My Garden and the National Guard

We interrupt our Tomato Tastings to bring you news of Hanna’s life…

I don’t often share the intimate details of my life with this audience. You may know when I lose a dear one or that my children have started school. But beyond these small details, my garden blog is dedicated to… well… gardening things.

Today, I need to share with you one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever had to make in my life. And I can say that with 100% honesty. Nothing was harder than this.

Several years ago, my husband shared with me that he had wanted to join the military. Like any sane wife, I said “Absolutely not.” After all, babies are hard to raise and I certainly did not want to be raising them by myself if I could help it.

But babies grow up and this year they are all grown up enough to go away to school, for the entire day. My husband did not ask, but did look at me imploringly with very convincing puppy eyes. (He has amazingly convincing puppy eyes.) And after saying no like at least 20 more times, I finally said yes.

And so my husband and I decided that he would join the National Guard reserves. After a massive diet and exercise program, a small letter writing campaign, and 2 months of back and forth with a lovely recruiter who seemingly goes only by the one name “Santiago”, at 11:15AM today, my husband was sworn in as a member of the National Guard.

He will leave me April 7, 2009 for a little over 6 months for basic and specialty training. In this current political climate, it also means that it is inevitable that he will be called up for active duty where he will eventually be away for much longer.   Right now, I consider basic to be the training wheels version of deployment.

Since this is a gardening blog, I have to relate this back to gardening, right? Well, what it comes down to is that I will be losing half of myself. While my husband is not an active gardener, as many couples will tell you, your other is an essential part of your garden regardless.

They may do the heavy work, they may lend a helping hand in the creation of yard and project and they may even be an active participant in building a garden masterpiece. But the most important part is that they are an ear. They listen patiently to your triumphs and tribulations, no matter how trivial. They understand that your need to vent about vine borers and slugs is essential to your mental gardening well being. They happily open their mouths and accept the communion of our gardens, whether it be a freshly picked zucchini or a still warm tomato. They understand us. That is what a gardener spouse does better than anything in the world.

And I will lose mine right at that most important time of spring. For the gardening year 2009, I will turn to ask him to mow the lawn or try this fabulous tomato and I will find that he will not be there. He will be in Missouri, doing drill or shooting a gun. Which is so far from my garden on so many levels…

So where does this go? Why did we do this if it hurts so much? Because at the end of the day or a lifetime, a person should be able to stand up and regret only the things they did, not the things they did not. The one hope is that in living like this, you have nothing at all to regret when everything is said and done.

30 thoughts on “My Garden and the National Guard
  1. I love the tomato round up. I am an avid gardner and canner. I am always looking for the best tomatoes for my recipies. I ahve given you an award. Stop by my blog to copy it to yours.


  2. Enid on

    It is true, you should only regret the things you did, not the “what if’s”. Trust his/your decision. God bless you and yours. Think of it as an adventure. Not only for him, but for you too.


  3. Oh,that is tough. We are considering a job for hubby where he would be gone from home 1/2 the time, ie, 3 weeks away, 3 weeks home. But — when home — he would be all ours. It’s so hard to think of making do without him, but I want him to be happy, and he is not happy in his current situation.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing – you’ve given me more to chew on.


  4. cindy on

    …whew,I guess there are things people say in times like these, but I don’t know what they are.

    We’re with you.


  5. John & Sue on

    You both have our backing and support. And do holler if you need any help ever, even gardening.


  6. This will be a true growing period for you and your family. My brother has been in the Army for 9 years and has spent 2 1/2 years in Iraq and some time in Korea.

    Your husband is truly a hero in my eyes, as is anyone that is so willing to serve and protect this great country we live in.


  7. nancy on

    Well all I can say is that you are a good wife. I really couldnt say I would ever let my hubby do that. But then Im from the Vietam era where most of my generation were trying to get out of service because there was a draft.


  8. I am so glad to be able to call you a friend. Don’t ask me why but it makes me so proud to hear about your husbands decision. It’s not that he is joining the military, but that he is living his dream. So many people these day’s just sit back and let everyone else carry the load and never reach for anything.

    Thanks for letting us take a peak into your family life. Having read your blog for the last few years it was clear you are a “one of a kind”. Now it appears your husband, and family are,too.


  9. christina d on

    I too am proud of you and your husband. It was a hard decision in these times, but just reading your blog, you will do fine.


  10. The other half of the gardening couple also *does the other stuff,* allowing the gardener to concentrate on the garden instead of whatever else might need done around the house.

    I wish your husband and you the very best for his service. Truly service, and I thank him and you.


  11. Wow, what a brave family you are – all of you.

    I think that without my other garden half I would do half of what his being around allows me to do.

    Living a life that feels destined is a gift that few people give themselves. Making reasonable reasons to NOT do those things we feel guided to do, is easier by far.


  12. Jane on

    Thank you for sharing the news and particularly the video. Our thanks to your husband for his courage in volunteering to guard us. (Of course I am concerned that you may need to give up the column – and I would miss it so much!) Our prayers will be with him – and you.


  13. Jolynn on

    To both you and your husband I would simply like to say ‘thank you’ for making a sacrifice to keep this country what it is.



  14. Memphis Mary on

    My son served six years in the national guard and has been out only one year and he desperately wants to go back. However, he’s got a great future as an engineer (he’s in college now)and if he joined back up we know he would be deployed again. I’m proud of his dedication to the service and the sacrifices he’s made for his country and know you will be proud of your husband for the same things. It’s the men and women that put others before self that make our freedoms so special. God bless you and yours.


  15. Please thank Mr. Hanna for his decision to serve. Keep your head down and Semper Fi!
    Newbury, Ohio


  16. Plot_thickens on

    You’re my favorite gardening blog. I’m sure I’m not alone.

