Editor’s Note: Why I Never Say Goodbye first appeared in Military Brats Online on July 21, 2009
As Military Brats we learned early in life that the friends you have at the moment might be gone tomorrow.
While it was exciting to learn that your best friend or a classmate was going to Taiwan, Georgia, Turkey or who knows where, it was also a way of telling someone that your friendship was ending.
I can’t remember ever telling anyone, “Goodbye” as I was growing up, but do remember sharing my excitement about my Dad’s orders and what little I knew about the next place we would be living.
I used to think that my friends were still at the last place I had lived, and would still be there, if only my dad would get orders to send us back.
Later realized that they were moving on too, like a giant shell game, and you never knew where anyone would end up in the future.
Once in a while you might cross paths with a friend from school or the housing area you lived in.
This happened to me when my Dad was in Viet Nam and we lived in Columbus, Georgia. I was riding the public school bus and thoroughly hating being the only Military Brat on board the bus, when my former classmate and someone I would ride bikes with at Biggs Airfield (in El Paso) Texas, stepped onto the bus.
While we did not have any classes together at the Junior High we attended, it was good to meet up with a fellow Military Brat on the bus and at least know I was not alone.
“So Long,” instead of Goodbye
I remember well when, after graduation from high school, I worked for the better part of a year to save money so I could move out and go back to Columbus in 1975.
I was the second oldest of four kids, and I could tell my dad was struggling to keep his composure as my family saw me off at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. By this time I knew that saying Goodbye” meant you would not see the person again.
My dad gave me a vise-like hand shake and said, “So long, son,”
Thinking back about it, I am sure he said the same thing to a lot of the men he served with during his 24 year career.
Today, I never say, “Goodbye” because it has such a finality about it.
However, “so long,” or “See you later,” or “Until we meet again,” sound much more appropriate.
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