Tell someone that you received a middle-of-the-night phone call, and most people will ask you what went wrong. But if you have a son in the Navy who is deployed to the Persian Gulf, all phone calls home seem to come in the middle of the night.

Since there are no cell phone towers in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, many sailors choose to cancel cell phone service while they are deployed. They usually don’t get access to a phone unless they get to go on shore. And since they are half a world away, there is a 12-hour time difference.

Somehow they always seem to get to a port midafternoon their time—or middle of the night our time. When the deployment period was ending, we would anxiously wait for a call from Hawaii when they reached a port on their way back to San Diego.

But the first call usually came from the security department of a credit card company asking to speak to our son. I would explain that my son could not call until he got a new cell phone and that he was in the Navy and returning from the Mideast. Then I would ask if they could tell me if he had bought a phone or chose to go to a restaurant or a bar first. They always laughed at that question.

Writing this column made me think of all the friends that I haven’t called for a while. Is there anyone that you owe a phone call?