Loss in an Army Brat’s Life

My father joined the Army long before my birth, so being an army brat was all I knew as a child. I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and resided there the first five years of my life.

My brother Bob was also born in Albuquerque. From there we moved to Florida, my mother’s family home. We lived in Florida while my father was stationed in Korea. I think my brother Bill was born shortly after we we left New Mexico.

When my father returned from the Korean war, we were transferred to North Carolina. In the third grade I attended three different schools. Two were in North Carolina and the third was in Pirmasens, Germany. We lived in Germany for four years. After Germany came Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Shafter, Hawaii; and White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. When my father retired from the Army, we moved back to my mother’s hometown, West Palm Beach, Florida.

My mother loved all of the travel opportunities that came with being an army wife. She even took off on her own and traveled parts of Europe by herself. Sometimes she would take us with her.

I don’t know what my brothers felt about being army brats, but I hated it. It was hard for me to make friends when I knew I would be moving soon, or they would be. My mother said my pattern was to have only one best friend and then be crushed when, at some point, that person found another best friend.

My life became centered on reading books. I avidly read series such as The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Cherry Ames. I also treasured single books such as Little Men, Little Women, and What Katy Did. I remember looking forward to the day that I would be able to give my beloved collection of books to my own daughter.

I don’t remember exactly when or where “it” happened. I think it may have occurred when we arrived in Germany and started unpacking the moving boxes. I searched and searched for my books. Where were they? Eventually I went to ask my mother.  Her response: “There was no room for them.” I don’t remember what they did with my books. What I do remember is that I was devastated and pulled even further into my introverted, depressed, pouting self. Of all the losses in my childhood that is still the one I remember the most.

What is the childhood memory, or the childhood loss, that you remember the most?

 

Written for Blogging U’s Writing 101 course Day #4: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

 

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33 thoughts on “Loss in an Army Brat’s Life

    1. No I never did….. but I have thought about putting some of them on my Kindle and seeing what my adult self thinks about them! Cherry Ames is why I became a nurse! 🙂

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  1. Lovely storytelling, I could really feel the sadness of losing a precious part of that childhood “safety” that certain things can bring. Love the colorful photos! 🙂

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    1. Thanks for letting me know my words evoked feelings in you!

      I saw the pictures for the first time about 6 weeks ago. I’m really happy about having them to add to my posts. I think photos make stories so much more real.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  2. I immediately remembered an impactful childhood loss while reading about your loss, Karuna. My sister and I had Siamese cat brothers that we had raised since they were kittens: Ali Baba (“Baba”, my sister’s cat) and Ali Khan (“Ali”, my cat). Baba had been killed by my dad driving over him in our driveway (I realize this is a pretty harsh story, but alas, so it goes). But that was not the greatest loss for me.

    After my parents divorced, I moved to live with my dad and step-mom. My mom, three older siblings, and Ali moved to an apartment. My step-mom did not like cats so wouldn’t allow me to take Ali. When I went on a weekend visit to my mom’s, Ali was gone. They said that he meowed loudly all the time and was distraught after losing his brother and so they took him to the pound. It was a shock and a betrayal of my 11- or 12-year-old trust, hence the powerful memory.

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    1. Those are such big losses. I imagine the second one, like mine, stayed with you so strongly because they didn’t tell you they were going to do it. Knowing ahead of time would have helped at least a little. I appreciate you sharing your memory here.

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  3. Oh, and I too went to three schools in one year! I started Kindergarten in Selah (near Yakima), then moved to Federal Way, and then Kent. Not due to military transfers, but to job changes and general “unsettledness” for my parents at the time. We lived in so many houses growing up that, to this day, my siblings and I refer to them by color (“Remember the white house, the one with the mint green carpet?”).

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    1. I’m impressed that you can remember them at all! I remember a little about the one I lived in in Florida as a teenager and the stairwell in the apartment in Germany but that is it.

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  4. Karuna, I wasn’t an Army brat. But, I was an introverted kid (still maybe today) and loved to read Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, and the Hardys. For sure, I am older than you. But those books continue from generation to generation. All of my books were from the library as a child. But, I managed to find a set of Nancy Drew books for my eldest daughter when she was about 8-years-old at the Salvation Army or someplace like that. She kept them for year;s; and was distraught when my son, thinking she no longer wanted the books, gave them to his teenage girlfriend’s younger sister. The relationship did not last long. Eventually the teenage girlfriend and my daughter became good friends, but she never asked for her to return the books. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. In getting the pictures for the article I think I read that at least one of those series was actually started in the 1930’s. It would be nice to look at their history. Maybe that will be a future post! 🙂

      You aren’t that much older than me. I will be 66 in October.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

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  5. I remember being almost molested by an adult. I rolled out from under the garage door just as it closed. I can imagine had the door closed…

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  6. An Army brat here, who now lives just Northwest of ABQ. Having traveled so frequently in my life, even after my Dad retired, I’ve learned to keep my memories in my head. Too many moves where things ‘disappear.’ Sorry for you loss. 😦

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  7. Karuna, as you know I lived in at least thirty homes by the time I was 18 and went to 14 schools. I like you and Suzanne went to three schools in one year. For me it was Fifth grade. (Tumwater WA, Meridian ID, and Boise ID.) One loss I can remember was a yellow stuffed dog I had when I was 5 or 6. I went to my grandparents’ house and when I came home our dog had chewed up my stuffy. I remember crying for many hours over the loss. I know my mother felt very badly for me, but I don’t remember how she nurtured me.

    Some of the times we had to move we could only take our clothes and a few belongings, and there is a cat I had in Alaska that I do not know what happened to. I still think of him. It took me about 5 years of therapy before I was once again ready to have an animal.

    I wasn’t attached to books until I was in High School and by then there was no way my Dungeons & Dragons books would get left behind. I carried them onto the airplane in a backpack when we came back to Boise from Alaska. 🙂

    My inner kid felt sad at the thought of you looking for the books.

    Love Dave

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  8. I love the picture of you sitting between your brothers. The big sister looking out for her siblings. I’m also an introvert and I can understand why you had a hard time moving.
    I’m sentimental but my mother wasn’t so she would get rid of my possessions and not consider how I felt. I was a child in the 60s, a time when a child’s feelings weren’t taken into account.
    Your post reminded me of the summer my babysitter loaned me her Nancy Drew books. 🙂

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  9. I was going to mention that quote! It was exactly like that. I will keep in touch through your blog. I’m also the eldest of my siblings, there are four of us, two girls and two boys.

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