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Grateful for my FEMA husband

This will be one of several Thanksgivings where I am taken in by family.

I’ll go to Pine Grove, my sister’s place, and tend to my duties as chief dishwasher. (I’m not allowed to cook, for reasons well known to family members.)

I’ll watch my grown niece become furiously competitive over board games with her equally grown brothers (“Do not take a picture of me, Aunt Sue!”) and laugh.



I won’t feel sorry for myself because I’m so impressed by my husband and his service to the damaged New Jersey coast. Robert is an architect and assesses damage and costs to repair public buildings, roads, hospitals and schools.

His first deployment was to American Samoa after a heartbreaking tsunami hit their coast. That first experience gave him a love for the Samoan people, interest in their culture and a strong compassion for people devastated by disasters.




He must be ready to deploy at any time when there is a disaster on American soil. He’s perfect for this job. He’s a multi-tasker and a spontaneous person. He has, however, learned to keep his bags packed and at the ready.

There is always something he forgets, and so I mail it. This time, it’s his Sorel boots and other warm clothing: turtlenecks, long underwear, warm socks. I throw in some Skittles Sours, which he cannot find in New Jersey. (Yes, you have seen me peering at the candy aisles in every supermarket in the twin cities.)

In the past three years, Robert has been sent all over the country. Sometimes I visit him (at our own expense) and have been to cities people don’t consider for a vacation.

I loved Des Moines, for example. I learned much about Mormonism in Salt Lake City, including the critical fact that there are coffee houses on every corner. I had a panic attack in Times Square. We felt the ghosts of Revolutionary soldiers at Valley Forge. I met the grateful governor of American Samoa and his wife.

This time, however, there’s not much to do for spouses; things are still pretty devastated.

I’ll go in January, and we will celebrate “Chrisgiving” in New Jersey.

So I will bring my whipped cream to Pine Grove (hopefully, it won’t curdle merely by being near me).

I’ll bring my small rescue dog for company on the road, and I will send prayers to Robert, his FEMA colleagues and others, like our family friend, Mando Wilkins, who traveled to New York with our local PG&E.

How can I be sad for myself, when most of the New Jersey coast will not be having the best holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sue Clark lives in Grass Valley.


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