PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) Not even the Army could prepare Specialist Stephen Hicks for the curveball life threw at him.
He stepped off a bus in Kennedy Plaza, and immediately began counting heads and collecting luggage.
“They all seem pretty happy today,” Hicks said, looking around at his children. “This is Lexxi. She’s my oldest.”
The oldest of six, ages 2 through Lexxi’s 8, with 5-year old twins somewhere in the middle. Lexxi did her best to help her dad control the other five during the long bus ride from Pennsylvania.
“I was trying,” Lexxi said. “It wasn’t easy but we’re here.”
Both dad and daughter mustered a smile.
“Probably 500,” Hicks said when asked how many times his crew asked, are we there yet? “That’s all they kept talking about. Are we in Rhode Island?”
Specialist Hicks spent 18 months in Iraq with the 133rd Field Artillery Regiment. But risking his life while serving his country brought no guarantees when he came home.
One issue led to another and before he knew it, his family had nowhere to live.
“Sometimes things just don’t come together,” Hicks said. “You’ve just got to pick up what you have and keep moving.”
That meant getting from Texas to family here in Rhode Island. But until this week, the Hicks were stuck in Pennsylvania.
Helping Hearts and Operation Stand Down Rhode Island stepped in to work out the kinks of a logistical nightmare involving finding car seats, securing bus tickets and putting together the caravan that would get the Hicks from the bus station to their final destination.
State Police got involved as well, aiming part of their toy drive at the Hicks kids.
There’s plenty more to worry about, considering their lives are now stuffed in their suitcases, backpacks and duffle bags. But the kids might be just as tough as their dad as they all wait to find out what happens next.
“I don’t know. My dad will tell me,” she said, looking up to him. “My dad will tell me. Right dad? Right dad?”‘
He nodded his head as they got into a number of vehicles to head to his in-law’s home.
“It’s day by day,” her dad said. “You learn.”
The days ahead include getting his children enrolled in school and daycare….securing a job and rebuilding his family’s life.