All my life, I have been surrounded by strong women: my mom, my grandmothers, my sisters, my wife. Each has acted, in their own unique way, as source of inspiration for me.
If you asked me as a kid if I felt this way about my oldest sister, Lindsay, I probably would have laughed.
Don’t get me wrong, my sister has always been a kind and helpful sibling—at least when my parents were watching.
Admittedly, I was a gullible kid. Lindsay knew this and used it to her advantage. Whether it was tricking me into eating a mildly toxic leaf or tossing me into that one window egress I could never climb out of, she capitalized on my sweet, innocent nature.
Eventually I grew up and realized that I did not need to subject myself to her tricks. And she grew up as well, seemingly losing the motivation to mess with her younger brother. By the time she graduated high school, we were tolerant of one another just like most siblings.
Lindsay’s life since graduating high school has been busy, to say the least. She attended college, graduated, married her oldest grade school friend, and next became pregnant with her first child.
On the surface her life’s trajectory is unsurprising. But there is a twist. The man she married was not only a friend, but also a West Point graduate and now captain in the U.S. Army.
This changes the story to something that is more chaotic and uncertain. Not long after they said “I do,” Lindsay and her husband moved to Georgia. It was in Georgia that she gave birth to her daughter. Then it was off to Washington state where she gave birth to her second child, a son. It wasn’t long before they moved back to Georgia for a short time. Then they moved north to upstate New York, and there had two more sons. They reside there today, at least for now.
Sprinkled in amongst the moves were long stretches of time when her husband was performing his military duties. That included training, Ranger school, and two deployments to Afghanistan. From the day they were married to now, he has spent two and a half years away from his family, doing what most of us would not have the physical or mental capacity to do.
Constantly moving from state to state, raising four kids at times by herself, worrying about the safety of her husband; that’s enough to make any person crack.
During these stretches of time, Lindsay and I talked a fair amount on the phone. There were days I would hear the phone ring and think, “Is today the day she is going to breakdown? Ask for help?” Not once. I could tell that these thoughts never crossed her mind. Instead, we would talk about her kids, retell classic stories from our childhood, or make plans for her next visit home. Just normal conversations.
She never complained. She never asked for pity.
Like many of us, my gratitude and admiration for our nation’s servicemen and women run deep. Now being closer to that life and witnessing my sister’s experiences, the scope of my admiration has grown.
The spouses of our servicemen and women have experiences that, again, many of us would not have the capacity to endure. In the sea of chaos that is military life, they act as the constant calm. And they do this without recognition or praise. It is this incredible strength that leaves me in awe.
Does this mean that I am in awe of Lindsay? The same sister who years before tricked and teased me as the gullible and loving younger brother? Absolutely.
Her poise in uncertain times proves her to be a pillar of strength for her family and for me. In those moments when life gets hectic, I can look to my sister for inspiration and guidance.
And if this is just a trick on her part, then I don’t mind falling for it.