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Monday, July 11, 2011

The Letter

Sometimes your past comes back to haunt you.  Other times the past can bring back precious memories.

Flash back to March 1988.  I was a young Second Class Machinery Technician stationed aboard the Coast Guard cutter Point Francis, an 82 foot long patrol boat homeported in Sandy Hook, NJ (just outside of New York harbor).  The cutter had a crew of 10 men.  I was one of the four engineers on board.  Looking back, it was one of the best jobs I've ever had, either in or out of the Coast Guard.

Sadly, like much of the Coast Guard's fleet, the Point Francis was already more than 20 years old when I reported aboard and it took a lot of work to keep her running.  Most of the maintenance and repairs the four of us were able to do.  But at times, the repairs needed were beyond what we had the resources to do.

The Point Francis was used to patrol the seas from New Jersey up to Maine for drug smuggling, fisheries enforcement and search and rescue.  It was a hard life, and the seas off New England in the winter can strain a cutter (and crew) to the very edge of their abilities.  Lets just say that 30 foot high waves are, well, impressive.

Because of the heavy use and abuse, we had a major casualty, one of the Point Francis' two built in 2500 gallon fuel tanks developed a crack from 20 years of twisting and slamming.  It started leaking fuel into the bilges.

It was something that we could not fix ourselves so we had to head to the major Coast Guard base on Governors Island, right in New York Harbor, where there were major facilities to help us repair the cracked fuel tank.

Picture this, 2000 plus gallons of fuel had to be removed, then we had to flush the tank, then open the access hatches and after ensuring there was enough oxygen in there, we had to go in and scrub the tank to pristine condition.  Long, hard, time consuming work.  It had to be spotless so the crack area could be cut out and new steel could be welded in.  After about a week at Governors Island, the welding had yet to be done.  I was tired, homesick and looking forward to going home to Sandy Hook for the weekend in a van the skipper rented for the crew and see Marti and the kids.  I had time after working hours to sit down and write a letter to Marti.

The years went by, Marti saved that letter and put it away in a book for safe keeping.  Life moved on, we moved on and I totally forgot about the fuel tank repair and the letter.

Fast forward to last month.  We're packing up and getting rid of excess stuff to get the house ready for sale.  We're tossing stuff, donating stuff and turning in bunches of books to a book reselling store that we no longer want.

On our blog one day we get a comment from a pastor in the area.  He bought a book at the book reseller and tucked inside the book was a letter.  He looked at the letter, read it and decided to see if he could track down the owners of the letter, us.  Google was his friend and in no time he found our R Sanity RV Adventures blog.  We corresponded via email and we invited the pastor and his wife to dinner.

Along with the great food and conversation with our new friends, we received our long forgotten letter.

(Click on the picture to enlarge, it's okay, you can read it.)

Reading the letter brought back all the long forgotten memories and it warmed our hearts.  A homesick Coastie missing wife, his best friend.

The letter underscored our RV dream, to spend our time together traveling in our Winnebago Journey.  We missed much over the years as I traveled all over the world, at times Marti didn't even know where I was, what I was doing and when (if) I was coming home.  We're going to make up for those missing days and we look forward to never being apart again like those bygone days.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


  1. Just amazing! Memories and the little things that bring those back to us are wonderful.

    (I tried to respond to your comment on my blog, but no email to respond with.) Good luck with getting to Oregon and hope the time passes quickly for you. Dinner sounds good but we'll bring Dutch with us (you know, Mr. Dutch Treat.)

  2. What a sweet, tender, loving letter. So nice when a man speaks from his heart. I'm sure you still do...a wonderful example not only to your children but to the world.

  3. Wow, what a great story - and a wonderful letter (yes, I read it...)

  4. Awwww. What a nice story with a happy ending.

  5. That was a beautiful letter. Glad someone took the time to return it. So nice you got a chance to meet that person!!

    Best Friends...that is what it takes to make lifes journey truly special!!!!!

  6. You two are so special. So glad you let us share a peek into your wonderful marriage.

  7. What a great feel good story! Like something you'd see on the news at night. :)

  8. What a beautiful, touching post! You are such a good writer.

    Isn't it wonderful being married to your best friend?

  9. I love a good love story, and your marriage is the epitome of one. (I read the letter too.) How wonderful for that pastor to track you down so that he could return it to you. And an added bonus out of all this: new friends!

  10. This is just a wonderful post Paul. A real life love story. Yup I read the letter. So glad you had it returned. Teaches us all to look through even the books we are giving away. With so much "stuff" we often just start tossing.

    People are often very fine aren't they, to go to the trouble of hunting you up and returning the letter. What was the book by the way??

  11. Great story. Before throwing out a lot old "history stuff", I scanned copies of a lot of it.

  12. Sweet! "Life is Good" - and often better, as your post so nicely reminds us. Thanks!

  13. What a wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing.

    It's amazing what wisdom comes in the voices of our "younger" selves.

  14. After reading the letter, I can certainly see why the pastor took the effort to find you. I'm sure he refers to this in his councelling of new couples. Great stuff indeed!

  15. Great Story and great letter. We wish you many years on the road together enjoying each others company.

  16. what a lovely letter and thanks for sharing it with all of us!..funny how the 'younger selves' knew even back then what they wanted!!...may you both have many happy years your dream!

  17. What a cool story, glad you got the letter back.

  18. What a great story and what a very great post! I love it. Yes you will have a great life of fulltime RVing! Just think what your posts are going to be like then! Take care you two. (Have you been having any trouble with blogger?)