Tomorrow, I'll be re-joining a search that's been going on now for eight days. This will be my fourth full day on this mission, as our SAR team and other teams from around the state of Arizona, the Forest Service, Civil Air Patrol, DPS and a number of other individuals and organizations search for a man who went missing when he left for a customary short ATV ride in the area of his rural second home. (You can read more on that story as well as comments from the missing man's friends and family on my blog, Deb's Search & Rescue Stories). Many of my teammates also have spent multiple days participating in this mission, and many of those volunteers have families of their own waiting for them at home.
So I've been thinking a lot lately about the sacrifices that SAR spouses and children often make and really appreciating my husband for his support, not to mention the interest he takes in my never-ending stories.
Which made me take special notice of an excerpt from a book I'm currently reading, Mountain High, Mountain Rescue by Peggy Parr, published in 1987 but very much applicable to today's SAR experience (other than perhaps the number of women who participate). She writes:
"The patience of a husband or wife at home is often forgotten, yet this is a vital ingredient to the team's accomplishments in the field. Since so few women join and most are single, a spouse is usually a woman. The team often rates high in a husband's life--a wife detests the orange shirt as her competition--however, "the other woman" is a mission.
Sleeping spouses, unmoved by adrenaline, are awakened in the depth of night by a pager's piercing tone giving an emergency message ... and subjected to the noise of frantic dressing and departure. If the spouse wants the car, chauffeuring is necessary. During the day the tone shatters silence at the sermon, the movie and the restaurant. Dinners turn cold, picnics are cancelled, guests are left waiting. Bachelors should contemplate this neglect a spouse suffers.
After a mission, the spouse is forced to listen to endless phone calls from other members, where details are dissected like a frog. Gear is spread across the floor as in a garage sale. Two-hundred-foot nylon ropes are cleaned in the washing machine, and hang for days drying in spaghetti coils from the basement ceiling.
The spouse tolerates these annoyances with a patience worthy of sainthood. Members are aware of these qualities, for we take their spirit with us always."
Amen to that.