I have always admired the Pioneer life. Envied the Pioneer woman.
They literally built their lives. Their muscles and bones, heart and soul went into producing every facet of their existence. In this world today, with the instant gratification of smart phones, internet, mass chain stores and restaurants on every corner, people can get what they need in a matter of moments. Furniture, rugs, plates, spoons, food. Pick it up, swipe your card. Done.
The pioneers made those items; often times, they produced the materials that went into making those goods. Everything was precious and dear. Their food, rugs, furniture, clothes. They made them with their hands. Their bodies labored to produce the simplest of things. I have found myself wishing at times to return to that simpler time. When people valued things and persons more. Worked harder for their happiness and livelihood.
I see that Pioneer spirit in the Army family. In the Army wife. Army children. The Soldier offers his life, his body, heart and soul for work that few volunteer to do. The Army family ventures into new territory frequently, building a home and a life in a place completely foreign to them. We throw our bodies into packing and unpacking our lives, building a happy home. Our ingenuity and steadfastness mirrors that of the pioneer family. Because it’s back-breaking work. There’s so much risk. Yet we continue. Because this is the life we somehow love. The work, the toil. The heartache and risk. That’s not the overriding aspect of this life. It’s the search for the right house—the one we’ll lovingly and carefully make into a home, even for a few months. It’s watching the movers unload furniture yet again, noting damage to our precious pieces of “home”—and smiling anyway. It’s setting up the furniture, knowing that slowly we are making a life for our family—gathering the familiar. Unpacking, setting up, replacing the old, falling in love with the new. Making, working. Muscles, bones. Heart and soul.
I am a Pioneer. I make our life. I make it over and over. I find a house, make a home. I produce an environment of familiar with my hands, working and toiling. I maintain the home, when my Soldier is home and away. I endure terrible hardships and great joy, all with a smile. I teach my children how to handle adversity, overcome the odds. Even when it seems impossible. I make our lives, produce a positive existence. I turn to the other pioneer women I know. My mother. My Army girlfriends. I seek advice, receive consolation. Laugh. Live. Love. Survive.
Because despite the hardships—the irreparable damage of furniture that held my babies, the destruction of precious items we worked hard to obtain–, despite the heartache of leaving friends and family, locking our old homes for the last time, this life is so worth it. Because we make our livelihood, our homes, our lives. Over and over again. Beyond the friends and family, the numerous homes, the frequent moves, the constant separation, there is a beauty that is indescribable and a victory that is unmatchable.
Maybe it’s not envy I feel for the Pioneer life, for the Pioneer woman. Perhaps it’s a camaraderie, a solidarity with her spirit. A spirit that has continued through the generations, rooting itself in a love of the earth, a loyalty to our country, fidelity to our family. A determination to forge ahead. The way ahead may be unfamiliar, but we move forward anyway. Because this is all we know. Because this is our lives.
This is our spirit.