Wednesday, October 14, 2009

So...picking up where I left off....
I knew I would marry this wonderfully amazing man...and in the year that followed, I received 25 letters from him. At that time, there was no e mail, or texting in the Navy. I was a single mom of this beautiful little girl, and I was having a rough time in my life. He was getting me through some of my toughest struggles. Eventually, we came to the conclusion that we would marry someday, in the future, and had talked about it alot. The thing was that God had a different plan for us.
When my baby girl was a year old, Dennis brought me, my baby girl, and his mom out to WA state where he was stationed. That is where the real story begins.
I was so nervous. I wasn't just nervous, I was scared. I had just turned 22, and wasn't sure where my life was going. I had signed up to go to nursing school, had been accepted, and finally had an idea that my life was going to head down that path.
Needless to say, on the second to last day there, we went to a place called Bouchard Gardens in Victoria, Canada.
To say that this place was beautiful is a COMPLETE understatement (I will post pics). It set the mood for romance, and love and I felt whole for the first time in a really long time.

We came back from that trip, we talked, we laughed, and this is where our life began...along with another little life much to my surprise not too long after LOL
I found out I was pregnant.

I didn't tell him right away. I left and went to NC with my very good friend, Betsy, to visit her family (anyone remember the Wheatley's?) And there, I had to decide my lifes choice.
I had to let Dennis decide with me..
THAT conversation went something like this...
Hey baby, how are you?
Long day he says...worked 18 hours. On a good note, went and found a truck, and I am getting out and coming home...
*cue the drop of the heart into the stomach on my part*
I said, are you sitting down?
He says...yeah....
I said I am pregnant.
His response?
Well, the pregnancy test says otherwise..

It wasn't what we planned, it wasn't what we expected, but here was this life altering decision to be made, and it had to be made soon.
I asked him if he was ok...of course he wasn't.....and neither was I.
I gave him three days to think about what he wanted to do. I told him to call me back and we would talk some more.

My beautiful husband didn't wait three days...he didn't even wait three HOURS....
He called me back...and this is what followed...

I have loved you for as long as I can remember. I always knew that I would marry you (and so did many other people although we laughed it off at the time) so, let's do this. Let's get married....
Nerves, excitement, fear, happiness, love...all of those emotions at once is a LOT for a girl to handle....but three weeks later, we were married. In front of our family, and our friends.
The day we got married, his brother graduated from high school. His family went to the graduation, and instead of a party for his brother afterwards, we were married in a little restaraunt on Lakeshore drive...
Our daughter was my miniature bride. All of our little cousins wore Navy style dresses and outfits...
I was SO nervous...we sat in the limo, me and my bridesmaids (my sister and sister in law) and I was SO nervous that I told the limo driver to just go around the block...
I kept saying to Bethany...I can't believe I am marrying your brother! I can't believe that I am marrying Dennis Parker!! LOL
Needless to say, no wedding goes off without some sort of hitch...and the music started for my bridesmaids and I to walk down the aisle....but WE WEREN'T there!!! Because my nerves got the best of me!!!.
His dad leaned over and told him he was off the hook! LOL

We got back, and everything went nerves were shot, my best friend and father walked me down the aisle in the beautiful wedding gown that my mother had found for me before I ever got back from NC and my dad leans over and whispers this term of endearment in my ear...."just remember, pink elephants!"

Our wedding was put together in THREE weeks time.
We said our vows, we were introduced as husband and wife, and that was the story of our beginning.....
That night, I sang Where've you Been? by Kathy Mattea to him....see previous I sat on his lap. I could not look my husband in the eye because I knew if I did, I would surely burst into tears, and that is not what I wanted to do. I wanted him to know how very very much I loved him....and apparently, everyone else knew it too because there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
We all danced, and we all laughed, and ate, and a beautiful beginning was had that night.

When we left our wedding, we went to our hotel room. I removed the 128 bobby pins from my hair...looking like a wild woman...LOL And he removed the 32 pins that were down my back because even though I had been fitted just a week before for the dress, my nerves had gotten the best of me, and I had lost MORE weight before my wedding day....and we didn't have your typical "wedding night". We were EXHAUSTED.....

And I need to back track a minute because there is something that I did not add here...
Dennis was still stationed in WA state....he flew in the day before our wedding.
I went to the airport to get him, and as I am standing there, looking for this man and not finding him very heart started to pound. I thought for sure he had changed his mind...that somehow he suddenly didn't want me like that anymore....
And then a perfect stranger walked up and handed me a rose...
And then another stranger with another rose....until I finally had six people hand me roses, and there was my soon to be husband.....
He slipped my engagement ring on my hand...and my heart was filled with so much love and happiness...

