As my children's father used to say to them, "This is something you will remember the rest of your life." Twenty-five days and counting. I can't believe that my stay in Iraq is almost over. This has been a wonderful time in my life, even with all the trials and tribulations that I have had. I have been so fortunate to have wonderful people to work with and for, and a job that I truly love. For many years, I was too timid to try things that I didn't know how to do. Within the last ten years, I have learned that I can pretty much do anything I choose to do. I know that if I start out with a little knowledge, I will gain a lot by doing. That attitude has served me well, as I get ready to start a new life.
Leaving Iraq has proved to be a challenging experience but one I expected. The military is very concerned people, who re-deploy, might bring contraband back into the states, therefore, all packages mailed from here, through the US Postal Service are searched. I don't mean they kind of look through it, they unpack everything, wand it and repack. Being here for three years, I have accumulated stuff, lots of stuff. I have spent the last few weeks sorting, donating, trashing and packing my things. I have shipped most of it home already, ok, home isn't exactly where I shipped it, since there is no one there to get it out of the rain. I have shipped to my daughter's home in Bloomington. She has been kind enough to keep it for me until I return. I still haven't found out when I can leave. The contract is over on 30 June and I must have completed my travel to my home by that day. I work for one company and am subcontracted to another. Between the two, they make the decisions for my final travel. They seem to be having difficulty speaking to each other, so I am in limbo. Contracts seem to work like that. At the end the contractor is usually in limbo. Will the contract be renewed, will I have to find another job or like me, when can I leave?
During the time I have been here, my family and friends have been incredibly supportive. My father learned how to send email and sends me messages, which mean so much to me. My sister sends emails counting down days until a vacation or now, until I leave. They have sent care packages, letters and cards. My daughter and son have taken care of my mail. On a fairly regular basis, they send me mail call, via email with all the bills and statements that pertain to my finances. Most things are automatically paid online but some are unexpected or not available online. Having them there to take care of those things has been such a blessing. When I need something and can't get it online or shipped to me here, they and their spouses get what I needed or wanted and ship it to me, often times sending artwork and pictures of the grandkids. My daughter even signed all the paperwork when I bought the house. A great friend and his wife picked up my new truck and are storing it until it is time to ship it to Indiana. Without all their support, life would have been much harder. I truly have a wonder life, family and friends. I have been truly blessed.
Here are a few fun memories from the Iraq Assistance Group, the first couple of years that I was here.