“Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, brah!” So the Beatles sang way back in 1968 on “The White Album” (I don’t think I purchased it for another 20 years or so).
Yes, “life goes on,” and a lot has transpired since my last article, written after my daughter’s wedding.
It’s been a roller coaster of ups and downs.
My wife and I went to Europe in September—it was her first overseas trip. I spoke at a retreat for US service members, and then we stayed a few extra days. The retreat was in Willingen, Germany, and we explored some of the area between there and Frankfurt, then down to Switzerland (my wife had always wanted to go). We also visited the village of Etobon, France, where some of my wife’s family had lived 250 years ago.
After our return, her mother’s health declined, and we finally said goodbye to her in early November. She was 96.
Then in December, we celebrated my daughter’s graduation with her Master of Science from Texas A&M (“Whoop!”).
And now, I’m anticipating the ending of my 20-year military career (with a fifteen-year break halfway through) on February 28.
This is the point at which life is supposed to slow down, I always thought. But my civilian job will continue, with more travel in the year to come.
Life doesn’t slow down. It just changes. It remains a serious of ups and downs, twists and turns. Some we plan for. Some we anticipate. Some we react to.
My military career will end with a ceremony at the Pentagon (that will actually take place a month after my final day). Kind words will be said. A general will present me with a medal. And that will be it (perhaps humming, “Old Soldiers Never Die”).
And then the page will turn. I’ll continue caring for Soldiers and veterans and their families. I’ll continue to talk about the issues they face. And the uniform will come out for formal occasions.
In the spring we’ll travel to Vermont to intern my mother-in-law’s ashes with her husband in a small rural cemetery north of Rutland.
Life goes on, full of change.
As Robert Frost wrote,
Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour.
We celebrate, we grieve, we plan, we postpone, we prepare, and we react.
But now, perhaps, we have more freedom to say, “What do we want? How shall we spend this time? Is anything still on the ‘bucket list’?”
My wife pipes up, “Back to Switzerland!”
Back to Switzerland. Ob-la-di-bla-da.
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