As a military wife of almost 24 years, I still don’t like saying goodbye to the friends I’ve made at each post. My children aren’t fans of this military tradition, either. Our oldest son, James, has lived in nine homes, and has already attended 12 schools. He has made some great friends at each of these military postings, and has had to say goodbye to all of them at some point.
I grew up in the same house, from birth until I left for college. Very few of my friends ever left the town in which we lived. If a friend moved, it was usually to another neighboring town, to attend a rival school. I remember when one boy moved from our town in Wisconsin all the way to Texas. It was as if he had moved to another planet. Very few of us ever heard from him for a few years, until his father’s company moved him back to Wisconsin. Occasionally someone in our group would get a phone call from him, and then pass along any stories he shared with the rest of us.
My son’s friends move all the time, to all corners of the planet. He rarely uses his phone to talk with his friends. Instead he uses his phone to message and send photos through Facebook and other social media platforms. Within a matter of seconds he can snap a photo of what he’s doing, process the photo, and then immediately send it to his friends. This fascinates me.
When I was his age, our phones were cool if they had a cord long enough to reach into another room. While I kept up with faraway friends through letters and an occasional, expensive long-distance phone call, James never loses touch with his good friends, no matter where in the world they live.
A couple of weeks ago, we were talking with James about his junior prom. He was planning to attend with a very nice group of kids he knows at Fort Hood. My husband joked with him, “Why don’t you ask Andrea if you could take her to her prom?”
James and Andrea are good friends, having met five years ago at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She now lives in Germany. James immediately sent a Facebook message to Andrea. Even though Andrea was vacationing in Turkey with her family, she almost instantly replied that it would be fun to have James visit them in Germany for prom.
When I realized that James was serious, I went to my computer and sent a Facebook message to Andrea’s mother, Maggie. I asked her if she realized what James and Andrea were discussing, about him attending prom with her daughter in Frankfurt. Maggie reported that Andrea was excited, and that they would all love to have James visit, too. I have been saving money for a while to take James on a trip this summer, and quickly realized that it would instead be spent on buying him a round-trip ticket to prom in Germany.
My husband asked, “Who flies to Germany for prom?” We both looked at each other and replied, “A military child.” Our family and civilian friends might not understand why James is flying to Germany, but this makes sense to most of our military friends. I am very excited for him.
We are fortunate that Army life has allowed us to meet many people with whom we’ve become good friends. We are also thankful for technology that helps us keep in touch with them, no matter where they live.