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Coastie Castaways by Susan Collier - 11M ago

Wow! Where do I start? I can’t believe it has been a month since Tex’s retirement ceremony. So much has happened! I meant to keep up with posting on here but our days have been so busy, I have barely been able to breathe! We have been getting up super early and going to bed late at night and I just haven’t had time to get anything else done except the absolutely necessary for that day!

First off, I have to admit to keeping a HUGE secret for the past 10 months or so. Megan, Amanda and I conspired to surprise Tex and for Amanda, Kegan, Megan, Aaron, Caleb and Henry to come to Seattle for a week and be able to attend his retirement ceremony. The story we told Tex was that Amanda had to work that week and couldn’t come because she was changing school districts and that it was too expensive and too far for all four of Megan’s family to come.

So on Sunday morning the week of the ceremony, Tex woke up hurting from his recent neck surgery and moved to the couch. While he was lying down, Megan, Aaron, Caleb and Henry drove up in their rental car and just opened the door very quietly with Caleb leading them inside. Tex woke up and was so confused! He had no idea what was happening. Once he realized what was going on, he started tearing up and tears fell down his face! SCORE!

 So on Sunday, we played with the two grandsons and made last minute preps for the ceremony as well as getting the RV and trailer road ready since we have never driven this RV anywhere yet.

All the while, we were all still keeping another secret. While Tex went to work Monday, little did he know that Amanda was actually flying in as well. So, when Tex came home from work on Monday, he walks in the RV and Caleb whistles really loud (really he just squeals because he can’t actually whistle.) This “whistle” was the tip for Kegan to slowly open the bedroom door and come running out to Papa! SCORE! Here come the tears again!

I have no idea how we successfully surprised him. There were several times that I almost spilled the beans and said something about groceries while they were here, or doing something while they were here and had to quickly cover it up.

Even Tex’s bosses were in on it and had to have a separate sample script going around during the months prior to the ceremony. This was because there was several times when the girls were discussed during the ceremony and the script had to flow like they weren’t actually going to be there. I have to thank CDR Rasmussen, CDR Boba and Capt Romanowicz for all their help and for going along with my crazy scheme! They really came through and I am so appreciative of their help!

Now for the ceremony – it was awesome! Tex didn’t want a formal, stuffy ceremony, so we had a casual, funny, serious ceremony that was just perfect. Everything went exactly as planned and we couldn’t be happier. I totally thought I would cry during the whole ceremony but I only cried a bit during Tex’s speech. It was so heartfelt, serious, funny and truly showed his servant heart and his strong patriotism. I am so proud of him. I never dreamed 31 years ago that he would even go into the military much less retire with over 30 years service and accomplish so much during his tenure.

The XO brought this down the aisle at the end of the ceremony as a joke.

The day after the ceremony, we did a few touristy things with the family and went to the Space Needle and the Children’s Museum. The next day we celebrated Caleb’s 3rd birthday a few weeks early.  We then spent the rest of the week playing with the grandkids and doing a million things that had to be done to get all of our stuff, the RV, the RZR and the trailer road ready. It was a crazy week but we had great fun. Tex and I quickly realized that we are so glad we had our girls when we were young because we were exhausted by the end of the week.

Amanda and Kegan flew home late Saturday afternoon and Megan, Aaron, Caleb and Henry flew out Sunday morning. At the same time Megan and crew were leaving for the airport, we actually pulled out of the RV lot and headed out on our first day of traveling. Boy, was that bad planning on our part!

We should have planned for a few down days after the kids left before we left but when we made our travel plans, we didn’t know the kids were coming and we thought we had 5 days planned to rest. When the plans changed that the girls could both come, I couldn’t just change our plans because it would give away the fact that they were coming. So as it turns out, Megan and crew left at the same time as we did on Sunday morning.

We weren’t the only ones exhausted We weren’t the only ones exhausted We weren’t the only ones exhausted Even the girls were exhausted!

The first few days were long driving days and were exhilarating and exhausting but we did that on purpose as we wanted to spend some time in Topeka, Kansas and see several friends that live there. We stayed in Topeka for 3 nights and had meals with 4 different friends while there. There were many more that we wanted to see but we just didn’t have time. So all you Kansas friends….we will be back to see you guys soon!

