The other day I brought my younger son and his friend to the Club Hood swimming pool. As I was setting up my “lounging station,” I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between two youngish moms with their kids in tow.
One of them mentioned they had recently moved to Fort Hood and went on to confess that she didn’t like it here at all and wished they could go back to South Carolina or maybe it was Georgia. The other woman responded but I couldn’t hear what she said.
There were a number of things I wanted to tell this lady. When our family first rolled into Killeen on that sizzling July day nearly three years ago, I was not a happy camper. I felt like one of the reality stars on “Married at First Sight” when the couple met at the altar and the bride later confessed to the cameras that she wasn’t remotely attracted to her new husband. Same with me and the Great Place.
We had turned in to the east gate from Fort Hood Street and I honestly thought I couldn’t dislike a place more. I wanted to tell this gal that if she is a little bit patient and gives Fort Hood a chance, she may just discover that it will become one of the best assignments ever for her and her family.
That she will very likely meet incredible people who will develop into lifelong friends and that they will be the kind of friends you can call up at the last minute to borrow a crucial ingredient or ask to let your dog out because you’re in Austin and didn’t plan to stay so long or that you have to vent about something right this moment.
In fact, two or three years down the road, she might find herself bawling at her dear friend’s farewell luncheon, like yours truly just did.
I wanted to say that there are so many ways to contribute your time and talents here through volunteering as well as career opportunities, not to mention affordable colleges to advance your education. That her kids will have caring, committed teachers who go out of their way to make learning interesting and fun.
I wanted to tell her that Army tradition runs strong and true at Fort Hood and that the many units here are full of history and pride.
I ultimately wanted to tell her, please give this big, hot, sprawling, slightly unruly, rough-and-tumble post a chance because you just may fall in love with it, Fort Hood Street and all. But I didn’t say a word.
Partially because I didn’t want them to know I was listening to their conversation but mainly because she needs to learn all of this for herself. I know I did.
As their conversation ended, the lady who just moved here gave a long sigh, picked up her toddler son and stepped into the pool. I couldn’t help but feel just a wee bit wistful at all that awaits her and hoped her opinion of this new duty station would soon change.
I didn’t expect that mine would, nor could I have ever imagined three years passing by so quickly.
Now our time here is rapidly dwindling to weeks.
I have talked about our upcoming move to Virginia in early August, shortly after my husband redeploys. Although Fort Eustis promises many good things for us — not the least of which is actual family members living in the area—my heart will be heavy when we pull out of our shady Old Patton driveway for the last time.
Sadly, this will be my final column for the Killeen Daily Herald.
I have been so lucky to share slices of my crazy life in this newspaper each week and am grateful to have had the opportunity — thank you for reading. And please do me a favor: If you happen to meet newly-arrived military families out and about in the Killeen area, remember that they may be struggling to adjust and get settled. (I’ll never forget the kindness we were shown when we first arrived. We were eating dinner at “The Gin” restaurant in Belton and were unexpectedly treated to a free meal by the mayor and his wife.) Picking up a family’s restaurant tab isn’t necessary, however. Just a friendly word or two goes a long way, and maybe a “thank you for your service.”
Take care, y’all.