After a decade of marriage to an Army officer, Tommie Polizzotti has learned that her life must roll on no matter how much change her husband’s career requires.
She accepted the long hours Maj. Dave Polizzotti worked even before he set out on the first of three deployments. It’s all Tommie has known since they met at a Texas furniture store in the fall of 2000 and started a family.
She misses her husband during his deployments – he’s expected back from Afghanistan in November – but said the upside is that the spark stays alive as they strive to stay connected.
They exchange CrossFit workouts. They read the same books and discuss them later. They email back and forth every night and Skype once a week.
“It’s like we’re in a constant state of dating,” said Tommie, who continues to live at their home at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “I’m not going to dwell on the fact that he’s not here. I need to live my life and if I dwell on (his absence), I’m going to go crazy. We try to stay busy.”
After Dave left on his most recent deployment, Tommie started exercising with a trainer, volunteering at her children’s schools and working toward an online psychology degree.
The couple’s four children have a harder time with the absences.
“It sucks,” 8-year-old Anthony said. “When I heard him say he was going to deploy, I burst into tears. I asked why he couldn’t work at Walmart.”
Anthony proudly sports a camouflage backpack his father had made for him on a deployment to Iraq as a way to keep him close. But what he really wants is his dad to tuck him in at night and throw a football with him.
The oldest child, 15-year-old Jayson, said it’s tough when his dad leaves because he usually keeps him in line academically and serves as a role model.
“It sucks having him deployed but it has an advantage,” Jayson said. “I promised my dad I’d be the man of the house and look after my brothers, so I have more responsibility.”
The kids look forward to their dad’s return and cherish the computer chats they share in the meantime, but they strongly feel his absence. They fill the void by talking about him – how he makes the best pancakes, how conversations at family breakfasts always become a history lesson, how dad always beats them on the Wii.
There’s no doubt the family is sacrificing precious moments so Dave can fulfill his duties to the Army.
He wasn’t present for Anthony’s birth because his first deployment kept being extended. He missed 5-year-old Hunter’s first T-ball game. He can’t help out when his wife has her wisdom teeth removed and just wants to sleep it off.
“It makes the time he is here more special,” Tommie said.