We finally arrived in OKC on July 3rd and haven’t stopped yet. Since the ceremony, we have not even had one day without some event or appointment, even a month later! We are still running on adrenaline and are going to crash very soon.

Our home in OKC for July & Aug

The reason that we had to get to OKC in such a hurry and to even be here during the hottest months of the summer is that Tex decided to apply for his VA disability benefits from OKC vice Seattle. The Seattle VA office is inundated with applications and we felt that we were get his doctor appointments and the overall claim processed quicker in OKC and that has certainly turned out to be true.

We met with his VA Veteran Service Officer on July 6th and he formally applied for benefits that day. Because Tex is still on active duty until 1 November, that allows his application to be processed under a special program that speeds the process up a bit. They also have a contract here with civilian doctors that require Tex to have all of his doctor appointments completed within 45 days of his application date. What a huge relief! We were concerned that we may have to stay in OKC for several months and might not be able to get to AZ in November.

So once he applied for his VA benefits, we had a ton of other stuff that had to be done. One huge thing we had to deal with was the 5×10 storage unit that we still had here that we needed to empty. It was stuff that we didn’t have time to deal with last summer when we sold the house.

But first, let me just remind you of one big issue….the HEAT and DEW POINT! Oh my word! It has been over 100 degrees with 70-90 dew point. I mean, it is MUGGY and HOT! We have enjoyed the Seattle summers for the past 3 years and are not happy we are back in this heat. Just walking outside for 10 seconds and my clothes are wet from sweat. The girls are especially not happy! They are used to sitting outside all day and going on long walks and getting to see so many people and other dogs.   Here, it is so hot that no one goes outside unless they have to go somewhere, no one goes outside to sit or go for walks and the section of the park that we are in is mostly construction workers so there is no one to talk to anyway.

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Coastie Castaways by Susan Collier - 1y ago

It is finally here! Today is the BIG day! Tex’s retirement ceremony is today! Official retirement date is 1 November but his last day of work is today.

                  

I am feeling so many emotions right now it is hard to put them into words. Joy, sadness, pride, relieved, stressed, anxious, ecstatic, excited, frightened, joyful, liberated, and so many more. But I have to say that I am so proud of Tex and his honorable service to the U.S. Coast Guard and our Country for over 30 years. He has served this Country admirably and has sacrificed more than you will ever know while at the same time has provided for and raised our two wonderful girls, Megan and Amanda.

Megan and Amanda also deserve special recognition today because they served and sacrificed probably more than anyone. Moving every few years, changing schools, and leaving friends behind and having to make new friends is super hard and they did it without question. Being a military brat is one of the hardest jobs in the military.

Most of you are probably not aware that the dandelion is the flower of the military child. It may not seem obvious, but it makes very good sense when you read the following anonymous quote:

The Dandelion – The Flower of the Military Child

“The official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.

Experts say that military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. Military children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world, and that education doesn’t only come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences.”

This describes Megan and Amanda perfectly. They served right along side of us and made many more sacrifices than Tex or I ever did. It isn’t easy growing up with peer pressure and such, and being a military brat just adds a different layer to all of the challenges they faced. But they faced them head on and grew into confident, well-rounded adults who we are proud to call our daughters.

The past 30 years have flown by. We have thought about this day for so many years, it feels a little surreal that it is here. And even though leaving the Coast Guard is a little sad, as I stated in our last post, we are ready. We are ready to begin Phase II of our life together. Retired life will be vastly different in every way imaginable, as all we have ever known is military life in the Coast Guard. I am sure it will take Tex a while to adjust to his new-found freedom. He is so used to being told where to work, where to live, what to wear, and how long his hair can be etc. that it will take a while for everything to sink in and for him to really de-stress and relax.

And while today may be a bittersweet day, we are so excited to start our retired life and to hit the road in our motorhome and see this beautiful country that we have served for so long. So if you see us out on the road, stop us and say hi! We can’t wait to start our new journey!

“In life, it isn’t where you go, it is who you travel with”

                                                           Charles M. Schultz

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