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Your Tewksbury Today

Family Life Can Be Challenging When Dad Travels

Mar 15, 2016 11:17AM ● By Bill Gilman

Ted works on his project.

(Editor's note: The following column was originally posted on Ourcircleofmoms.com and is reprinted with their permission.)

“Cars aren’t meant for a garage!” That’s what my husband always tells me.

He’s right, because as long as we’re living in the house we have now, my car won’t fit in the garage.

My husband is an engineer for a company that manufactures proton cyclotrons – proton beam generators that treat cancer. He gets sent out to various hospitals, and is the “emergency guy” when one of the systems stops working or need to be tested or upgraded. Often, he is at a site when new equipment is being installed. Sometimes, he gets a call and has to leave on the very same day. Because it’s radiation equipment for treating cancer, patients can’t be left waiting for their treatments. When he has to go, he has to go.

When he started working for this company, he would often be gone ten days at a time. One year, he actually had to live in St Louis and he worked directly with the doctors treating patients. He commuted home every two weeks on weekends. That was a long year. He was away for 42 weeks. It was hard for me to get adjusted to being alone at home and keeping everything running. At first, I was very fearful with him being away. What if my car broke down? What if the snow was too deep for me to shovel? What  if…. I was very anxious and lonely.

Although it was hard for me, I think it was even harder on my youngest son. He was eleven when my husband took the job, and he really missed his dad when he was away. If we had it any other way, we would have loved to have my husband working locally and not having to travel, but this was a good job and the medical benefits that we needed were excellent. We had to balance what we thought was best for our family overall.

After four years at this job, we are finally feeling settled into my husband’s travel schedule. My son is older and used to having his dad leave for the airport. When my husband is home, he makes it a priority to spend as much time as possible with the kids, and he works on projects with them.

This is where I get back to our garage…

Our garage is filled with machine tools: two lathes, milling machines, grinders, saws, welders, etc. It’s been a hobby for my husband for thirty years. The guys even attended the New England Model Steam Engine Show a couple of weekends ago at the Charles River Industrial Museum in Waltham. I tagged along to keep them company. The show inspired them to start another project together, and they’ve started machining a mini steam engine.

The project will take a while and that’s good. It will be something my husband and son can look forward to doing together when he’s home from his travels.

It looks like I’ll be parking in the driveway forever.

- See more at: http://www.ourcircleofmoms.com/when-dad-travels/#sthash.dVmbn63S.dpuf
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