Going back to the wedding night....we fell asleep next to each other....what we would do for years to come, God willing he wasn't pulled out on deployment....
The next morning, we went to my mom and dad's house to have breakfast, and although it was a happy was sad too.

I had lived in Upstate NY my entire life. I had never left, other than to go to CT to visit family, and that had been when I was younger...

I was no longer just Hootie's mommy, I was now Dennis's wife...and he was now my husband and Hootie's daddy....(he gave her the most beautiful necklace on our wedding day....a heart with an angel on it engraved with the angeline love, daddy. And we still have it )

And in being Dennis's wife, I had an even bigger responsibility than I could ever had imagined.
I didn't just marry Dennis Parker, I had married the United States Navy.

We were home in NY for about two more weeks after that....and as the day of leaving approached, the sadness grew...
The night before we left, it was a night filled with tears and sadness.
I saw my dad cry for the first time in my life. Not just a few little tears. This was my daddy crying because his first born daughter was leaving. Not just to move down the road, but to move THREE THOUSAND miles away.
We weren't old pros at goodbye. My family is where I began....and now I had a new life, and a new family to begin with all over again. Tears flowed, memories were talked about, we laughed...and everyone tried to avoid what we knew was coming the next morning.

The day we left. It was the hardest day of my life.
Angeline did NOT understand what was going on. I don't even think that I fully understood it. I know I didn't. These people that loved me, through thick and thin, better and worse, sickness and health, took care of me and rallied around me when no one else would.......they wouldn't be there every day like that had been for 22 years. THAT scared the HELL out of me.

We left. We said our goodbyes, and halfway up the road, we realized that Angeline had forgotten "B"...her blanket that she had with her at all times since birth....She was SO quiet..SO confused...and even at one and a half, sad. We turned right around and went back and got it.
My mom came out holding it, brother couldn't even come out to say good bye. He stayed in his room...He is the one that nicknamed her hootie after all.
My sister had left, and my dad was very very quiet.

Having to leave a SECOND time, I can't say that it was any easier..

We drove that LONG drive back to WA state...HOURS in the car. Morning sickness hitting me left and right, and I was thirsty, then I had to pee because when I was thirsty I wanted that big gulp. Dennis and I had our first arguement in the car....LOL
We got to WA state, and we lived in an apartment with another couple. They had their side, we had ours. It wasn't long though before we had our own place....
A three bedroom apartment. On the very top. With no friends, and no family. It was a very very lonely place to be.
Dennis and I, we loved each other, but we didn't have your typical courtship...we were a ready made family, and in January of that year, we welcomed our little Stinkerbelle...
There were no grandparents, aunts or uncles there, just Dennis, angeline, myself and our new baby girl...we announced her arrival through long distant phone calls, and after hanging up, a lot of tears followed.

We brought our baby girl home....22 year old parents, and a newborn and her 3 year old sister...
I was SO sad.
I wanted my mom.
I wanted my dad.
I wanted my sister.
I wanted my brother.
I wanted my grandpa, and my aunt and cousins.....
But I had to pull up my big girl panties, and I had to make the best out of what we had.

My new in laws came to visit the week after danielle was born. My father in law (who I am now very close to) brought me a beautiful necklace with a heart shaped locket on it ....I still have that too.
When they left, I cried for a week straight.
My sister, and mom and brother came when she was about a month old..I hadn't seen them since July...and it was January. It was the longest I had gone without seeing my family.
It was whirlwind. The time flew with both visits, and I didn't want them to go. I wanted to tear up their plane and train tickets and just keep them there with me....but they had their own lives to get back to, and I had mine.

When everyone had come and gone, Dennis's ship had decided to be moved about two hours away from where we lived. Which meant that Dennis was only home from Friday night until Sunday morning....I was on my own.

Then, one day, I get this knock on the door.
The woman that lived three floors below me had come, thinking that she had gotten some of my mail. She introduced herself to me, stacey Deyo. Congratulated me on the baby, and told me if I needed anything, anything at all, she was right there.

I just want the whole world to know that THAT woman....SHE was my saving grace 13 years ago. If it were not for her, I would have lost my mind. She was the first Navy wife I had ever met, and we were inseperable from there on out....I found out later that the supposed piece of mail that she thought was mine....yes, it was actually hers!! LOL
We did everything together....talked, laughed, drank, hung out with the kids, ate dinners together...we were the best of friends....and to this day, I still have her in my life. Not the way that I would like...she is in Michigan, and I am here, but I love her as much as I did back then, and I am forever indebted to her for saving me the way she did....and I hope she knows that.

