It struck me today that the last five years have passed in the blink of an eye. So much has happened, so much has changed, five years gone. What have I accomplished? What has been gained?
What has been lost?
In the fall of '09 (where I shall begin this tale) The Missus Herself and The WSO had availed themselves of a sale at our local Navy Exchange. (Which The Missus Herself insisted on referring to as "the BX" for many a year after we left Uncle Sam's Aerial Frolics. BX is short for Base Exchange, something the Army types call a Post Exchange, or PX. Confused? No? Yes, this is a digression. While not key to the story, it is interesting.)
So the senior and the junior human females in the Tribe of the Sarge returned from the NEX with...
What? Oh, yeah, NEX short for Navy Exchange. You know how we military types are about acronyms. Sorry.
So yes, the ladies returned from the NEX on a brisk Saturday in the fall of '09 with a rather largish plasma TV ensconced athwart the backseat of the old Sarge-mobile. (Which was a '97 Dodge Stratus, all in black it was, very sporty he was.)
"Wow!" I exclaimed, "whaddaya got there my fair ladies? 'Tis a TV for to grace the living room of Chez Sarge methinks?"
"No Dad, it's for The Nuke," spake the youngest of the tribe.
"Forsooth! Cannot The Nuke purchase her own television? She being an officer in the Naval Service of substantial means." I protested.
With that gaze I have mentioned before, my beloved flower from the Land of the Morning Calm looked at me, and said...
"You're an idiot."
Shaking her head she explained that as Christmas was coming and that we were traveling down to Norfolk for the holiday, she (and The WSO) had decided that this was a perfect gift for our oldest daughter, what with it being on sale and all.
So yes, we did go to Norfolk for that Christmas. Prior to that time though I was informed that the year of 2010 would find me far to the North, away from my hearth and home.
Business was bad, many would become jobless, many would be loaned out.
Though annoying, the prospect of continuing to draw a paycheck in the face of a corporate drawdown was a small price to pay for being in exile for a big chunk of each week.
So we went to Norfolk for Christmas, hauling that bloody great plasma television through the snows of Delaware and down the DELMARVA peninsula, sighting the lights of Virginia Beach across the dark waters of Chesapeake Bay on a dark December eve.
It was the last Christmas we spent with our single daughters. While there we met The Nuke's future (and now former) husband and reacquainted ourselves with future son-in-law Big Time. Within the next twelve months, both girls would be married.
Back to Little Rhody we went, there to spend a few more days before setting sail for Andover in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to begin my exile in the North.
Within the first week there, had a phone call announcing a pregnancy in the tribe. Went home early that week.
Within the month I learned that my Dad was ill, very ill. The last time I talked to him was from a hotel room in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. By the end of February he was gone.
The spring of 2010 was a painful blur. My Father was dead, I was all at sea, rudderless. The pain slowly faded.
The summer of 2010 arrived.
In August, our first granddaughter, Little Bit was born. The Missus Herself and I had traveled down to Virginia Beach for that blessed event. Of course, the wee bairn came a day after I had to go back to work.
On the bright side Big Time, though his carrier (USS ENTERPRISE) was out at sea, his skipper and his CAG let him bring a bird back to Oceana so he could be there when his daughter was born. After a couple of days, back to sea he went. But at least he got to be home for her birth.
Christmas of 2010 was exciting and fun. Both daughters and their husbands were aboard Chez Sarge for the festivities as was the youngest member of the tribe, Little Bit. Well, it was fun for everybody but The Nuke, she spent the majority of Christmas Day fighting a very nasty stomach bug. Which in the spirit of the holidays she shared with me. Boxing Day of 2010 was perhaps the most miserable day I'd had in quite some time.
But, that passed. As did the holiday.
2010 wound down and 2011 arrived. With me still "up North" on my "one year" assignment. As there was still very little work at the Home Office (the one where I work, not the one in London) I was semi-content to remain in the North. Once again, that paycheck coming in every two weeks was incentive enough to quell my complaints.
2011 was very much like 2010. We went down to Norfolk to see the girls, their husbands and our granddaughter, always fun. Though that time we flew down instead of driving. While the whole airport experience can be a colossal pain in the nether regions, it still is the fastest way to get somewhere. And I do love to fly, once I'm in the air and gazing out my window, I'm in a different world. So I have that going for me.
For Christmas of 2011, the girls, with husbands and child in tow, again came to Chez Sarge to celebrate the birth of Our Lord. This year was even better, The Naviguesser, The DIL and The Big O traveled all the way from California for to join the rest of the tribe. It was a full house, it was a grand old time.
2012 dawned, again I was Up North. For those keeping score at home, 2011 was the second year of my"one year" assignment. 2012 was the start of the third.
Again, the paycheck coming in every fortnight was appreciated, though I was growing weary of life "on the road."
In March of 2012...
Well, let's just say that we lost a man I called friend. A man admired and respected by many. Those who have been visiting here for a while know of whom I speak. Those new to the blog, well ask around. There are clues everywhere on the blog itself.
As I spent the spring of 2010 in mourning for my Dad. I spent the spring of 2012 mourning for my friend. I'm beginning to dread the even-numbered years. (In the spring of 2014 I lost another friend to depression. My buddy Fred died in 2008. See what I mean about the even-numbered years?)
But like George Harrison sang, "all things must pass..."
My exile did as well. I was called home in August of 2012. It was good to be back, though passing strange in many ways. But I adjusted, I settled back into a routine.
Then in September of 2012 a new, bright light came into the world in the form of our newest granddaughter. She of the wise and oh so big eyes. So of course, I dubbed her The Owl. So now I had three grandchildren. Three! Man, I'm getting old!
The year passed, Christmas of 2012 was spent with friends rather than family. Though I enjoy the former, I love the latter. You may well guess that Christmas of 2012 was a less than excellent experience. Just another day in many ways. It was alright, I guess.
But 2012 passed into history. 2013 dawned.
And in the spring of that year...
I was back on the road. Different facility but in near enough proximity to the former place of exile so that I could stay at the same hotel. They knew me there and treated me very well. I do mean very well. Like visiting royalty.
Looking back at 2013, I remember being Up North, but I also remember the Boston Marathon bombing. Where two cowardly little shits murdered four people and injured dozens more. A friend lost someone close to her. A co-worker lost her leg.
Sometime in the swirl of those years Big Time had two combat tours on the Big E, flying the not-so-friendly skies of Afghanistan. Bringing in ordnance to support friendlies in contact with the enemy on more than one occasion. One time flying through a hail storm to deliver the goods. Bad guys pounded, friendlies saved, Big Time in hock for "hazarding his aircraft." Cooler, non-sissy heads intervened, investigation proved it was a righteous move on Big Time's part.
Okay, he scratched the paint on an expensive aircraft. The men he assisted on the ground had no problem with his actions. Neither did the CAG. Kudos to our folks wearing the wings of gold!
Now here it is almost the end of 2014. I ask myself, where did the last five years go. So much happened, yet it all seems so long ago. The years are a blur.
They say that as you get older, time goes faster. I'm sure it's an illusion.
But where are the flowers of those years, I ask myself as I gaze upon the last roses of this summer.
Where are those days, those weeks, those months?
Long time gone.
A lament seems to be in order. This is piobaireachd (literally piping), or Ceòl Mòr (the great music), the classical music of the great Highland bagpipe.