July 24, 2008
As I was still trying to clear my head, I made my way up to the bridge. My intention was to do some reading and enjoy the sounds and smells of the Bering on the upper deck. I found myself just staring at the never ending horizon and wondering how I got here. I still had a headache but it was manageable and I was starting to feel normal again. I was staring at the Bering sky and calculating it was about 7:00 p.m. at home and my wife Dana was probably finishing up diner with my boys Jacob and Troy. I thought back when I got the e-mail confirming I was picked for this adventure. I hoped at this point I had earned my ticket so far when the Executive Officer, Mr. D. K. Bateman walked out on deck and greeted me.
He asked my how I was doing and I said I was fine. I did not want to tell him I felt under the weather. He asked where I taught and I replied on Long Island, New York. Since family was on my mind, I asked him how he does it and he said it wasn't always hard. When he was single or married without children, leaving home was part of his life and he and his wife understood it. Now that he has two children it is much harder. I agreed, even though my experiences are at a much more short-lived level.
Mr. Bateman gives his wife enormous respect and credit for raising their children and handling her daily routine alone with dignity. He and I realize it is very possible we could not do it and that our wives have it harder than us. I asked Mr. Bateman how he intents to "even out" all the lost time with is children. As they are getting older his wife constantly reminds them that their daddy is part of something extremely important and will be home soon. A child's concept of time is just a little different than an adult's so they are always asking when is daddy coming home. He and I got a laugh at that. Anybody with children knows what we mean.
From the time Mr. Bateman was in 9th grade, he wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force. As he matured he realized maybe it wasn't for him for various reasons. His older brother received a Coast Guard flyer in the mail and discarded it but Mr. Bateman was intrigued by it. He signed up and after the first week, hated it. The only family member home at the time he was allotted to make a phone call was his grandfather. His grandfather was the most excited of all his family after he went to the academy. Mr. Bateman didn't have the heart to tell his grandfather he was miserable so he stuck it out. Then he started liking it, and then he began to love it. He told himself he was going to do it until he did not love it anymore. It is over 15 years now, so I guess he still loves it!
After he decides to leave the Coast Guard, Mr. Bateman will take his Bachelor's in Math and Master's in Philosophy and Religion and put it to good use. He will earn is education certificate and teach math. I guess that answers my question earlier. Teachers work hard, I know, but we do have summers off. Mr. Bateman will enjoy his time with his family, I'm sure, and he definitely earned it!
Mr. Bateman, thank you for your time and dedication to your country. It is because of men and women like you, I have the freedoms I do.