… Makes friends easily, adaptable, well travelled, independent, decorator, gardener, mechanic (when necessary), single mum (frequently), tough, fiercely loyal, wry sense of humour, expert gin & tonic maker, resilient, always hopeful – a lover of life.
My dictionary definition of an army wife, in case you hadn’t guessed.
I’m proud to be one of this diminishing breed, whose other characteristic is being a ‘pack animal’. Army wives are there for one another. When the going gets tough they stand alongside each other’s families supporting one another, sometimes emotionally but also practically.
Some of my best friends are either army wives or ex-army wives. The experiences we went through together as we waited anxiously for news from war zones or coped with being a lone parent far from our families, drew us close. Those bonds aren’t easily broken. That’s why writing a book with one particular army wife was the natural thing to do.
I first met Brenda Hale when she was a Sergeant’s wife while we were posted in Germany and our husbands were on an operational tour in Northern Ireland. Our children were born within a few months of each other. Brenda put me to shame in exercising back to fitness after giving birth and supported me in trying to run chaotic Sunday school sessions at the church on the barracks. In those years, although we worried for our husbands on operations in Belfast and Bosnia, I could never imagine what lay ahead.
One sunny August morning in 2009 I found my husband hunched at the foot of the stairs, shocked by the sudden death of a great man and a good friend. Neither of us could believe that this giant of a man had been taken away and his family left devastated. The harrowing news stories on the death of more soldiers in Afghanistan had become more personal than ever.
Some days later sitting at a table in an airport I still couldn’t take in the fact that the woman beside me had lost the love of her life, the father of her children and her best friend. How could this have happened?
It’s been a privilege to retrace the journey which the Hale girls have been on, through writing I married a soldier with Brenda. As she says, we’ve shared both tears and laughter as she has recalled wonderful moments, along with the most painful times.
If you’re looking for an inspirational read that gives you a real picture of life for army families, you’ll enjoy I married a soldier published by Lion Hudson. It tells the true story of how one very special army wife found a way through an event that threatened to crush her. This is a story of hope and faith beyond grief.