DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I am very close to both sets of my grandparents, actually, all three, if you count my stepmom’s parents, who have been in my life since I was nine. Since I joined the air force, I have been sent to training all over the country, and have at least another six months on my current overseas tour.
Right after I got here, my mom told me her parents weren’t doing so well, and then my stepmother’s father had bypass surgery that wasn’t as successful as they hoped it would be, although he is doing better now.
I know these are all things that happen to people as they get older, but I’m having a hard time not being closer to home to visit and help, if I could, with the care of my grandparents. I haven’t said much to my parents, because I think it would put more pressure on them knowing how unhappy being away from home is making me right now, but I really want them to know I care and would be there if I could.
Do I say something, or suck it up until I can get leave and head home? --- AWAY FROM HOME BLUES
DEAR AWAY FROM HOME BLUES: Your service to your country is something in which you and your family should rightfully take pride. As hard as it is for you to be away from those you love during challenging times, it’s part of the military life package.
Until you can be with them again, take full advantage of phone calls, video chats, texts, and emails. Once in a while, sit down and put pen to paper, the old-fashioned way, and send letters to those you love and miss. Having something that you’ve actually held in your hands gives your distant loved ones something of you that they can hold onto. Telling them about what’s going on in your life might make those back home also feel a little less distant from you.
Don’t be shy about letting your folks know you’d be there if you could. It might give you all comfort to be open about how you’re feeling. And don’t miss a chance to tell them how much you love them, and they mean to you.
A little mushy can go a long way to soothe sore hearts.
Finally, don’t suffer in silence. There may be a number of people in place right where you’re posted that are trained to help service members over rough patches. You can also reach out to others in your situation. Together, you might find safe and sane ways to cope.