Tuesday, November 09, 2004


(or, let’s discuss some other inane regional colloquialisms)

Week #13 of LTM

I appear to be having an identity crisis.

Wait, let me say that in a way that will be more clear to my friends back home: “Ya’ll, I’m fixin’ to have an identity crisis!”

This is a problem that plagues military families fairly often, I believe. Blaine and I are on our 8th military assignment (11 moves total) in 17 years of marriage. In the military, when people ask “Where are you from?” the question they usually get in return is “Do you mean where is my *home*? Or where were we stationed before here?” -- Because everyone knows those are two totally separate things.

We’re from Oklahoma --- where *is* that, exactly? To the people we met when we were stationed in California, it’s in the east. To the people we met when we were stationed in Alabama, it’s in the west. To the people here in Georgia, Oklahoma is definitely NOT the South, and to the friends we made in Ohio, it’s definitely NOT the North. I say “ya’ll” and “fixin’ to” …. and then I get funny looks in local restaurants here when I ask for “pop”.

When my kids are “ill”, that means they are sick. When Georgia kids are “ill”, that means they are acting like brats. Did you know that when people from the South “carry” someone, that means they are driving them somewhere? And in North Dakota, it’s common to get an invitation to “go with” …. as in, “I’m going to the mall, do you want to go with?” (I never *did* get used to that one … proper grammar, in my opinion, is “I’m fixin’ to go to the mall, do you want to go with me?” Ha!)

For military folk, this is the time of year when NEXT year’s pcs’s (permanent change of stations, for you non-government types) are being announced. In the past few weeks, three of my friends have found out they are moving. All the moves were expected, no big surprise there; it’s the anticipation of *where* that makes it such an exciting and stressful time. Where are you moving, and how different will it be?

But not us. We’re going big fat nowhere. After two years in Georgia, we were slated to move last summer. It’s rare to stay anywhere more than two years, and Blaine had been chosen for a job in Copenhagen, of all places. Up to that point, our personal motto could have been: "Join the Air Force, See the Midwest". Can you imagine Copenhagen??? My geography is pretty terrible, but I’m almost sure that’s not even in the United States!!!

Instead, we got a 26-month pass to Leukemia-Land. The first thing we did, after getting Kendrie started on her treatment and reclaiming our sanity, was to request a one-year extension here in Georgia. We wanted Kendrie to finish as much of her treatment as possible in one location. Luckily for us, a proverbial good-luck break landed right in Blaine’s camo-clad lap and thanks to a new job, he was extended here for TWO additional years. So she’ll get to finish ALL of her treatment with the same doctor -- who we love -- which thrills us to no end. Also, my kids will get FOUR years in the same school system -- military parents everywhere are shaking their heads in awe and disbelief!

It does make me wonder about my kids, though. Brayden, born in Oklahoma, is a Sooner born and a Sooner bred. And when she dies she’ll be Sooner dead. (Hey, I didn’t make that up, it’s the words to the actual song.) Kellen, born in California, the quintessential Beach-Boy surfer dude? Nope, he prefers pools to the ocean. And Kendrie, born in Ohio -- a Buckeye, of all things? After four years in Georgia, aren’t they all a little bit peach-ish?

The down side to staying in Georgia for four years is watching the friends we have made here move on … and move away. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful beyond belief that we are staying here. Even when the summer ants are invading my home and the gnats from the nearby peach orchards are driving me crazy and the humidity is three thousand percent in July, I am grateful to be here, and to stay at Scottish Rite. But who will be left to invite, when the time comes to plan Kendrie’s off-treatment party? Many of the people who rallied ‘round us in the beginning are no longer here, which makes me a little sad. I'ts a bizarre, unusual feeling to be "left behind" in the military. Of course, it's also a bizarre, unusual feeling to be told your 4-yr old has cancer, so you'd think I'd be getting used to it, wouldn't you? :)

And I wonder if I’m losing my identity as a cancer patient’s mom, now that Kendrie no longer looks sick. She’s gone from the hideous “chemo-falling out hair” to “little bald kid” to “what a cute pixie cut” to “dear Lord lady, can’t you do something with that kid’s hair?”

She woke up this morning with her first official case of bed head!!! (Trust me, it was a cause for celebration as far as I’m concerned!) But people see her, looking good and doing well, and they forget she has cancer. I get asked fairly often, “You mean she’s still on chemotherapy?” Trust me, if a bald head was the only indicator of illness, then both her grandpa’s have WAY more to worry about than she does!

Despite the oddness of four years in one location, we are still a military family. Despite the pink cheeks and healthy appetite and boundless (freakin’ boundless!) energy level, she is still a child with cancer. I still panic when she complains of back pain, like she has done every day this week. She still had to take her eight and a half pills before bed tonight, two hours after dinner and one hour before bed and no milk or dairy for two hours in either direction despite the steroid craving for grilled cheese sandwich that the parent has to deny.

I know the day will come again when our biggest stress factor will be an upcoming move, and the anxiety and excitement of how will we like our new home, and how different things might be. Until then, my message to the state of Georgia is “Thanks, ya’ll, for being a decent place to get stuck for four years!” Even if I am having an identity crisis from being in one place so long.

Hope you all have a great night,

Kristie, who isn’t quite sure where she belongs, but she’s fixin’ to go to bed and quit worrying about it!



My back is hurting me. I can’t imagine it’s from my back poke -- that was seven days ago! It’s most likely simple growing pains, and I’m tired of the look of worry on my mom’s face every time I ask for the purple medicine. Can’t she just give me the medicine and leave me alone? She doesn’t have to worry about her place as a military wife; she’s got a full-time job as a worry-wart!


I got an envelope from my cousin Paxton who lives in Texas, with her Pennies for Patients money! It is a donation for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and I think it’s great that she did the work and collected the money and sent it to me. Thanks, Paxton!

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