We moved from WA state about nine months after moving TO WA state.
This time, it was a journey to Fallon, NV.....
And that, my dear friends, is where another story begins....
But, before I end this one....I want to say something.

I never knew what it was like to be on my own. I have a family that loves me, supports me, guides me, and makes me believe in myself, even when I don't. We have our ups and downs, our ins and outs, but they are there when it counts, and that is all that matters.
I have had it said to me more than once in the past 13 years that I knew what I was getting into when I married Dennis...with him being in the military.
I had NO IDEA.
My husband is a good man. He believes in what he does for our country. And our lives together have been altered because of this life that we lead, more than an average marriage would.
We are STRONGER. We are BETTER. Our LOVE is unbreakable.
Our FAMILY is our everything....and we believe that everything that we have done, everything that we are doing is for the good of our family....
People out there that don't support the military families, or even people that DO and just don't get what we go through, they are the reasons that I am sharing this.
I want people to know what this life is like. What they have to be thankful for...and even though they may not believe in what is happening, our husbands, wives, children and loved ones...they are the ones caught in the crossfires of one man's decision (the President) because they believed in a higher purpose....
I am PROUD to be a Miltary Wife. I am PROUD of my United States Chief. I am PROUD to know not just people in the USN, but all of the other branches of our military as well....
And, I am comforted in the fact that I know, as I tell these stories for my own personal reason, that I am not alone....and that I never really was.

My good friend Amber, from back in the day read my previous entry to this blog. She had to go digging because she found this, and she is the one that took it.

Dennis entered boot camp back in July of 92, this pic was taken in August of 92....we were married in June of 96....and time marches on.....

Monday, October 12, 2009

In the beginning....

I moved to Mexico, NY my 7th grade year....1985.
So long ago it seems, but that was the year that I met the man that would become my future husband.
He played tuba.
I played the percussion section.
He was just a skinny little thing, and the tuba was bigger than he was!
My first day, they thought I was a student teacher....
There was such a big difference.
I was the girl that other girls hated.
Don't know why, didn't care.
He was the one that people tried to push out the window on the school bus.
He was goofy, and laughable, and loveable all at once.
And the day that I met him, I knew that he would be my friend forever..
But I had no idea what the future would bring for us....who EVER knows that?
My 8th grade year, he moved up to the high school ( he was a year ahead of me) and we lost touch for a while...
But the following year, we were back together again, and I always thought of him as my best friend.
He would pick me up in his dad's old pick up truck...and I was ALWAYS terrified because on the passengers side, there was a giant hole in the floor, and I could watch the road fly by me....
I remember ONE time, he picked my sister up to go to the movies, and I was insanely jealous! This was MY friend, not hers...back off!!
His junior year, he asked me to be his date at prom....right after he literally killed the entire bus with one of his amazing down, people bellyaching over the stench, and he turns to me and said..."so, you're going to prom with me right?"
Now, how could a girl refuse that?
We had the best time.
I was so excited, he was so nervous.
We rode there in his Uncle's amazing classic car...can't remember what it was because I am starting to get tired (finally!)
We danced the night away...and the theme was Wonderful Tonight...

Everytime I hear that song now, it takes me back to that 16 year old girl...

The following year, it was MY prom time, and who else would I want to go with other than Dennis?
I asked, he said yes.
He showed up there, at my house, still nervous about my dad....
I drove my camero this time...and on the way there, just as we turned on the road to go to our high school, he reaches over and takes my hand...
I said, " what are you doing?"
He replies..."holding your hand."
Simple enough....
He graduated that year, and went off and joined the Navy.
He wrote me.
He came home from boot camp, and he wasn't this dorky little kid anymore...he had suddenly turned into a man somehow, and I will never forget the day that he walked into that bandroom while I was putting away my saxaphone...
Trench coat, military uniform....same goofy grin, and those amazing BC glasses...for those of you who don't know what that is...they are BIRTH CONTROL glasses...the UGLIEST things EVER!!!
My heart was pounding, my head was spinning, he had gained weight, and he just looked so GOOD to me...
That night was our annual band dance...he came to say goodbye. He was shipping out to Japan for four years.
My heart was broken...because I finally realized after all those years that there was something much much deeper to our relationship.
But, how do you say that....
I didn't, and he hugged me goodbye, and I went and sobbed on the bleachers in that old high school gym like a BIG. GIANT. BABY.
He left for Japan, and four years of 5 in the morning phone calls, and many letters (with my name spelled wrong ...pamala instead of pamela)....
I went off to college...FREEDOM was NOT my friend...
I had left behind that high school crush (which is what I was SURE it was) and I had my fun....and in the end, I didn't just bring home a GPA of 3.2, but also a beautiful, healthy 8 lb. 7 oz baby girl.
Dennis came home when she was only 4 months old...
The following conversation that ensued went something like this...
"so, I heard you had a baby..."
Yes, I had. He didn't know what to say, or how to say it, but he picked up the phone to call me...
And one of the very first pictures I have of the three of us together was in his parents house later on two nights later...
As I was sitting on that old couch, I looked across the living room at him, and the lights were low, and he wasn't wearing those BC glasses anymore, and his hair was longer on top, and he was tan, and he had this big, shit eating grin on his face, like he always does....and my heart flipped.
A thousand flipped...and my breath caught.
THIS was not what I expected!
Almost two years had passed since that night in the high school gym...surely this wasn't real...
But, it was.

