search was made on the internet for Paige Swiney and this article was
found on at least fifteen sites. I think it can safely be said that it
is in the public domain and Jack's Joint shall contribute to its
Jack's Joint received the
following email on February 24, 2005 - I am posting it at the beginning of
this essay for all to see.
February 24, 2005
I'm Paige Swiney. I found my
story on your website. Thanks for spreading it--I think it's a great tribute
to military wives. You're free to share the story whenever and wherever you
Could you do two things for me?
1) The story you printed is only half mine. The first part of the story
about the Commissary guy is mine. Col. Steve Arrington wrote the second part
of that story. His portion begins at "Over the years, I've talked a lot about
military spouses..." Could you credit him for that portion of the story?
I've never met Col. Arrington, but our stories were used together in the
syndicated Chicken Soup column, which is published in papers all over the US.
2) The story is being published in the newest of the Chicken Soup books,
Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul, which is due out April 26th. I
wonder if you could make some comment on your site regarding the
book--something with regard to the fact that there are many more stories like
this available in the book.
In all honesty, I am not being paid for any publicity regarding this new
Chicken Soup book. I just think it's a wonderful
tribute to military wives, and I think that tribute is very small when
compared to the sacrifice they give to be married to military men. For that
reason, I believe attaching something about the book is important. It's your
decision, in the end, how you treat this request.
By the way, I like your site....
It was just another
harried Wednesday afternoon trip to the commissary. My husband was off
teaching young men to fly. My daughters were going about their daily
activities knowing I would return to them at the appointed time,
bearing, among other things, their favorite fruit snacks, frozen pizza,
and all the little extras that never had to be written down on a grocery
My grocery list, by
the way, was in my 16-month-old daughter's mouth, and I was lamenting
the fact that the next four aisles of needed items would pass by while
extracting the last of my list from my daughters mouth, when I nearly
ran over an old man. This man clearly had no appreciation for the fact
that I had 45 minutes left to finish the grocery shopping, pick up my
4-year old from tumbling class, and get to school where my 12-year-old
and her car pool mates would be waiting.
I knew men didn't
belong in a commissary, and this old guy was no exception. He stood in
front of the soap selection staring blankly, as if he'd never had to
choose a bar of soap in his life. I was ready to bark an order at him
when l realized there was a tear on his face. Instantly, this grocery
isle roadblock transformed into a human. "Can I help you find
something?" I asked.
He hesitated, and
then told me he was looking for soap.
"Any one in
particular?" I continued.
"Well, I'm trying to
find my wife's brand of soap."
I started to loan
him my cell phone to call her when he said, "She died a year ago, and I
just want to smell her again."
Chills ran down my
spine. I don't think the 22,000-pound Mother of all Bombs could have had
the same impact. As tears welled up in my eyes, my half-eaten grocery
list didn't seem so important. Neither did fruit snacks or frozen pizza.
I spent the remainder of my time in the commissary that day listening to
a man tell the story of how important his wife was to him -- how she
took care of their children while he served our country. A retired,
decorated World War II pilot who flew over 50 missions to protect
Americans still needed the protection of a woman who served him at home.
My life was forever
changed that day. Every time my husband works too late or leaves before
the crack of dawn, I try to remember the sense of importance I felt that
day in the commissary. Some times the monotony of laundry,
housecleaning, grocery shopping, and taxi driving leaves military wives
feeling empty -- the kind of emptiness that is rarely fulfilled when our
husbands come home and don't want to or can't talk about work. We need
to be reminded, at times; of the important role we fill for our family
and for our country.
portion of this essay begins here
- Over the years, I've
talked a lot about military spouses -- how special they are and the
price they pay for freedom, too. The funny thing is, most military
spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses. They do
what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship,
but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what
love truly is.
Is there truly a
difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself. Other
spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and
putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll
live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can
be transplanted frequently. Other spouses decorate a home with flair and
personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home
with flare tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the
same size windows or same size rooms. Curtains have to be flexible and
multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces.
Other spouses have
living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have
immaculate living room/dining room combos. The coffee table got a
scratch or two moving from Germany, but it still looks pretty good.
Other spouses say good-bye to their spouse for a business trip and know
they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive.
Military spouses say good-bye to their deploying spouse and know they
won't see them for months, or for a remote, a year. They are lonely, but
Other spouses, when
a washer hose blows off, call Maytag and then write a check out for
having the hose reconnected. Military spouses will cut the water off and
fix it themselves. Other spouses get used to saying "hello" to friends
they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying "good-bye" to
friends made the last two years. Other spouses worry about whether their
child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about
whether their child will be accepted in yet another school next year and
whether that school will be the worst in the city -- again.
Other spouses can
count on spouse participation in special events: birthdays,
anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth
of a child. Military spouses only count on each other, because they
realize that the flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has
to be that way. Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are
imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home.
Military spouses wear yellow ribbons around their hearts and they never
go away. Other spouses worry about being late for mom's Thanksgiving
dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for
program showing an elderly lady putting a card down in front of a long,
black wall that has names on it touches other spouses. The card simply
says, "Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. You would have been sixty today." A
military spouse is the lady with the card, and the wall is the Vietnam
Memorial. I would never say military spouses are better than other
spouses are. But I will say there is a difference. I will say, without
hesitation, that military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom
as do their active duty husbands and wives. Perhaps the price they pay
is even higher. Dying in service to our country isn't nearly as hard as
loving someone who has died in service to our country, and having to
live without them.
God bless our
military spouses for all they freely give!
God bless America!
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