When my grandpa joined the Army, he asked my grandma--his friend and neighbor--if she would send him a picture and write to him so that his name would get called during mail call. She wrote to him. I don't know what exactly she wrote, but it was enough to capture my grandpa's heart. In 1938, they got married. And just like that, Grandma was an Army wife.
My grandma often talked about how much she loved the Army. Even just a few days before she passed away, she said again to my youngest brother, "I loved the Army." Considering this small town girl hadn't been to a big city until she was 17, getting a life of moving from place to place--all over the country and the world--was an exciting life for her. It was hard too, but she loved it. She did not want to be a farmer's wife. She grew up a farmer's daughter, and she figured whatever the Army had to offer her was bound to be better than farming.
So many of her stories of Army life blend together in my mind. There were homes that had bugs; homes that had squeaky floors; homes that needing painting. In Japan, they had women who helped her with the cleaning and admired my aunt and my mom's blonde hair. Oh, how she loved having women help her with the daily chores.
Since I got to travel quite a bit with my grandparents, I often was able to see the different places my grandpa had been stationed, sometimes even driving by the house they might have lived in. In 1997, my family went to Hawaii with my grandparents. We drove through the neighborhood they had once lived in; we walked around Tripler Army Hospital where my grandpa had worked; we visited the friends they had had when they lived in Honolulu.
It has never been far from my mind that my grandpa was in the military. I can hardly bear to watch World War II movies because I always picture my grandpa as a young kid fighting in the war. He didn't talk much about his Army days.
My grandma, on the other hand, loved to talk about her Army days. Her experience makes me smile. It wouldn't be a life I would want, but then again, I didn't have the childhood she had. From Washington to Oregon to California to Nevada to Japan and finally Hawaii, it was the Army that took my grandma where she wanted to go.
She might have been a small town girl who grew up during the Great Depression, but she had big dreams. That's why she loved the Army.