He left to go back to Japan, and while he was there, more letters came....and one day, as I was floating in the pool, my mom brought me back a purple envelope...addressed to Pamala Griswold...LOL
Still spelling the name wrong..
I said to my mom...I am gonna marry this man...she said, ya think...and I replied, nope, I know.

In retrospect....

I have been blessed by many things....seen beautiful places I otherwise would not have if it weren't for our life together.
I have met people along the way that have touched my life in ways that I never could have imagined.
I have learned that life is ALWAYS going to throw you curveballs...some you will catch, some you will strike out on.
But I have learned more in the past six months about myself than I ever thought possible.
I am strong.
I am a good mom.
I am a good friend.
I am a good daughter.
I am a good wife.
I am a good listener.
I am a good sister.
I am a good sister-in-law.
I am a good daughter-in-law.
I give back what I recieve.
I believe that God is watching over me, and that He came into my life for a reason last January.
I sometimes overdo and believe in people too much, and I get hurt in the end, but for some reason, I am always there to hold my hand out to pull people back up on their feet again.
Everything happens for a reason, and right now, although I don't know what that reason is, I cannot question it, because it only makes it more difficult for me.

I have a good support system...people close, and people far. If I EVER needed anything, I know who I can rely on, and I have learned who I cannot.
My best friend is four states and nine hours away, and when he is out to sea, out on deployment, it is easier for me to deal with our separation. I know that may sound strange, but the military spouses out there know exactly what I mean.
I have cried many many tears in the past 13 years, but not more than I have cried in the past 6 months.
My husband.
I miss him .
His smell, his touch, his laugh, his snoring...the way that he always looks at me like he did when we met ALL those years ago back in 7th grade.
We have an amazing worth telling, and when it is all done and over, when this life no longer rules the one that we have built together....we are going to tell it. It spans over 20 + years of friendship, of laughter and tears....of eventually becoming partners in life.

We keep a journal. This journal is over eight years old. We have written back and forth in it for all of those years, through all of our trials and tribulations.
It is the story of us...the one that tells who we are, who we were, and who we have become.
Our love is deeper than either of us realized. Stronger than I ever thought....This man...I love him. I love him. I love him. Forever, for always, infinity.


It should really be entitled tonight...
I am having a hard time sleeping tonight.
I awoke this morning to a text message from my husband, telling me that he had been up since five in the morning, and he couldn't sleep because he was missing me....
To say that those words break my heart is an understatement.

Dennis and I have been married now for 13 years and 6 months. We have had our ups and our downs, but we have never been through anything like this.
When we moved "home" 4 years ago, we had all those months to discuss the impact that this decision would have on our family. Not just the five of us, but our ENTIRE family. I don't think that we knew what we were getting ourselves into.

Our marriage has been reduced to e mails, text messages and phone calls. Sometimes, it is to talk of nothing, sometimes it is to talk of everything.
I have heard all of the sayings...that which hurts us only makes us stronger...God never gives us more than we can handle....absence makes the heart grow fonder.
The thing husband is a Chief in the United States Navy. He signed a contract that made his life no longer his own, one that made him become property of the US Military.
We didn't come in his sea bag, but we have been there every step of the way.
I have questioned our decision on more than one occassion, and we are only six months into this four year separation.

I do not believe that we made the wrong choice. I have weighed the pros, I have considered the cons. The cons outweigh the pros as far as packing up and leaving.
When we married, I did not know what I was "getting into". I don't think that any spouse of a military personnal does. I believe with every ounce of my being that the wedding vows should be different for us. I think that they should not just include the for better and worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.
It should also include...through sea trials and deployments, through unexpected wars and duties, do you understand what this life will lead you to?

