My hometown is San Antonio, Texas, aka Military City. My dad was in the Navy and each of his parents and his only brother were in the military. I think his mom was in the navy and dad and brother were in the air force, or maybe vice versa. I don’t remember. My mom wanted to be in the Air Force, but became a mother instead (thanks, Momma), and her dad and brother (I think) were in the Air Force. Therefore, being from such a military strong family and city, I always knew that at least one or more of my siblings would end up in the military too. Sure enough, my twenty-year-old brother, Cody, just finished A school for the Navy. After being gone for five or so months, he just got home on Thursday. It was fantastic! He always said he’d plan a surprise homecoming should he be in the military, but I wasn’t expecting him to do it before ever being deployed. He did it though.
He told us he’d be home at midnight Thursday night, but the actual plan was for him to be home at midnight Wednesday night. According to our mom, he showed up to surprise his fiancé first. Then he showed up at our childhood home to surprise Momma. In her typical fashion, she looked through the peep hole at the sound of a knock on the door. When she saw that the peep hole was covered by someone’s hand, she knew right away that it was my brother. She rejoiced in excitement and opened the door. After opening the door, she saw my sister-in-love and dad, who was in on the surprise, standing behind my brother on the porch.
After surprising my mom, they all went to down the street seven houses to surprise my mom’s parents. Then momma took the kids to three different schools to surprise our nine school-aged siblings. Sometime during that time, I received a text message from my mom asking me if I could meet her so she could give me something.
At first, I didn’t think anything of it, but then I went on Facebook and was reminded that Cody would be coming home that day. It’s very hard to surprise me, because I’m always thinking about and overanalyzing things, so I immediately realized that’s probably what the surprise was. Still though, I tried not to dwell on it, just in case I was wrong. My mom suggested that we meet at Starbucks and I agreed. When I got there she was already there. Nobody in my family is every on time for something, let alone early. In fact, I’m really ever the only who leaves early or on time. My mother being there before was almost definitive proof that my brother would be with her. When I walked inside, I found my mom sitting alone. I thought, maybe it’s just coincidence she wanted to give me something the same day my brother was supposed to be home. I say down with her and we started talking. Then Cody came up to me and honestly, my heart is STILL smiling!
The truth is that when we were in high school, Cody and I practically hated each other. More times than anything, we fought and yelled at each other over every little thing. There was a time when I thought I would be glad to live apart without seeing each other all the time. That was before I had to go several months without seeing him. If you’ve ever watched the first Cheaper by the Dozen movie, then you’ve heard one of my favorite quotes. Hilary Duff’s character, Lorraine, says to a younger sibling, “Sometimes, I may want to kill you, but I will always kill for you.” It’s a bit dramatic, but it’s true. Even in the days when my brother and I would fight enough that we told each other we hated each other, I know there wasn’t anything that could ever keep us from protecting each other from anyone else. You know, it’s the whole “You can’t pick on my sibling! Only I can pick on my sibling,” scenario.
Anyway, I wanted to write this blog post for two reasons. One reason is that I do love my brother I’m so glad he’s home, for however long that may be. He’s getting married today and that’s super exciting. I’m not one for physical or monetary gifts. There’s too much pressure and not enough sentiment. I’m a writer, so I do what I do best. I write letters and songs and things for the people I care about. That’s why I’m writing this—to show my brother and the world how much I love him!
The second reason is a bit more… political, I suppose. So many people disrespect servicemen and women and their families. They take servicemen and women and their families for granted. If you’re not a serviceman or woman and you’ve never been in a military family, then you can’t even begin to understand how taxing it is. Yes, my dad got out of the Navy when I was only seven and my brother went into the navy nearly fifteen years later, so I haven’t lived with it for the majority of my life, but I do remember. A little part of me remembers what it was like to wait for my dad to get home after being deployed for months on end. I don’t really remember many details, but somewhere in the back of my mind I do remember one thing. I remember being in a crowd of people waiting for my dad and then sitting on his shoulders walking through the same crowd when we were finally reunited. I felt the heartbreak and saw the sadness on my siblings faces as we discussed how Cody wasn’t with us. He didn’t get have Thanksgiving with us. Nor did he get to have Christmas with us. He didn’t even get to be with us for the New Year or for his birthday. We didn’t get to see him in person. We did however, thanks to the new technology of the past few years, get to Facetime him on our cellphones, so that was nice. It was actually quite exciting. So I write this blog post as a thank you to my brother and as a reminder to those who might read it that being in the military and being a family member of the military can be very taxing, so please remember that when you enjoy your freedoms! I certainly remember it as often as I can, especially since I can’t go anywhere without seeing servicemen and women wherever I go!