Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Thinking about home

I graduated from high school in May, 1964, and reported to the Air Force Academy as a cadet in the Class of 1968 on June 29. It wasn't my first time away from home, but it was the most significant. Unfortunately a boxing accident and some incidents involving my family helped to send me to the hospital there the first of December, and I didn't finish out the year. That accident was the first of many that led to my current disability.

Going back home in December, I found I no longer was satisfied with my rural community, and re-entered the Air Force in June, 1965. After that, my trips 'home' were few, and mostly lasted less than two weeks.

I married a very wonderful Denver girl in 1966, and that made trips home even more rare - now we had two households to split our meager free time between (usually while moving from one end of the country to the other, or overseas). Military service took my family and I to many far-away places - far away from both Denver and Tioga - that small town north of Pineville in central Louisiana where I spent my youth. We called Colorado Springs, CO, Enid, Oklahoma, Alamogordo, New Mexico, Bellevue, Nebraska, and Sumter, South Carolina, "home" for various lengths of time ranging from eight months to two years or more. We also spent many years outside the United States in Wiesbaden, Germany, and Raunds, in the United Kingdom. At two points in our married life, my wife and I lived in different places - her in Denver and Colorado Springs, me in Panama the first time and Saigon, Vietnam, the second.

Jean and I saw a large part of our world between 1966 and 1991, when I finally retired from the Air Force. We were faced with a dilemma about where to live after we retired - Denver was "home", but we didn't like the way the city had grown so huge. We wanted a small town, but my (and her) physical problems required that we live near hospitals, and preferably military hospitals. Events forced us into Colorado Springs, and it's been "home" for us longer than anywhere else, but we're still not comfortable here.

Going back to Louisiana wasn't an option, either, as we both had the early signs of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which doesn't do well in a hot, damp climate. We're also both terminally addicted to the view of high mountains and wide-open vistas.

We're also isolated from our extended families. Jean's parents used to live in Littleton, about 60 miles up the Interstate from Colorado Springs. Medical issues forced them to move five years ago. Jean's sister lives in a town north of Denver, but it's 90 miles from here, through the worst traffic in the state. Jean's other sibling, a brother, lives in Ruston, Louisiana. That's a two-day drive at best.

My extended family is spread from western Tennessee through Louisiana to somewhere in northern California. There's still a small nucleus around where I spent my early years, in Tioga, Louisiana, but my brother and his family live in Texas, and my favorite cousins live in Nevada, Arizona, California, Arkansas and Louisiana.

My wife and I have made friends wherever we lived. Those friends today are scattered from Germany to Guam. My wife has a few classmates she still enjoys visiting in Denver, and some of my graduating class still live in Louisiana, but most of the people that were important to us in our early years have moved to virtually every state in the Union, and a few foreign countries.

Today's society is mobile to an extent no other society in the entire history of mankind has been. We can move to any point on the globe in a matter of days, and have all our baggage - including most of our household good - arrive within weeks. Americans - both from the United States and Canada - live in more different places than the British at the height of the British Empire. Even better, when we move abroad, we can return just as easily. Frequently, posting to distant British colonies were for life, and the majority of those that took such posts never returned to England.

Wherever we go, there will always be a central spot that we consider "home" - usually where we and our parents lived when we were younger. It's never the same, however, when you go back - things change, and the world that was is gone forever. Yet we consider those spots more precious than any other. To our oldest daughter, "home" is a certain part of Wiesbaden, Germany. To our son, it's Littleton, Colorado. To our youngest, it's Colorado Springs. This brings up a dilemma - where, really is "home"? The debate finally settled on "wherever Mom and Dad are".

That's how it's worked out for our extended family, as well - home is where the family, as a whole, gets together to celebrate that uniqueness that marks us as a family. Wherever that is is "home". Thankfully, with the Internet, we can all keep in touch much easier than the British families that sailed to those distant Colonies!


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