Social distancing 7,205 miles away


Ammie Spellings

When her father returned to the United States, Ammie Spellings’s (10) family was reunited. While away from the army, Randy Spellings lives and works in Memphis as a special education teacher at White Station Middle School.

While many encountered strained friendships or discomfort from a lack of human contact during months of separation, the prolonged deployment of Ammie Spellings’s (10) father, Lieutenant Colonel Randy Spellings of the 194th Engineer Brigade of the United States Army, in Kuwait created family hardships for the Spellings and prompted nostalgic memories of a once-complete family. 

“[My mother] always stays really strong, but I know how hard it’s been for her,” Ammie Spellings said.

Ammie Spellings and her mother held new responsibilities for their family, including caring for Ammie Spellings’s younger brother during Randy Spellings’ deployment. This experience was not a first, however, as Randy Spellings has been deployed four times once in Iraq, once in Guantanamo Bay and twice in Kuwait for a total duration of 43 months. Despite the great appreciation Ammie Spellings had for her father’s self-sacrifice and service, she still yearned for him to be home and watch her grow.

“It’s really hard, especially since that was my first year of high school,” Ammie Spellings said. “He missed a lot of moments.”

The colonel’s extensive absences during Ammie Spellings’s childhood have allowed her to truly relish every moment she has with her father. With virtual communication limited to at most once a day, she longed for the day she could see her father in-person again. However, worldwide panic from the coronavirus and crackdowns on international travel restricted Randy Spellings from returning home to his two children and wife as soon as he intended.

With an additional two weeks tacked on to his deployment, Lieutenant Colonel Randy Spellings returned to the United States on Sept. 1. Though the pandemic had little impact on his deployment aside from having to socially distance from Kuwaiti citizens, coronavirus restrictions rained upon Randy Spellings upon his return to the U.S.

“When he first came back to the country, we couldn’t see him for two weeks because he was in quarantine,” Ammie Spellings said.

With the distance between father and daughter reduced from 7,205 miles to only the distance between their home in Memphis and an army base in Texas, the idea of seeing her father again became more of a reality for Ammie Spellings. However, the feeling of separation lingered.

“To me, it was even worse knowing that he was two states over and yet I still couldn’t talk to him in person,” Ammie Spellings said.

Ammie Spellings and her father have since reunited, and their family is whole once more. 

“Seeing my father for the first time in ten months felt like everything was right in the world,” Ammie Spellings said. “For a moment, everything that was going on around me came to a stop, and nothing existed but my family and me.”