Valentine’s Day With a Twist

Author’s note: Several weeks after this was published, the military spouse honored in this piece, Auline, passed away unexpectedly. I will forever treasure the gift Auline was to my life, and I am grateful that my pen was guided to tell her how much she meant to me. She gave so much to the military spouse community and beyond; her heart had room for everyone… and we are all better because of her.

Valentine’s Day is a perplexing kind of holiday, isn’t it? It seems to me that it either makes you swoon or sends your eyes rolling. Or perhaps you simply shrug your shoulders and continue your day as normal.

And so I got to thinking…

We as military spouses are part of a unique group of women and men, who are known for resilience, strength, resourcefulness and determination. How many of you have heard someone tell you, “I don’t know how you do it?” Personally, I never have much of response, knowing that millions of people live this life successfully, and still millions more have done so before us. And then it hit me:

Millions of military spouses are resilient, strong, resourceful and determined. And millions have helped other spouses shoulder a load, learn the ropes and realize their own power. Now that is something to celebrate.

This year, regardless of where you fall on the Valentine’s Day Celebration spectrum, let’s celebrate fellow military spouses who have made a difference in our lives or the lives of others.

When I first thought of doing this, one person immediately came to mind: my friend and mentor, Auline.

Auline is one part wise owl, one part golden retriever and three parts firecracker. In the same instant, she can offer sage advice and a hug, while making you blush with a witty – and sometimes outrageous – one-liner. She is a counselor, a comedian, a hostess and a friend – the Golden Rule incarnate.

Before I married my husband, Auline wrote to me from Incirlik AB, Turkey, where her husband was my husband’s boss. She answered my questions, explained a few things and – most importantly – extended the kindness I came to value in her most. I felt reassured, and when I arrived at Incirlik a few months later, I knew I already had a friend there waiting for me.

Auline is open and friendly, considerate and positive. Ever the extrovert, Auline approaches life with a voracious appetite for laughter and friendship. She is the kind of woman everyone wants to be around. A person of great strength, Auline meets hardship straight on, with faith, resolve and trust. In short, she is an exemplary woman, leader, mother, spouse and confidante.

I am so very lucky to call her friend.

Reflecting on our time at Incirlik, I’ve often thought of Auline as my “military momma.” She showed me how to stand and inspired in me the courage to walk with confident footsteps. Probably the best advice she ever gave me was, “Don’t over-think it.” And if her actions could be put into words, I think they’d tell me, “The power is within you.”

All things considered, I am forever grateful for the difference Auline made in my life. And so I chose Valentine’s Day as a chance to tell her what she means to me. Celebrating it slightly early, I sent her a Valentine’s Day card, with a note describing – simply – how wonderful she is.

Who are the military spouses who have made a difference in your lives? Who gave you the advice that set the tone for the rest of your military life? Who are the spouses you admire and respect beyond words? This Valentine’s Day, tell them.

Send them a card, take them out for coffee or simply give them a shout-out on Facebook with #MilSpouseValentinesDay. Whatever your method, use Valentine’s Day as a chance to express your admiration for someone in our wide, brilliant, extraordinary military community.

If we all do this, it will be the hug felt around the world.

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