Part 2: Local Man Still Hopes
to Bring his Family Home
Carter ‘Hop’ Cowan sits
in a coffeeshop in Berkeley, taking a scant few minutes off from his day-long
search for work and still wishing that he could have brought his family back to
the States when he arrived a few days ago.But the sea captain’s course back to his homeland was in some ways a rougher
ride than crossing the Pacific Ocean from Cebu, Philippines, where he lived for
years with his wife and 14 year-old son.
“I’ve come this far, really
struggling to get back to the States so I can work and send money home for them
– and now the work really starts.I feel better though, since I’ve managed to
overcome all the obstacles to get here, so I’m hopeful that I can do what’s
needed to manage our lives here,” Carter says, looking very determined as he
jots down ideas and possible leads for work.
Vivian & Carter in happier times
Carter is a tough and
salty old hand, who spent many years in shipboard living, crossing the oceans,
and bearing the crucial responsibilities of a ship’s captain (providing for and
taking care of crews, passengers and vessels at sea).And it seems that the pain of not being able
to care for his family far outweighs the pain he still feels from wounds
sustained when a boom slammed into his neck and head during a mid-Pacific storm
that sunk the Empress, a yacht he was
captaining.He rubs his neck and groans,
then turns quickly back to his list of prospects.
But his eyes soften
when he speaks about Vivian, his 49 year-old wife who currently suffers the
devastating effects of late-stage cancer.“I hated leaving Vivian there, but it seemed the only way to get her
family involved.And my life wasn’t safe
if I couldn’t pay our bills.Some old
injuries really kept me from some of the jobs I used to do, and I couldn’t keep
a work visa in Australia.It was
humiliating to leave like that, but as soon as I can send money back, I’ll
begin to feel better about the whole situation.”
Broke from the medical
bills, Carter faced a practically non-existent job market in the Philippines
during the world-wide crash of 2008-2009.Watching his wife suffer became too much for him, and friends worked
overtime to get him back stateside by a lengthy campaign with the US State
Department and the US Embassy in Manila.
Impoverished by medical
bills, Carter couldn’t even leave the Philippines til someone helped out with
the money to fly 355 miles from Cebu to Manila, where the US State Department
indicated that it might lend him the
money for a ticket home.His circumstances
deteriorating daily, Carter was able to get several American friends to push
through for him.“Now I’m here in the Bay
Area, and I’m aiming to find a job – and I don’t care that it’s a declining
market.There’s a job for me and I’m
going to find it!”
Asked about his earlier
claim that he’d “find a way to sail us back to the US if [his] boat were
seaworthy,” Carter shows that tough and salty side.“I’d never abandon a boat that could safely
sail.And taking a sick person across
the ocean isn’t optimum – but I’ll tell you, I was desperate enough to try
anything.Yes.Yes, I would have set out with nothing but water
and plain rice, if we had enough medicine to make the trip.I know the Pacific well enough.But it’s a different course now – now I have
to earn and send, earn and send.I’ve
done it before, and I’ll do it now.”
While it seems a long
way off, Carter still is determined to get his wife here, along with their son
Hopkins, who is a top middle-school student.“Hopkins has seen what a catastrophe medical bills can be, and he’s
studying hard to build himself a career that will allow him to care for the family
he hopes to have one day.So perhaps this
whole incident has had a good effect somehow.”
Unable to raise enough
money to help bring the family back, Carter’s friends turned to the US State
Department and even contacted the Red Cross on his behalf.They recently found some money held by the
state of Virginia in Carter’s name, but that’s only a few hundred dollarsthat
may take months to recover.
Carter’s years at sea
are evident under a gunmetal Berkeley sky – strength, tenacity and indomitability.Determined to get his wife to the States for
treatment of the cancer threatening her life, he’s tired but unwilling to give
up for the day.
“Got to get back to it,”
he says, and heads out into the wind to walk to the marina to look for a job,
any job – leaving an observer to wonder whether Carter still has the strength
to keep going at his quest.
Readers can send
advice, encouragement, or prayers to:Captainswife44@hotmail.com.
Hakim is an internationally-published journalist and award-winning author who
has run several newspapers – and recently received a commendation for his short
story That Man in
the London Aesthetica Competition.He can be
reached at 415.378.6170 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Posed Perfectly in Dreams: 15 bucks for trade edition & $30 for the numbered copies (signed by author, the editor, and by Andrei Rozen, producer of the surrealish cover photo). Author will inscribe each copy. Add 3 bucks for mail. To order, please email to cinesource(at)earthlink.net
They thought I had guts but they had it all wrong. I was only frightened of more important things. ~ Charles Bukowski
Those of us for whom the most extravagant promises have become a reality, are, I think, required to seek appropriate expression of their gratitude.
~ Sol Linowitz, American Ambassador
"We will cross our bridges when we come to them And burn them behind us." ~ 'Cump' Sherman, on his way to the beach
"I'll burn that bridge when I come to it." ~ Jodha Nasrudin
Life does not demand more strength than we possess.
Only one thing is possible: not to have run away.
~ Dag Hammerskjold
We may not find things to our likin’ – but we’re gonna dang sure find somethin’ we ain’t seen today.