So, today while driving home I suddenly realized that in 15 months we could be starting a new adventure due to Sal retiring, as I was driving I was thinking about how our lives have been for the past 24 plus years and a million memories came flooding through my brain and my eyes started to tear up.
It is bittersweet to me, I have learned SO much from this life we chose to live. There have been good times and bad and MANY lessons learned. Living in the military bubble has not always made for an easy life or easy marriage-there have been big mountains to climb, dissapointments, surprises, excitement, sadness, loss, gifts and a million pride filled moments.
When Sal joined the Army, he had no intention of staying past the 4 years he had signed up for, it was "supposed" to be temporary, just a step into his career field while serving his country. Sal didn't come from a military family and while I did, I was relieved that it wasn't going to be "forever". My dream was to do this for a few years, move to Flagstaff Arizona and build our dream cabin and raise our 10 kids-hahha, seriously. We even bought cabin plans, knew where we wanted to buy our little plot of land, but it wasn't meant to be. The Army showed my then teenage husband what responsibility, loyalty, compassion, pride, integrity and honor meant and once that bug bit, there was no turning back. Reinlistment after reinlistment happened and before we knew it, he was reinlisting indefinately and put him to 20 years of service-Hahahah, not really 20 as he now hit 24 years and still hasn't retired.. Honestly, we love this life. We have met so many AMAZING people that we are proud to call family. We have learned to adapt and roll with the punches and that just when you have things "figured" out, the Army changes it, not always a bad thing. I look at the fast changes as this is where we are meant to be and do, so we roll.
Things I will really miss are the friendships made. In this life you make friends REALLY quickly. You jump in all the way, or you dry up. Not always do you meet friends for life, sometimes you meet friends for now, or you quickly realize that this person isn't meant to be your friend. Our children, Our PRECIOUS "brats" also have to jump into the friendship pool super quickly and adapt to a new surrounding, new fashion, styles, lifestyles, whats cool at the new place and find your niche in a clique and prove yourself YET AGAIN, that you have what it takes to play for a team at the new school. "Brats" also miss sporting seasons because a PCS happens and throws ithe timing out of wack.. It isn't always fun and if they move to a "non military town", you feel like an idiot and not in the loop of the town kids-It's hard for them, but they are brave and good and proud and fight through it and come out a super star-usually. Our children also have to say goodbyes to their dear friends and hope and pray that their mom and dad PCS to where we are going, it does happen sometimes!!! Oh Happy Days, when that happens!!!
I will also miss the safety net of this life, its consistantly inconsistant and you expect the unexpected, it's our normal. I will miss running into the commissary thinking it will be a quick trip and running into 15 people and chit chatting, having some gossip, giving a hug to a spouse who is having a crappy day and hasn't heard from their soldier in 2 weeks. I will miss watching soldiers do PT in formation in the mornings and hearing the roar of the cadence they sing and the pride in their voices. I will miss hearing "yes ma'am, no ma'am" and hearing children NEVER call an adult by their first name, but always saying Miss Cathy, or Mr Shawn, even when the "brats" are in their 20's.
I will really miss all the little things that really aren't so little when you think about it. I am scared to live in a neighborhood that is "regular" I love seeing Rank and Names and Units on the front of the houses on post, I will miss seeing the welcome home daddy/mommy signs all over the place. I will miss the slow drive of the MP car keeping watch over our street and the wave and smile from the MP in the car. I will miss the crazy street names we have seen on over the years- Artillery Road, SGM Christian Fleetwood St, Patriot Parkway, etc. I will truly miss this bubble.
There are things I wont miss too... I wont miss deployments, separations, missed holidays, dinners, bdays and anniversaries. I will NOT miss the middle of the night phone calls, or the holding of breath when the doorbell rings and my soldiers is not home. It will be nice to be around family and friends that aren't military. We love our families and being away from them has always been our biggest struggle. Its hard not being able to just jump in the car and go help them when they need it or missing the birth of new nieces and nephews and grandchildren.
Sal is excited to retire, while the Army and MP CORPS have been a HUGE part of his life, he ready to hand over the reigns to the new crop and watch and see them grow and develop into great NCOs and leaders. I think the last day Sal puts on his ACU's and his training cap, will be a very hard time for him and I am thinking a few tears will be shed- from him!!
― George S. Patton Jr., Patton Principles