On a night when members of our military enjoyed the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo with their families at Reliant Park on "Armed a Forces Appreciation day," there are so many more around the world still away from theirs.
Ann Nicholas from Cypress, a long-time military wife, knows how hard that can be. "It was really hard. I was lonely and tired, lonely for him," she said.
Her husband, Donald, served more than 30 decorated years in the Texas Army National Guard traveling the world. Deployed for many months at a time, Ann was left alone to raise their 3 daughters, and a 4th little girl they adopted when a friend died. "It was hard and I understood as a military wife left behind that he had a job to do and I had a job to do," she said.
Ann's husband knows the sacrifices she made. "She knew what my dreams were. She was taking care of kids, it was a burden on her, a burden I should've eased but every time I left to go do something, she did it," said Donald Nicholas.
She did it - worked and took care of 4 kids - even after being diagnosed with the debilitating disease lupus. "I didn't know what was happening to me I couldn't walk and I was shaking a lot," said Ann.
Now Ann is telling the story of her struggles, and the faith that got her through it, in a book dedicated to all military wives called "Testimony of Deliverance - A Military Wife Left Behind." "It was very hard and how I got through it I had to ask God for the strength I needed to keep it moving. My children was my greatest inspiration because when I looked at my kids I knew I had the strength no matter what," she said. "You have to have a strong woman I can tell you if you don't have a strong woman pulling for you as a military man, you're gonna fall," said Donald.
Now 57 and retired, Ann looks back with pride. All 4 of their children graduated college with Master's degrees. And now she and Donald - together - can enjoy being grandparents. "If they had to tell it I was so hard and so strict on them because I knew I had to do the job by myself and they made it, ha ha ha, they made it," she said.
Ann's book is available at Barnes and Noble Bookstores among other online locations.