Illinois. Let the games begin.
Technically, Mrs. Tech Sergeant had two weddings. This is not unusual in the military. To be included on Tech Sergeant’s orders so they could get a house on base and Mrs. Tech Sergeant could get other benefits like medical coverage and commissary privileges, she and Tech Sergeant tied the knot in January 2010 in a small ceremony in Illinois. The Good Chaplain presided over this one but said there was no way he would perform the significant rituals of both girls.
While in Illinois for her first wedding, the girls and I went dress shopping. I remembered how much fun I had with my own wedding gown shopping trip, and I wanted the girls to experience the same excitement of finding the right dress. So, we shopped at one local store and a chain store.
Mrs. Tech Sergeant found her dress at the locally owned store. Illinois Girl initially saw the dress but decided against it. I cried when I saw Mrs. Tech Sergeant in it. She looked like a princess.
There was a mix-up in our appointment times at the chain store, and the clerk said they could only take one of the girls. After explaining, forcefully, to the manager that we had two appointments, we had a confirmation of both appointments, and two of the three of us were from out of town and could not come back, they accommodated us. Illinois Girl found her gown at the chain store.
Weddings can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. My niece’s bar tab was more costly than the girls’ entire weddings! We tried to talk the girls into a double wedding since both would be inviting most of the same people, but no dice. So, we put them on a budget. We gave each girl a set amount. If they stayed below that amount, they could keep the difference. If they went over, they paid.
Mr. and Mrs. Tech Sergeant opted for a military wedding, saber arch and all, at the Tinker Air Force Base Chapel in Oklahoma and hold their reception at the Officers’ Club, saving a boatload of money. They came to Oklahoma briefly to plan the catering menu, find a cake and a photographer. The rest we planned from Alaska and Oklahoma.
The biggest obstacle was her wedding gown, which was in Illinois. We had the dress shipped to Oklahoma, but then I had to find a tailor who could alter it in short order. Mrs. Tech Sergeant wasn’t coming into town until the wedding week, and the dress had a lot of beading. The tailor fit her in and promised the dress would be ready by Friday. Unfortunately, when we went Friday for the final fitting, it was too small. The tailor claimed Mrs. Tech Sergeant gained weight since the first fitting on Monday. She did not. We needed to get to the rehearsal and dinner, so the tailor promised to work on it and call us when it was ready, which happened during the rehearsal dinner.
The wedding was beautiful, and everything worked out, despite some tense moments, and Mr. and Mrs. Tech Sergeant are happily married 11 years later with two wonderful sons, three Siberian huskies, and two cats.
Next week, part two of the wedding summer.
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Chickenpox. It is a word that puts fear in the minds of all parents. They dreaded the thought of oatmeal baths and calamine lotion. And itchy, miserable kids. But, the parents also wanted to get it over with, so sometimes they would purposely expose their children to get it done. Today, many parents get to experience this because of the vaccine.
I was happy when Illinois Girl and Mrs. Tech Sergeant waited until the Good Chaplain came on active duty because I did not work outside the home. A year earlier, and it could have spelled disaster for us.
And thank God it happened at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, at a time when all the children in the neighborhood came down with chickenpox in a month. The epidemic perfectly portrayed what happens when military spouses step up to help each other out.
It started the day after I took a group of kids to the lake to see the geese. As we were walking home, one little girl stepped in a fire anthill. I quickly brushed off the ants and carried her to her house. The next day her mom called to say she had chickenpox. How do you get from fire ants to chickenpox? Clearly, they were separate incidents. The evening of the biting, the little girl was complaining that her stomach itched. Thinking maybe an ant had made it up that high, her mother lifted her shirt to find her covered in chickenpox. Her other two kids also came down with the pox soon afterward.
Kids started dropping like flies. We went a week before I noticed a spot on Mrs. Tech Sergeant’s chest and one on her back. Were they chickenpox? I waited a few days to see what would happen. No change. I called the neighborhood pediatrician, who came over. He couldn’t tell either but said if we gave her a warm bath, the blisters would probably come out if it was chickenpox. So I left the girls in the care of the Good Chaplain while I went with a neighbor on a hunt for oatmeal bath. When I returned, the rose was in full bloom.
