It was not my finest hour. I was yelling as loudly as a woman who prefers to save face with her eavesdropping children could yell. He looked at me as if I had grown two heads, which considering my state might have been accurate.
“Don’t the children and I mean anything to you? Why does she always win? She snaps her fingers and off you run,” I sobbed. “If you were involved with another woman, I would know how to compete. But how can I compete with this? I don’t even look good in olive drab or desert khaki.”
His look of incredulity added the weight of truth to his immediate defense. “What are you talking about?” he responded. “I would do anything for you and our children. Keeping our country safe is the biggest thing I can think of. The long weekends and the upcoming deployment—all of it is because I love you.”
Then we returned to packing everything we could anticipate he might need for a period of unspecified length—at a destination yet to be determined. We may not have known exactly what he would need, but we knew what he would face. Burning sun, scorching sand, scorpions, scuds and a lengthy separation were the certainties of Desert Storm.
I am no more naïve now than I was then. The little boy in him wouldn’t have missed this adventure for the world, but it was the man in him who assessed the danger and did it anyway.
What I learned that day was George loved large. He loved more people with greater devotion than any man I have ever known. He expressed his love in actions more than words. He gave beautiful and thoughtful gifts, but more importantly, he gave completely of himself.
We didn’t always appreciate this quality in him—his children and I. We would have preferred to have him home, available to watch more of the games in which we played or simply to play with us—ball in the yard or board games by a roaring fire. In his later years, he regretted not having been more available for us. In my later years, I regret not having been more appreciative of the sacrifices he made.
In this is love—recognizing the biggest thing you can do for the people you love and then doing it whole-heartedly.