We were 22 years old when we got married. A ready made family with a baby on the way. Eventually, there were three children total who's little lives we also were responsible for. 13 moves in less than ten years is not what you would wish when raising a family, but it is part of this life. As I posted earlier, a beautiful disaster of a life.

I sang "Where've You been?" by Kathy Mattea to my husband on our wedding day...

Pam had all but given up when she and Dennis fell in love....she touched his face and shook her head, in disbelief she sighed and many dreams, I've held you near, now at last your really here...
Where've you been?
I've looked for you forever and a day.
Where've you been?
I'm just not myself when you're away.
He asked for her hand for life...and she became a sailor's wife. He was home each night by eight, but one stormy evening, he was late...
Her frightened tears fell to the floor...until his key turned in the door....
Where've you been?
I've looked for you forever and day.
Where've you been?
I'm just not myself when you're away.
They never spent a night apart...
For 60 years she heard him their in the hospital...
In separate beds on different floors...
Pam soon lost her memory...forgot the names of family.
She never spoke a word again, but then one day they wheeled him in....
He held her hand and stroked her head
And in a fragile voice..she said......
Where've you been?
I've looked for you forever and a day....
Where've you been?
I'm just not myself when you're, I'm just not myself when you're away......

If I had known then what I know now, I would have foreseen into the future that the chorus to that song was a perfect fit for the life that that 22 year old girl was about to lead....with her beautiful husband, and beautiful children.
I am the proud wife of a United States Navy Chief.
I am the proud wife of a man who believes in what he does, and does it in the best possible way.
I am the proud wife of a man who leads his people in such a way that they respect him and I am proud that I can call him my husband....
But I am just not myself when you're away......

Friday, October 9, 2009

Daily Struggles...

Listen for the music in all things and life will be a sympony of joy......We may not have it all together, but together we have it all....Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life....YOU are the author of your own life story....God talks to little boys while they are fishing....When I die, bury me in the woods so my husband will hunt for me...We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.....We do not remember days, we remember moments.....The best thing to hold in life is each other.....Always kiss me good night....and in the morning too.....Life is not measured by how many breaths you take, but by how many moments take your breath away.

These are all signs hanging in my house. Little reminders on a daily basis of what my life has offered me, and I have thankfully recieved. Too often, we forget what it is to be thankful, and focus on the negativity that life has handed us instead. I know I have done that many times myself and, for once, I am going to focus on NOT focusing on the negative.

Thirteen years of ups and downs, and I would NOT have had my life any other way.
I have become who I am now because of the life that I have led....even if people don't understand some of the choices I have made. In the end, the people that are meant to be in my life will be there, all judegements aside. And I will know who was true.

I am blessed with three of the most amazing children, who have been through more in their short little lives than most adults I know. They are strong, they are beautiful, they are the reason that I get out of my bed each morning, and say a prayer each night that God watches over them.

I am blessed with a man that loves me...unconditionally. Regardless of my mood, my shape, my size, my hair color, or my insanity that sometimes takes over in a fit of rage. He brings out my best, and he can sometimes bring out my worse. But in the end, when all is said and done, there is not ONE person in this world that I would want by my side, walking through this life with me. He is my heart...times infinity times google.

I am blessed with good family and good friends. I have people that know I am crazy, and still love me nonetheless. Who have stood by me through bad and good decisions, and moments of pure loss of judgement where even I didn't know what in the world I was talking about. Who have laughed with me, who have cried with me, who have been there when I least expected it, and who have come when I didn't think they even knew I was hurting.

I was diagnosed with severe depression, insomnia, severe anxiety and panic disorder back in January of this year. Since then, there have been many changes. Not only in my life, but in the life of those around me. When people are alone, or think they are alone, there is no hope.
I have hope.
I have the hope that someday, I will be able to get out of my bed, and not have my body feel like that of a ninety year old woman from all of the aches and pains that I should not have at my ripe old age of 35.
I have hope that this war will end. That somehow, someway, all of the prayers that have been been said will be answered.
I have hope that I have taught my children how to be good people, and that people can see that, even when I am not there to put them back in place.
I have hope that they will find a cure for fibromyalgia.
I have hope that they will find a cure for NF.
I have hope that in time, the peace that I am trying to find will surround me.

So, until that day comes, I will be thankful, and I will remember that I am blessed. I will read my little signs all over my little house each morning when I wake up and am walking around fuzzy eyed with my perfect coffee that my little girl made me. And, each night before I go to bed, I will do the same, and then I will say a prayer, thanking God for giving me this beautiful disaster of a life that I have...because without it, I would not know who I was or where I was going....