Thursday, October 25, 2012

Who Knew the First Lady was a Comedian?

Last night, I had the privilege of attending an event at which the First Lady of the Marine Corps, Mrs. Bonnie Amos, spoke to military wives about what she feels are the most important aspects of being a military wife. When she began speaking her voice was sweet and dainty, leading me to believe this woman, who has made it nearly forty-two years as a military wife, surely has never yelled or thrown fits about the trials of military life. But I soon learned that the Commandant’s wife is no different from the rest of us military wives who have our fair share of complaints about life in the military.

Within the first few minutes of her speech, Mrs. Amos had the crowd laughing hysterically. She is one funny woman! She talked about the time she met her husband and joked about how, at first sight, she really didn’t like him at all. It wasn’t until he walked into the bank where she worked and asked her out that she willingly accepted, but only if he would pay to take her roommate along as well. She told us he agreed, and then shocked us all when she said, “Here’s this guy thinking he’s going to have a ménage a trois!”
She continued on with her speech, creating laughter in the audience all along the way. She talked about how she threw a temper tantrum every time her husband got orders and they had to move. She admitted that she threw tantrums upon leaving the old house and arriving at the new house, all the while saying, “This is the last time I am doing this!” There is no doubt that a sense of relief came over many of us in the audience knowing that even the Commandant’s wife has had her share of hissy fits throughout her time as a military wife. Upon talking about her grandchildren, Mrs. Amos told us that we might soon see the youngest one’s name in the newspaper because they plan on sending him to prison, at which time she playfully rolled her eyes at the thought of how unruly the child is. One would expect a child’s own mother to joke about this, but for the grandmother to be saying it was especially funny because usually grandmothers think their grandkids can do no wrong!
When the time came for questions at the end, one girl asked how she has made her marriage work for almost forty-two years. Her initial reply was, “I’m very sexy.” You can imagine our amusement hearing these words come from this sweet little lady! In response to the same question, she also talked about the importance of saying “I’m sorry” and asking forgiveness, humorously noting “even though he should have been the one to say it first.” Even after forty-one plus years of marriage, the woman still understands the idiosyncrasies of living with a man, especially an ego-driven Marine!
In addition to the humor, Mrs. Amos also spoke more seriously about the aspects of being a military wife. Specifically, she talked about having a career as a military spouse. She used her own career path as an example, stating that despite her managing experience she was forced to take an administrative assistant job at one point because that’s all she could find. But because of her willingness to take that job, she eventually worked her way up to a managing position for a real-estate company. The message she emphasized to us was how important it is to be adaptable and flexible when it comes to a job. She told us to discover what it is we can do, as basic as it might seem, but “be flexible as you go along the way.”
Another point that was made, something which resonated with me, is that our deepest learning comes from the hard times. Mrs. Amos emphasized the importance of friendships, the people we meet, and the connections we make. Sometimes the reason we are connected with certain people is because of the difficulties we are facing. In the midst of struggle, we find them or they find us, and we learn a great deal from them. She also stressed the importance of becoming involved with other military wives and with events or organizations in the military community. Not only do we meet others who could potentially become best friends, we also have the chance to make a difference. The First Lady said that she didn’t become very involved with the wives community until her husband was already a Lieutenant Colonel, but once she did she realized how much she had been missing. Now, she said her favorite part of the military lifestyle is the wives she meets along the way.
Everything Mrs. Amos said touched me deeply, as it is only natural to heed the wisdom of someone who has been through so many years as a military wife. But the most poignant advice Mrs. Amos gave, for me, came when I raised my hand during the question segment and asked what things helped her to pick herself back up and keep going when life got tough. She told me it was her faith and spirituality, and “Knowing that the reason we are in this position is because God has put us here.” My eyes filled with tears as she spoke because that is exactly the thing which gets me through my hard times. I can whine and complain and have a tantrum all I want, but that doesn’t change anything. I can’t change anything. The only way to get by when life gets overwhelming is to trust that God has put me here for a reason. This is his plan for me and there is a greater purpose for this way of life that I may not yet be able to see. I felt so blessed to have heard those words coming from the First Lady of the Marine Corps, a woman who knows more than anyone what it is like to be a military wife.
When the evening was over, I was filled with inspiration and motivation. I was reassured of the plan for my position as a military wife. I rediscovered the reason why I really do love being a military wife. I felt as though I could get through anything the military threw at me. I thought that if this wonderful woman could make it through all those years as a military wife, then so could I. When I got home, I told my husband that if he happened to be chosen for Commandant someday, I think I would be okay with it. He laughed, but I meant it. However far God decides to send us on this adventure, I will follow.
I am humbly grateful to Mrs. Amos, for sharing her inspiration and wisdom, and for the great laughs. She has no doubt left a footprint on my heart.


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