    We’re all pulling for you. Tell us if we can help, a chance to reach out would just thrill us! What do you need that we can help with?


  17. Thanks for sharing this with all of us. And a thank you to your husband. It is a very brave thing your entire family is doing, for all of us.

    You should designate your garden as not just an “illegal” garden, but a “victory” garden as well.

    I will give a big hug to my “other gardening half” tonight, thank you of reminding me how important he is to my yard (I don’t know if I could be as brave as you!)


  18. Lots and lots of letter writing. That will cheer up the hubby and you will be able to get out what happened that day. I have several friends that have husbands over seas. I don’t know how they do it, but I commend them for doing it. Letters make the world of difference for them though.


  19. Hanna on

    Thank you to everyone for your good thoughts and well wishes. My husband was touched by your comments and I was as well. We will keep you up to date on everything as it happens. For now, it is a waiting game until April. And then, I will just have to wait some more. :p


  20. Kathy on

    I have never responded to a blog, but I felt compelled to do so after your entry. My husband has never been in the military, even though he has always wanted to, but he respected his father’s wishes and did not join up. He has not exactly regretted doing so, but I know he feels that he has let his country down. So it came as no surprise when both my daughter and son joined the military. My daughter served in Iraq in 2006 for 14 months and is scheduled to return next May-with her currently hubbie to be. My son will be going in October this year. So even though part of our hearts and minds go with our loved ones, I am proud of all those who make the decision to serve for freedom’s sake and bless all those who know what the “waiting” costs.


  21. Hello Hanna,
    Thank you for the blog, and for this entry. I have quoted you in today’s post in mine.


  22. Just had to say that I think your husband, and you, are very, very brave people. Thanks for sharing this very personal and touching moment.


  23. Congratulations and thank you for your service. Both of you, because the families also serve. It takes great strength of character and heart to follow your dreams and in a case like this to become a part of something greater than yourself. Godspeed Mr. Hanna. Hooah!


  24. Welcome to the ranks of the military spouse! We do not wear rank but we wear our hearts on our sleeves.

    My DH is an AF guy and has deployed twice. We have been in the AF for seven years now and he is now non-deployable because of the special duty job he is currently assigned to. I do dread the time when he becomes deployable again, but such as life.

    I made my DH wait to join up as well and I am glad I did, things have gone well and I couldn’t wish for better.

    I have had my garden help also ditch me in April (deployment) and my garden suffered a sad fate of many weeds. We made it though and the next year a smaller garden was planted. 🙁 He was deploying again. OY!

    Congratulations on the loss of a Garden helpmate? I am not sure how that should be said but it should be said. 😉


  25. I am new to your blog and was enjoying your tomato tasting tour, and by the time I got to this blog about your husband, I found I had already made a little place in my brain/heart for you and yours and your doings. I wish you and your family the very best in this time of struggle. This will be an opportunity for growth, above all things. Growth both in your own spirituality and strength, and in your marriage/family. Just remember, it’s the little things in life that make us the happiest, and those things can be shared across the world.

    Good luck.


  26. Lisa at Greenbow on

    I hope that this isn’t a mid-life crisis decision. I do wish him and you the best of life. No regrets.


  27. i’m so very sorry. that’s really all i should say. i’m 3rd generation military (and with plenty of bronze stars and officer bars and other shiny medals to prove ‘merit’), and in my family, we’ve learned the hard way- “military service” =/= “glory, wealth, honor, and power.”

    i guess your family will learn the same soon. good luck, and get out when you can. don’t let your kids fall for the same, if you love them. killing people in “exotic” countries is like rooting out plants and flowers you don’t know because they are ‘weird’ and ‘look like weeds.’ there’s no “glory” in making rich people more rich and pwerful. but that’s what grunts in our uniforms do.


  28. Hanna on

    fortunatly my husband did not join because he was looking for glory, wealth, and power. Anyone who thinks they will find those three things should realize that as a Private in the military, you make about the same as a McDonald’s fry cook.

    Honor is a different matter. Yes, you may have to horrible, bad things as a soldier. Please don’t think I come to this innocently. I have 2 grandfathers who have sworn never to speak of the horrors they saw in WWII. Friends who still suffer from PTSD after serving in wars and combats. Cousins and uncles who served or still serve. I know what military is. I know that Haliburton and other war profiteers have made more off the blood of ours than any enemy ever will.

    I know too that a significant portion of the National Guard here in Ohio were deployed to Galveston to help with Hurricane Ike. I know that without our soldiers, the tide of WWII may never have been turned. That Jews would have remained persecuted, perhaps even wiped out. Without our soldiers, we would be a British nation still.

    No, there is no glory, wealth, and power and you should not expect it. But there is honor because they protect and help us when our government decides we need it. It is the responsibility of those of us who do not serve to make sure that our men and women in uniform are used ethically and correctly. So, if you have a problem with the way our govenment is using these soldiers, I have a few questions for you.

    When was the last time you picked up the phone and called your senator or representative? Sent them an email letting them know how you feel about the war and how we are useing our soldiers? And I hope to God that you are a registered voter and plan to not only vote in the upcoming election but research the canidates and make sure you are voting for those who feel the same as you? Are you doing these things?

    Or are you just bitching about what you see wrong with the world on a gardening blog? Yes, a very effective method of change. *rolls eyes*


  29. Bravo Hanna!

    Thankfully very few people that I have met living on a military base ever joined for the “glory, wealth, honor, and power.” Actually, let me change that, I haven’t met any. None. Not one. I mean… did they even look at the pay scale? Hmm?


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