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Returning from a year down under

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By Ginger Truitt

Today’s the day! Our daughter Abby is returning from a year in Australia! I don’t think I’ve been this excited about an impending arrival since 1982, when my school was chosen to be Chattanooga’s official welcoming committee for Nancy Reagan.

Just like when my fifth grade class was preparing for Mrs. Reagan, the past week has been a flurry of activity. We’ve painted and redecorated Abby’s bedroom, cleaned the house from top to bottom, made “Welcome Home” signs for the airport, and planned a party. The only thing I haven’t done yet is wash my hair, but that’s because I recently got blonde highlights which tend to turn orange with our well water, so I use bottled water. Washing my hair with bottled water is one of my least favorite things to do, but I don’t want Abby to think her mom has turned into Lucille Ball. Actually, Lucille Ball is probably the last person that would pop into her mind, but I can’t think of any currently popular redheads.

Sorry. I tend to ramble when I’m excited, and I’m super excited because Abby is coming home!

So, anyway, as soon as I get my hair washed, and hubby finishes installing the new ceiling fan that I just mentioned to him an hour ago, we will be ready to go. It will be the second time this week I’ve been to the airport because hubby just got in from Tokyo less than 48 hours ago. That’s why I didn’t mention the ceiling fan until today. Men are more prone to tackle the items on their Honey Do list if they’ve had a good night’s sleep after 30 hours of traveling. It gives them a chance to stop thinking, “It’s only 2 a.m. in Japan. No way I’m installing a ceiling fan at this hour.”

Oh no! I forgot the balloons!

Hold on a sec…Okay, I’m back.

Balloons are ordered with an all-American red, white, and blue theme. She has been in Australia for the past year as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program. Our local Rotary Club sponsored her, and sent flags and a Rotary banner for her to exchange with the Club in Musswellbrook, Australia. The entire program has been fantastic. Not only has she had the opportunity to represent the USA in another part of the world, but the Australian Rotarians took her under their wing and have afforded her a number of incredible opportunities.

Among other things, she scaled Uluru, climbed Harbor Bridge at dusk and visited the Sydney Opera House. I thought she might be disappointed to miss her junior prom. But when that weekend rolled around, prom was quickly forgotten when she came face to face with a giant sea turtle while deep sea diving at the Great Barrier Reef. She has been surfing, swimming, and camping under an entirely different set of constellations.

I can hardly wait to see her pictures, hear her stories and give her a great big hug. The last time I hugged her, she was just sixteen. Now, she is a year older, and I’m sure living in another culture for a year has changed her. It will be an adjustment for all of us, but we can worry about that tomorrow. Right now, I need to wash my hair, and make sure hubby didn’t succumb to jetlag and fall asleep installing that ceiling fan, because today’s the day!

Abby is coming home!