Hello, my name is Haylee. I’m a military wife with three small children, and I struggle with feeling invisible. And I’m glad to be here.
(Well, I wasn’t. But I am now.)
I was raised by small town people, my granddaddy could talk down a fencepost, and I thought friendly conversations with strangers were normal.
After lots of traveling and military moves, I discovered that other cultures in America are much more reserved. Somehow that left me feeling like I was just another number or problem.
However, that feeling of being invisible was redeemed thanks to my mini-van breaking down in the Middle-Of-Nowhere, Kansas. What a sweet reminder of who America really is!
I used to love road trips. My husband and I would test the limits of both our gas tanks and our bladders frequently in the early years of our marriage. I can think of at least two five-thousand mile trips and once, we drove the 18 hours from Oklahoma to West Virginia with ONE STOP. (Thank you, diesel Jetta.)
But road-tripping by myself with kids is an entirely different experience. Instead of testing my bladder, I am now testing the depths of my patience and the resiliency of my eardrums.
The last sound I wanted to hear on a deserted stretch of highway yesterday was the thwack, thwack, thwack of my mini-van’s engine. However, that thwack, thwack, thwack might just as well have been the prelude to the song “Proud to be an American.”
You could say Pam from roadside assistance was “just doing her job,” but her concerned voice asking if we were okay was what I needed to hold it together. Our next good samaritan showed up in the tow truck only 45 minutes later.
Josh, our tow truck ninja, is a former Marine and combat veteran. Apparently, Josh had been on a different call and went back to exchange trucks so he would have room for me and my kids. He helped me lift three heavy carseats up into the cab of his tow truck, and while I buckled the seats in, he kept the kids from escaping onto the highway. On our one hour drive to the mechanic, the kids fell asleep. Josh stealthily unloaded the van without waking the kids and drove another 30 minutes out of his way to make sure we were all safe in a hotel.
Larry, our mechanic, coordinated with my husband and was even willing to stay late to receive our van.
Next, we met Harold at the hotel who carried all of our luggage and three carseats to our room so I could focus on my exhausted children.
Lee, from hotel maintenance, engaged lovingly with my kids and you could tell he was a grandpa. Shannon and Megan, from the front desk, overheard me the next morning talking about needing caffeine. On their break, they bought me a 12 pack of Dr. Pepper and 3 kites for the kids entertainment. Watching them play for thirty minutes outside in the sunshine was so beautiful to my weary mama heart.
Remember Larry, our mechanic? He was back at work that next morning at 5:30am and fixed our van! We are back on the road as of 11am!
Sure, you could say that all of these people were “just doing their job,” but there is a huge difference between going through the motions and genuinely caring about others.
The really cool part? Most of these people didn’t even know I was a military spouse until after they had already helped me.
I don’t know their political affiliations, if we share the same faith, or if we have similar backgrounds. But meeting these folks has made me truly grateful and proud to be an American. I don’t care if you think that’s cheesy.
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