Organic Matter: Not all Christmas presents wrapped in pretty paper
Not all Christmas presents come in boxes wrapped in pretty paper.
There are times when just hearing someone's voice on the telephone can bring as much delight as a package under the tree.
Such was the case for my wife, Colleen, and I on Christmas Day.
Scott Organ, my naval aviator nephew, phoned us shortly after noon.
He has lived in Virginia with his wife, Cathy, and three children for the last four years.
Scott was deployed with his fighter squadron aboard the USS Enterprise to the Persian Gulf region when terrorists struck at America on Sept.
The Enterprise was heading home that day, but had its duty tour extended and became one of the first aircraft carriers to launch strikes against Afghanistan.
With war against Iraq looming on the horizon, I have been concerned he might be deployed again.
But Scott's call took a whole different direction.
He has been assigned to duty at the Pentagon beginning Feb.
He mentioned the office to which he will be attached, but I did not have paper and pencil handy so I already have forgotten it.
His flying days are nearing an end, but he and Cathy are excited about the new assignment.
They are in the process of having a new home built in a District of Columbia suburb that is 40 minutes driving time from the Pentagon.
After finishing my conversation with Scott, I also spoke with his visiting mother and Cathy.
During my conversation with Cathy, I asked if the damaged Pentagon has been fully repaired.
She said they had recently driven past it and repairs were nearing completion.
They also have no fears of a similar incident in the future.
A second phone call in the evening was almost a shock to me.
Colleen's sister, Debbie, lives in Las Vegas with her husband, Randy, and teenage son, James Earl.
We had not had any contact with them for about nine months.
Several messages I had left on their answering machine in the interim had not gotten a response.
The last time I tried to phone them I got a message saying the number was no longer in service.
I called the doctor's office where I last knew Debbie was working and was told she had left two months earlier and nobody knew where to find her.
I sent a letter asking Debbie and Randy to contact us right away.
The letter was not returned, but neither did I get a response to it.
Colleen was thinking they had moved and failed to notify us.
That seemed possible since we did not hear from them for several months when they relocated from Messina, N.Y.
to Las Vegas.
But I was fearful of something more drastic – that they may have died and we never learned of it.
Did a car crash take them or were they victims of some criminal act?
We even drove to their home in search of answers on Colleen's birthday in early December.
Nobody was in, so we parked out front for about 45 minutes in hopes someone would pull into the driveway.
I also began going door-to-door to houses on both sides of the street and found only two people home among eight homes at which I knocked or rang the bell.
A man and woman at different homes both said they had seen people coming and going at the house, but did not know them.
I drove to the high school James Earl was attending two blocks away and went to the front office.
All I sought was confirmation that he was still a student, but could not get that much as student information is confidential.
Returning to the house, I wrote out a note and stuck it inside the front door, asking Debbie and Randy to call us immediately.
Then we headed back to Kingman.
There was no reply until Debbie's call, which left me stunned.
She said she had come by our house one day in November to surprise Colleen with a birthday present.
We apparently were not home, and she had not received any mail or notes from us.
They had not moved and their phone is in working order now.
They have been going through some personal problems, which are in the process of being resolved.
Debbie expressed regret at being out of touch for so long.
We look forward to them visiting us sometime this month.
Those two phone calls meant more to us than any material item.
It was a very Merry Christmas.
Terry Organ is the Miner's education, health and weather reporter.