Yesterday I met with several military widows of different ages for lunch. We have grown to like each other. At first, for many months in fact, we seemed shy of really getting to know each other. I think during our first meeting though, we all made a conscious choice to bond because those of us there had not had other military widows in which to meet face to face to share our lives. It took effort to even 'remember' to call, or send a card to keep the lines of communication open because we simply were not used to having this connection. Those meeting each month were faithful and as time progressed we began to open up and share our stories and looked forward to seeing each other. We didn't spend our time working off an agenda or politics of any organization, we simply had lunch together and enjoyed each other for being there.
Then somewhere along the line it happened. We became a real part of each other and we began to bond. I listened to the stories during our last meeting and saw the connections that have been made from that first meeting which was held a little over three years ago. I see a group of older women who genuinely care for each other, ready and willing to open their arms to new members. I see a new face from the new generation of military widows and hear interesting stories of the differences of our generations in how we communicate and I hear open discussion of real life situations. Most of all I see women accepting each other and embracing our differences. It does not matter what generation or war or circumstance it was that brought us together, we are learning to relate...heart to heart.
We lost one of our members recently by death. We will all miss her for that part of her that was a part of us. The part only she could bring. In another case, one of the members changed phone numbers. Not being able to reach her, another member contacted yet another member who directly went to check to see what was going on. We chuckled as we recognized the message, "if you don't stay connected we will send out the militia to check on you."
Part of the challenge of not only connecting but getting to that point of feeling a sense of belonging takes persistence. Stick-to-it because many in the older generation still use old methods of communicating. And to top it off, our older generations are not used to being able to communicate feelings in regard to our personal stories.
Each generation has it's own strengths and weaknesses. Each has it's unique gifts and talents. There are times I get discouraged because I am not sure it is possible to build bridges across generations sturdy enough to carry the masses of military widows who exist today. Uniting means we must bridge the differences and accept each other as equal while we learn to connect heart to heart. The meeting yesterday encouraged me. I know my life is blessed to have a foot bridge between generations of military widows going on. It is a joy I would like to share as we all learn to interact more openly, heart to heart, widow to widow, generation to generation.
L to R: Pat, Joan, Dee, Brooke, Ann, Glenda and Irene.
You are my inspiration.