I haven't seen my dad in over a year, not since he helped me move down to L.A. last June. Is that because I moved almost 1000 miles away from home and haven't returned to the verdant northwest since? No...in fact, I've seen my mom and sister 3 times each in the past year. Is it because he and I don't get along? Not at all; we're quite close.
Family and close friends know that in September of '04, my dad took a job with a defense industry contractor. My sister and I were told about a month before he flew to Texas for training, and thence to the Middle East. Kuwait, specifically. The whole family (myself very much included) proceeded to freak out, vehemently opposed to this decision. Eventually though, most of us eventually came to understand and even somewhat accept it.
Dad spent the past year in Kuwait and Iraq, though well out of the major "hotspots" for the most part. In my mind, of course, the whole damned region is one big hotspot, but even I will admit he was as safe as he could have been, under the circumstances. He sent home many photos of the heavily-armored trucks he drove - the windows for some of which my company makes! - and the camels he saw (apologies if that link doesn't work; my webhost's server has been funky lately). When his turn came for R&R vacation, Mom flew over to meet him in Greece, where they spent two weeks. Yes, there were many, many worrisome days (most of us gave up on reading the news from that region altogether), but none of our greatest fears for him were realized.
Last night, after some marathon plane-riding, my dad landed at Portland Int'l Airport, home for his second R&R (he and Mom are taking off for Hawaii next week) and hopefully for good. I finally feel okay with writing about where he's been and why, now that he's home. Just felt oddly as though I would be jeapordizing his safety if I wrote anything before now. But I want to put out there for all the world (okay, a few dozen people) to see how very proud I am of him. It was not an easy decision to make, taking a job in an extremely dangerous part of the world for the sake of his family, and he was incredibly brave to do what he did. Doesn't mean I want him to go back (please, god no, don't go back), but that aprehensiveness doesn't at all diminish my pride for and appreciation of him.
Welcome home, Dad! I love you. :)