For the next several days and nights, I stayed with my little blossom, making sure she didn’t scratch herself. We both felt stir-crazy. I called the doctor to ask if she could play outside. “Every neighborhood child is in a stage of chickenpox. As long as she isn’t running a fever, out she goes,” he said.
Unfortunately, she ran a fever on Halloween and couldn’t go trick-or-treating. If she’d felt well, she might have minded.
In the meantime, we mothers were near desperation with our itchy kids home from school for days on end. While our little ones napped or watched television, we would gather on porches to commiserate and cheer each other on. A nip of alcohol also might have occurred. Those whose children were further along in the epidemic assured the rest of us that it would be better soon. It was nice to talk to adults. And, of course, we ran errands for each other and kept everyone well stocked with oatmeal bath, passing along partially used boxes and buying more as needed.
As the epidemic wound down in the neighborhood, I realized Illinois Girl still hadn’t come down with them. Finally, both girls went to school on the first Monday in November, and that evening, sure enough, “Mommy, my stomach itches.” Here we go again. Illinois Girl’s case was twice as bad as her sister’s, but she recovered twice as fast. The following Monday, mothers in the neighborhood thanked God as all 20 children headed back to school.
We pulled together, helped one another, and made sure we each made it through with our sanity intact. That’s what we military spouses do.
Until next time,
My son-in-law, Tech Sergeant, deployed in July 2019 for the first time in ten years. He came home at the end of January 2020. While he was gone, Mrs. Tech Sergeant experienced a perfect example of Murphy’s Law.
You know Murphy’s Law. It states in part, “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong at the worst possible moment.” In the life of a military spouse, the worst possible moment(s) is during a deployment.
Just before leaving, the Tech Sergeants introduced two Siberian Husky puppies into their family. They are as cute as can be, but the added burden of two large dogs, on top of two kids and two cats, was a nightmare waiting to happen. The extra work was overwhelming at times for Mrs. Tech Sergeant. And then, her female cat came home pregnant, adding three cuddly kittens to the mix. I recently told Mrs. Tech Sergeant she enjoys chaos. She eventually found homes for two kittens, and this past summer, the mother cat was adopted by another family.
I worried about Mrs. Tech Sergeant when things began breaking around the house. And we are not talking about the small stuff. It was one thing after another. First, the dogs thoroughly chewed up the living room carpet. Then, a part of the basement ceiling fell, and there was a leak in the master bedroom closet ceiling, resulting in roof repairs. Between the stress of work, educating the boys during COVID, and the home repairs, I was concerned about her mental health.
The most significant breakdown happened while the Good Chaplain and I were visiting for the Christmas holidays. The furnace quit working. In January. In a mid-Atlantic state. The home warranty company sent someone out to look at it around day 5. That gentleman flipped the switch, the furnace came on, and he called it good. Unfortunately, it only stayed on for a few minutes at a time, so the Good Chaplain requested the man check it in a few minutes. Sure enough, it stopped working, and the man finally found the problem. Unfortunately, it only stayed on for a few minutes at a time, so the Good Chaplain requested the man check it in a few minutes. Sure enough, it stopped working, and the man finally found the problem.
He reported the problem to his employer, who reported it to the home warranty company. Then, nothing. After a few days, Mrs. Tech Sergeant called the service company, and they said they were waiting for the part to come in. After another few days, the Good Chaplain pretended to be Tech Sergeant and called the home warranty company. Again, they said they were waiting on a report from the service people. Eventually, Mrs. Tech Sergeant decided to get a whole new furnace.
In the meantime, Tech Sergeant returned home, and he took over the details of the new furnace. Unfortunately, it didn’t arrive when expected because a massive snowstorm socked in the East Coast. But, of course, that is the time when they needed their furnace. It finally arrived a MONTH from when the old one broke down, during the coldest time of year.
Since then, life has settled down for them, other than a few quarantines for COVID scares. (All tests were negative.) They are back down to two cats and two kids, but they just added another Husky puppy to the family. Chaos
Until next time,