Back in 2015, a friend of mine emailed me. This friend (let’s call him Steve) lives up near Manila, he is an American. As part of our daily email conversation, my friend was telling me about another American (we’ll call him Charlie) that he had met while he was at the mall.
Steve was telling me that when he met Charlie, Charlie was telling him about his “OAW” work. Do you know what an “OFW” is? OFW is a big thing in the Philippines, and the letters stand for “Overseas Filipino Worker”. Charlie was doing “OAW” work, a play on words.. meaning “Overseas American Worker.” Basically, During part of the year, Charlie lived in the Philippines, then for 4 to 6 months, Charlie went to Alaska to work in the Seafood Processing industry there.
The amount of money that Charlie was making in Alaska was really good money, especially for somebody living in the Philippines. It does not require much money to live a fairly nice life in the Philippines, as the cost of living here is very low.
When I told Feyma about this, she expressed an interest in going and working part of the year in Alaska herself. Feyma is a Dual Citizen, USA and Philippines, so she has the right to work in both countries. Well, she and I talked about it, but nothing really happened, at least not right away.
Big Change Ahead
In June of 2016, I had a heart attack. That went on to further heart problems, leading to a Quadruple Heart Bypass in November 2016. Having a major health problem like that is very expensive, as you can imagine. We were able to scrape together the funds, but frankly, it really wiped out our savings.
Not long after I was home from the hospital, Feyma told me that if I made a good recovery she would like to go try working in Alaska later in 2017. I told her that if she was willing to do that, it would help us a lot and she had my deep respect for that. As it turned out, I did make a very good recovery, and in May 2017, Feyma started her journey to the USA, so she could work in Alaska. Neither of us had been back to the States for 17 years, so it was an eye-opener for her, I am sure.
Feyma was hired by one Seafood Processing Company, but their processing season lasted for only a month. Still, Feyma worked hard, but enjoyed it and planned to return there in 2018. However, a few weeks later she got a surprise. Another Seafood Processor, Peter Pan Seafoods, contacted her and offered to hire her. She jumped on the opportunity and started there around the end of the 2nd week in August. She worked there at Peter Pan for about 4 months. It was hard work, but she made a lot of great friends (we consider them family, really), and decided that when she returns to Alaska in 2018 (and beyond) she will go directly to work for Peter Pan.
Gone for about 6 months
So, between Feyma’s work time and downtime in the States, Feyma was gone for about 6 months. I was here alone with two of my adult children, an adult niece, and our 13-year-old niece.
Feyma and I had been apart only rarely, and for very short periods during our 27-year marriage, so a 6 month period apart was a shock. The original plan was for Feyma to be gone for 4 or 5 months, but it turned into 6.
I really expected this time apart to be hell. I was so accustomed to having Feyma around all the time (I have worked at home for the past 25 years, and Feyma was a homemaker), that being apart for that amount of time would be very difficult.
To be honest, though, it was not nearly as difficult as I expected. Feyma and I have talked, and she felt the same way. She expected it to be very difficult, but as it turned out, it was not so bad.
In the beginning, Feyma was still in Vancouver, Washington, had good Internet, and we could talk daily. Well, I have to be honest, we talked MANY time every day. 🙂
When Feyma went to her first job, in Naknek, Alaska, she did not have Internet for a few days, which was more difficult for us. But, within a few days she got her new SIM card for an Alaskan Cellphone Carrier and had Internet Access, so at least we could talk. That made it very nice.
When Feyma went for her second job in Alaska, in King Cove, Alaska, it took a week or 10 days before we had any chance to communicate. Luckily, I have a friend who is in the management for Peter Pan, and he told me that Feyma had arrived safely, and from time to time he would say that he had seen Feyma working, and she always had a smile on her face. That was very comforting to me, at least I knew she was doing OK.
Feyma never really had Internet, though, in King Cove until much later. She did finally receive another new SIM card and had a telephone available. I have a Skype In Number, so with my US phone number, Feyma could call me with no toll. I could call her too, although I never really knew which hours she would be off of work, so generally, she would call me. We would talk on the phone 1 or more times per day most of the time, and it make things OK. Sometimes, one of Feyma’s friends would email me some pictures of post them on Facebook. That really made my day when I would get photos.
A few weeks before Feyma came home, she was lucky and was able to “inherit” an Internet WiFi system that allowed her to communicate with me anytime she wanted, and that was great.
Around November 9, Feyma got word that she would be sent home, I believe that the date she left for home was November 18, perhaps it was the 17th. Feyma would be going to Vancouver, Washington, where my Mom lives, and spend a week there to wrap up some loose ends before returning to the Philippines. To be honest, that week was the most difficult time for me. She had already finished her work but was not yet home. I simply could not wait and was pushing Feyma to hurry up and get things done so she could head to the Philippines. I started getting lonely. 🙂 I guess that after 27 years of marriage that is to be expected.
Feyma arrived home in Davao City on Sunday, November 18th, and I was so happy to see her.
Be sure to check back next week when I will tell the story of our reunion after 6 months apart. Of course, the reunion is still ongoing, and we are loving it. I’ll tell you all about it next week!