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The past week and a half have been an absolute whirlwind. Last Monday, we learned that Mom’s hip replacement surgery, which we anticipated taking place this summer, was quickly scheduled for March 7th. During the busiest part of the year for my job, I had just a week to wrap up everything, find replacements for projects I was working on, and all the other things that come with being out of the office for nearly a month. I still had to finish my college class for the sub-term and pack for an extended stay in Kentucky. And amid this chaos, we learned that Andrew was being promoted to Staff Sergeant, so we had to figure out how to squeeze a promotion ceremony in there. (Spoiler warning: we held an unofficial ceremony where I simply replaced his E-5 rank with an E-6 rank, with plans to have an official ceremony with the command team and future soldiers when I return to Iowa.)
I’m so thankful that I can use FMLA time to be off work and take care of Mom. I’m grateful that I have a work environment that was supportive of my need to go home and be Mom’s caretaker despite the inconveniences it causes during the busiest time of the year. (That I was even eligible for FMLA time is a blessing. You’re required to be employed at a company for 12 months and work 1,250 hours, which can be tricky as a military spouse who changes jobs every time we move.) I’m thankful that Andy and I can afford for me to take a few weeks off from work without pay, plus the added expenses that occur every time I travel to Kentucky. I’m thankful that my sweet husband encouraged me to go home, even though taking care of our home + our pets is an additional stressor for him in an already-difficult season due to his current military assignment.
Being back in Kentucky has brought about all the feelings. I was last in the Bluegrass State in August for a friend’s wedding but didn’t visit Owensboro on that trip; the last time I was in my hometown was last February, after Mamaw’s heart attack. It’s fantastic to see how the ‘Boro has blossomed in the past year, with new restaurants and stores and construction everywhere. It feels the same, but different. I’m different. I’m not the same Bailey that I was when we PCSed to Iowa in July 2017.
As difficult as the recovery process will be after Mom’s surgery for her (and me as her caretaker,) I’m reminding myself to cherish it. In the future, I probably won’t be so fortunate as I am now, being able to step aside momentarily from my obligations at our current duty station and my work to go to Kentucky and spend 3 weeks with loved ones.