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Been there done that -Departing with Dignity

Best of Winter 2015-01This past May Chief Warrant Officer Claude Paquette’s attended his Departure with Dignity Dinner where his spouse, Tina Paquette reflected on her husband career and her time as a military spouse. (Italics or making it different – this is the pre-story) Wow, 36 plus years with the Canadian Armed Forces.

I was destined to be a military spouse and it has given me the opportunity to give back to this beautiful country that I am so proud to call my home, for the freedom and life that we have so easily learned to take for granted. It is my contribution to continue what my grandfather, uncles, father and especially my mother. They all worked so hard to preserve our country’s principles for generations to come.

Being a military spouse, I have had to adjust to deployments and homecomings on a minute’s notice. I have been a single parent on many occasions and my children have learned that their dad has a job to do and it must be done, where ever it may take him and for whatever length on time.  It is a way of life and one that we have grown accustomed to, and I would not change a thing.

I have learned that if it will not shut off at three in the morning just disconnect the fuse, and that also applies to the dash light on the truck, once you find it.  I have learned that working out at the gym after 21 days of snow blowing won’t improve my shoulder strength and when I can’t do it one more day, I know when I arrive home after a too long day that a wonderful stranger will have cleared the driveway for me. And when the dog gets sprayed by a skunk or there are hurricane winds blowing the neighbours furniture away, and you are unable to help from because you are so far away, know that a phone call makes all the difference and makes everything seem a little less important.

I have learned that being there to support younger wives and mothers gives me a purpose and a feeling of joy that they will never realize.

I know that I will once again have to leave family and friends behind, and we will never quite know if or when we will see them again. I do know that after being separated for years we can pick up right where we left off. The military family will not replace, but will help fill the void and will forever be a very important and treasured part of our lives.

Moving onto the next location brings excitement and hesitation.  I know we will have to change work, schools, leave friends. However, we will adapt and adjust to our new surroundings as we are off to yet another new adventure

I know that the military has made many things possible, having breakfast in the Swiss Alps, seeing tumbleweed and a field fire from 50 miles away on the prairies of Saskatchewan. It has lead me to finding one of my favourite places on this earth in Lawrencetown Beach, travelling down the Rhine River in a bow tie, drinking an Italian red house wine, the only red I have ever really enjoyed, wearing jade from China, having a complete stranger show up at my work with flowers and beautiful treasures from my valentine and having the honour of meeting one of my favourite people of all time The Honourable Romeo Dallaire. These are only a few of my many treasured memories.

For your many years of service, Claude, I thank you for this. We have not just gone through this life; we have lived it, grew from it, and we experienced it. The military has taught us unity as a family that we have embraced. We have watched our children grow, advance and shared our knowledge with them. We created our own traditions, experienced them together and we have loved and cherished one another. Now they have gone on to their own lives, and we look forward to sharing in their experiences and their lives.

Going forward Claude, I want you to cherish all of the memories.

Remember all the good times and what the military has instilled in you. I know going forward you will achieve whatever it is that you put your mind to. Know that I am proud of you and only want what is best for you and our life together. The military is what we know, and we will go forward together and achieve this change and we will embrace it.

On this day, your day, remember that we laughed, cried and stood together as a family. We stuck together in good times and in bad. We supported one another, and we were happy. Your success was our success.

I want you to relish this moment, your passion, your dedication, your commitment, your trust and responsibility, your reputations and your honour have never wavered, and you certainly deserve this recognition. Reflect back, remember and then relax.

I know you will enjoy this day, your day. Congratulations. You deserve it. I am truly very happy for you and I will always love you.

If you have a story about living the military lifestyle and would like to share it, please email your submission to [email protected].

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