My dad was retiring from the Air Force after 32 years of service, and so Handsome Hubby and I planned a trip home. It had been five years since I had been there last; not because of a lack of desire, but because well, my husband and I are terrible planners and time goes by oh-so quickly. I was excited to come home, to see everyone, and to show my youngest daughter, Piggles, the town in which I had spent the greater part of my childhood. I'm not sure what I expected, but nothing had changed really; neither the small town, nor the house I had grown up in. Neither did the close bond that exists between my parents, siblings, and me, despite the physical distance between us. It’s the kind of bond most military families understand all too well. My brothers are still brothers. Full-grown men who wrestle as if they're still teenagers, yet my older brother and his beautiful wife came bearing a gift, his four month old son, whom no one in the family had met yet. My daughters also got to see their cousins, who are only months apart in age.
We flew into Minneapolis where we stayed the night with my sister, who graciously welcomed us into her home at midnight even though she had to leave for work in a few hours. We made the long car ride to Wisconsin the next morning, with my niece in tow, arriving at my parent’s just in time to get our nails done (one of my mom’s favorite pastimes) and meet everyone for dinner. We got ready for the retirement ceremony in the hotel the following day, after letting the kids swim for a couple hours. The retirement ceremony went off wonderfully; Handsome Hubby sang the National Anthem and I narrated. My dad’s colleagues spoke beautifully of his expertise and commitment to country and mission. It was immensely fascinating to hear about my dad in a role other than that of well, dad. Needless to say, I was extremely proud of him, and all he had accomplished in his 32 years. He had served his country, and fellow service members, honorably, just as he has his children. My mom orchestrated a very nice retirement party after the ceremony where the kids danced and the adults socialized. For the rest of the weekend we gathered at my parent’s house for some good food and company, went for walks, ate at the local cafe. At one point, the house I grew up in was host to four generations, from my 4 month old nephew to my 91 year old grandmother. Family, retirement celebration, old memories, and new ones…indeed, it was good to be home.