News: Mother’s Day without Dad: Coping with husband’s deployment
Story by Sgt. Mark Kauffman
FORT BLISS, Texas – Emelita Rodriquez, who goes by Melit, is a mother of two children and a wife of a deployed soldier in Afghanistan.
Melit’s husband, Sgt. Fausto Rodriquez, assigned to the 978th Military Police Company, has been deployed since Feb 23, 2012 and has already missed one child’s birthday and now Mother’s Day with more to be missed.
This is the first deployment the Rodriquez family has had to deal with. Although missing him, his family is coping and surviving by staying busy.
While she was talking to her husband on the phone the day before Mother’s Day, the door bell rang. She answered the door and signed for a package. Inside the package was a bouquet of multi-colored roses, a Mother’s Day present from her husband. She thanked her husband for the beautiful flowers before telling him to be safe and have a good night.
When the Rodriquez’s arrived to Fort Bliss more than a year ago, Melit started applying for jobs both on post and throughout El Paso. A few months later, they found out that Fausto was going to deploy to Afghanistan. Since then she has prayed every day for a job.
The day her husband deployed, Melit received a phone call from Logan Heights’ Child Development Center for an interview and she has been working there ever since. As an added bonus, her children can attend the CDC while she works.
“I love working here,” said Melit. “It is really what I need to keep my mind off of Fausto and what he is going through.”
The first couple of weeks were the toughest for Melit. Several times she was caught crying by her daughter, Denise, 4.
“Don’t cry mommy, daddy will be home soon,” said Denise.
Her children, Denise and Fausto Jr., 2, have done remarkably well with the deployment of their father. Melit has put up extra pictures of Fausto around the house so her children do not forget their father.
The children were also given “Daddy dolls,” a doll with a picture of Fausto’s face inserted in place of the doll’s face. The dolls happen to be Denise’s and Junior’s favorite toy.
“When I drop off Junior at his classroom and he doesn’t have his daddy doll, he will start crying,” said Melit. “But as soon as he gets his daddy doll, he stops crying.”
Fausto has also utilized the United Service Organization’s United Through Reading Military Program and sent his children a couple of books and a DVD with him reading the books.
“The kids were very surprised when they received a package from their father,” said Melit. “They will sit there in front of the computer and read along with him.”
Melit’s responsibility multiplied when Fausto deployed. Paying the bills and driving to the grocery store were tasks that Fausto usually took care of.
“I never paid bills when Fausto was here,” said Melit. “But with him gone, I am learning how to do a lot of things I normally wouldn’t do.”
To keep even busier, Melit has sent her husband eight care packages just to let him know that he is being missed and making him the envy of his unit.
“He tells me that his friends think that I am the world’s best wife,” said Melit, with a big smile. “I want him to know how much I love him and that he is missed very much.”
Even though there is a 10.5 hour time difference between El Paso and Afghanistan, Melit and Fausto make an effort to talk every day and some days they are fortunate enough to talk twice.
By the time Fausto returns home, he will have missed some holidays and all of their birthdays, but he will be home for Thanksgiving.
Both Melit and Fausto are doing fine away from each other but they would be doing even better together.