This past March, we embarked on a 3,000-mile road trip from Virginia to Texas, in order to check things out as a family before we made the commitment that we would move south. My goal was that at the conclusion of the trip, we would have 12 enthusiastic thumbs up. Seeing as we're now in Texas, I'd say the trip was a success. But the highlight of the entire trip was a surprise detour we made on our way home.
Now I may have mentioned that my nephew, Tommy, enlisted in the military last year. After thinking that he might go to the Naval Academy, he surprised us all - his mother especially - by deciding that he would instead become a combat medic in the Army. And so it is, he headed off to basic training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma last August, a mere week after he was with us for our 20-year anniversary on Nantucket.
My children adore their cousin Tommy. So during his time at basic training, they wrote him several letters, telling him how proud they were of their big cousin:
And they drew him many a picture of encouragement:
Tommy wrote them back:
And also included pictures of encouragement:
To this very day, William still does 100 sit-ups every night, because he knows that Tommy is doing it, too, and he pledged to his cousin that he'd be working out with him. Following Halloween, the kids talked to several of their friends about donating candy, and we shipped off a package to Tommy that weighed nearly 10 pounds and the parents all agreed, if it had stayed in our houses - would have resulted in us gaining 50 pounds. It's a mass / caloritic ratio mystery ... so yay for 18-year old metabolism and intense PT activities every day!
On our trip home from Texas, we had a bead on Nashville, Tennessee. Our plan was that we'd make a stop and check out a show at the Grand Ole' Opry ... because as luck would have it, The Charlie Daniel's Band was playing.
In the midst of our road trip planning exercises, I received a text message from my sister, Eileen, and she asked where we were. When I told her that we were heading to Nashville, she excitedly wrote to me that Tommy was at Fort Campbell, Kentucky - which was only an hour away. And so it is, Charlie and I made the immediate decision that we would forego Charlie Daniel's and drive to Kentucky. The kids meanwhile, were oblivious to all of this. We just told them that because it was Tuesday, we'd be having a day of fun "T's".
For lunch, we'd have turkey with iced tea. And then, we would drive through Tennessee, and stop by the T-Rex museum. For dinner, we would have a T-bone. But alas, on our way to the T-Rex museum, we started having terrible car trouble. Or so the kids thought. Little did they know, the best "T" surprise was in store.
Here's what happened next (pardon my totally obnoxious voice - I was just so excited!):
On this Veteran's Day ... my heartfelt gratitude goes to the young and old who faithfully, courageously, and willingly serve our country.
We love you, cousin Tommy. Please (please, please, please x infinity) stay safe out there.