Month: May 2013

Goodbye and Thank You, Wolf Pack

Here it is.  Close to the end of my time in Korea.  It’s my last night in Gunsan.  My last night with the Wolf Pack, the 8th Fighter Wing.  For those unfamiliar with the Air Force and the legacy of the Wolf Pack, click here.  This place is truly unique within the Air Force, a place with morale and a camaraderie I’ve never seen.  It’s unlikely I will see it again.

So, now it’s time for the obligatory sentimentalities.

First, I want to thank everyone who has been part of the Wolf Pack since 2010 for making my time here so memorable and fun.  Thank you for all the experiences, and for allowing me to serve you while you were here.  Thank you for the opportunity to learn more about my career field, and giving me insight into our younger Air Force demographic.  The information I have learned from you is invaluable to me as a marketer.

Next, thank you to my wonderful staff in the Marketing department.  You already had the tools to be great marketers, and you were already using them.  I hope that I was able to teach you new things and to use those tools in new ways.  Keep using those tools and concentrating on your talents, and learning new talents.  You have taught me so much as a supervisor and Marketing Director, and I hope I was able to teach you half as much as you taught me.  I have no doubt you will continue to do well, and that you will continue to do great things.  Thank you for the teamwork and the friendship for the last three years.

For all the close friends I’ve made here: thank you so much for welcoming me into your life and for letting me get to know you.  I have never met such a diverse group of people who are so willing to go out on a limb and make new friends.  One of the effects, I think, of being Wolf Pack.  Many of you have such limited time here, and to make the time go faster and easier, you have to make friends fast.  And many of these friendships will last a lifetime.  This is the bond that forms with Wolf Pack.  Thank you all for simply being my friend and accepting me as I am.  You are by far the most open minded and accepting people I have come across in my life.  And a lot of you have become a surrogate family.  Much love to you all.

Tomorrow, I will drive away from the Wolf Pack for the final time, and I will be thinking of all of you and the memories created here in this remote location, where everyone works and plays together.  Where some of the best memories of my life were formed.  I have no doubt I will be fighting back tears as I see the 8th Fighter Wing grow smaller in the rear view mirror.  Please know I will miss you all dearly, and that you have made a huge impact on me personally and professionally.  And you all have my most sincere and heartfelt respect.  No one does it better than you.

So, until we meet again some other place and time: Defend the Base, Accept Follow on Forces, Take the Fight North.

Take care of each other, Wolf Pack.

-Sara

 

Irony

So…I’ve found myself wrestling with something over the past few days since I received my orders from the Air Force to return to the United States.  For the first time in 12.5 years, I will be living on U.S. soil again.  What keeps rolling around in my mind is that I’ll be touching down in my home state of California the day before the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.  It’s irony at its best.

My mother was not thrilled at the idea of me moving to England 12-and-a-half years ago, but she understood I had to go.  I was married to my first husband at the time, and he served in the Air Force.  When the Air Force tells you to go somewhere, you don’t really have much of a choice.  And my mother told me at the time, “Sara, I am your past, not your future.  Your future is your husband.”  I know it was very difficult for her to say those words, but my mom was completely selfless in a lot of ways.

After my first husband and I separated and I decided to stay in England, mom pretty much said the next thing.  Sure, she would have loved for me to move back home. What mother wouldn’t want her baby close to her? But again, she said, “I am your past, not your future.  Live your life.  This is the woman I raised you to be.”  And again, I know it was very difficult for her to say that.  I know she meant it, but I also knew she wanted me to come home.  She agreed with my point of view that staying in England was a once in a lifetime deal.  Never again would I have the opportunity to live there.  So, I stayed.  And we talked on the phone at least two or three times per week. For hours on end.

When I started applying for Marketing Director jobs, there were many places I considered applying.  I knew the position at Travis Air Force Base (near my mother) wasn’t available, so I applied stateside with other branches of the military, and I applied overseas with the Air Force.  When the job here in Korea was offered to me, I called my mom, and for the THIRD time, she told me, “I am your past, not your future.  This is your dream job. I want you to take it.  Yes, I would love to have you home, but you are a grown woman and I am so proud of the woman you’ve become.  Live your life.”  And for the third time, I knew saying that had to be excruciating to her.  Again…the most selfless woman I’ve ever known.  I know she wanted me home then as much as she did before, but I also knew (because mom often told me so) that if I gave up my goal to be a Marketing Director and career woman, I’d never hear the end of it.  More than wanting me home with her, my mom wanted me to be successful and happy.  Mom told me all the time, especially after she had her  first stroke and got sick, that if I packed things up and moved home to be with her or take care of her, she’d never speak to me again.  She flat out told me she would be disappointed in me.  That it wasn’t the life she wanted for me.  People assumed I was selfish in my choices to stay overseas and strive to attain my goal.  Here’s the thing:  I didn’t just do it for me.  I also did it for her.  Because she was so proud of me.  Because she wanted that for me.  Because I couldn’t stand to disappoint her.  And because I knew above all else that I was becoming the woman she had always wanted me to be.

So here I am getting ready to move back to the U.S.  I’m not moving to California, but I’m moving to a nearby state.  I’m not going there with my career in mind, for the first time.  I’m going because that is where my husband’s career is taking us.  Above all else, I support him and his career choices and prospects.  But, here I am 12 years later finally moving home to the states.  So close to the first anniversary of mom’s death.  I can’t help but wonder why life didn’t take another turn and I didn’t find the opportunity for my career to progress in the states.  Why I couldn’t have gotten home sooner so I could have spent more time with mom before her passing.  I guess if I did find a job in her area, I wouldn’t have had the same life.  I would never have met my husband.  I would never have met my future.  And mom would tell me the same thing now as she did with my first husband, “I am your past; not your future.  Your husband is your future.”

I love my mom, no matter what some people may say.  Do I feel selfish sometimes for following a career path that kept me overseas for so long?  Of course I do.  But I also know my mother never would have forgiven me if I’d passed on those opportunities.  And now that I’m headed back to the states, a part of me feels that it’s too little too late, regardless of what my mother wanted for me in life.  I feel a pang in my heart much like a dagger because I wasn’t able to get home in time to be able to see mom more frequently.  But…no matter what, I’m finally on my way there.  And I know mom is looking at me from wherever she is and thinking, “I’m happy you’re coming home and that you have this new life ahead of you.  I am your past, not your future.”

So…I guess I’ll end this with the immortal words of Ozzy Osbourne…”Mama, I’m coming home.”  I just wish you were still here to see it.

In frith,

SaraKitty