Photograph Contributed by Barry Johnston
I'm still in the U. S. Coast Guard Reserve and have been called back to active duty three times for varying periods of time since 9/11. My latest and longest duty was last year when I worked for the Coast Guard from early January through the end of December. Fortunately, each time I've gone to the same place, working and staying there during the week and normally getting home on weekends.
The work has always been interesting, especially since I often go aboard foreign vessels and naturally have to deal with various foreign nationals; shades of Aramco. I hate being out of town when I work for the Coast Guard but I do so enjoy the work. I just wish that the Coast Guard could keep me on active duty (where I've normally worked) but as usual, they just never have enough money.
That was the good part of last year but then hurricane Ivan came along in mid September and seriously damaged our waterfront house here in Pensacola, Florida. It was damaged to the extent that we can't live in it even today.
Just after the hurricane, my wife Gracie and I moved across the state line into Alabama. We stayed for a couple of months before being able to find another rental place back in Florida not far from our house and friends.
Since Ivan, it's been a nightmare dealing with FEMA and insurance adjusters, and trying to get estimates from contractors for making our house livable again. Gracie had to deal with all of this initially and I've since learned just how hard and frustrating it has been for her. Some days we think about rebuilding and other days we get so frustrated that we consider selling it as is and moving somewhere further inland.
To make matters worse, my 90 year old father had a car accident one night earlier this month and then later, on the 16th, my 91 year old Mother died after being in a nursing home for almost three years to the day. My father seems to be dealing well with my mother's death, as have I. It was for the best since she hadn't had any kind of meaningful life for the past 4 or 5 years.
Now, Gracie and I are trying to keep my father from driving, especially at night. So far, he's gone along with our wishes; however, getting him around and doing things for him has now put a greater burden on us, so much so that we're now thinking about having him move in with us for a while.
Short of another hurricane hitting this part of Florida later this year, things have certainly got to get better for us.
We'd love to hear from our Aramco friends. Please email either of us at [email protected].