I'm beginning to think that it is a carefully crafted plan to make family members glad to see their loved ones leave. Honestly, thinking back, I don't think that my husband has ever left for a deployment on time. There's always some sort of delay, maybe a couple of hours or maybe a couple of days. Sometimes you get a phone call the night before, "The ship's (insert some random part here) is broken and we can't pull out tomorrow." Sometimes it is only after you've been sitting (insert location here) for hours and the announcement is made: "Okay, folks. The plane is in (insert some other location here) and it won't be here until (insert some time in the future.) "
The end result is usually the same. The kids' emotions are worn out from the changes. The spouses have now taken four days off work for the big good-bye. Parents who flew in have already turned around and gone home. The mood in the (insert goodbye location here) has changed from sad and gloomy to a bit humorous and anticipatory. And as they get on the (insert form of transportation here), at least one spouse says: "I don't care where you go, just don't call and tell me that you're still here."