Today (Friday) we ate quite well. Not that we haven’t eaten well on previous days lately, but today we ate exceptionally well. The Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort, where we currently reside, had a package for all of us old USS Cleveland sailors that included tickets to eat at The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood buffet. The web site shows the innards better than I can but here’s a quick peek at some of our group chowing down in our own private section of the facility.
Pretty much any kind of seafood you desire, especially shrimp, is presented in many different ways. Pretty amazing. Calabash, by the way, is a word that describes food in this way: Calabash seafood typically refer to seafood that is lightly breaded (usually dipped in milk & then a combo of flour & cornmeal) and then fried. Usually in a calabash-style restaurant you will get huge portions, oftentimes with a combination plate of several types of seafood – shrimp, various kinds of fish, crab, oysters, etc.. and hushpuppies. Calabash is also the name of a small town in North Carolina near the southern border north of Myrtle Beach. Driving on Myrtle Beach one is assaulted with all manner of calabash restaurants. It gets a bit confusing after a bit. Just remember, it’s all good. I’m happy to report, too, that none of it caused my blood sugar to spike. I think another reason it was OK is that Diane was very careful about what I ate. She takes really good care of me.
I would have liked to stay a little longer at the buffet but we had to leave in order to make it to the Alabama Theater before 7 pm to see ONE The Show. It was truly a great show and is highly recommended by all of us who attended.
We weren’t allowed to take photos of the show so this is the only picture I got of the inside. It’s special because it has Diane in it.
The host of the show, Greg Rowles, who won Ed McMahon’s Star Search Show as the Best Male Vocalist 25 years ago, honored all of us USS Cleveland sailors and even provided a lot of the ship’s history. Pretty special evening.
After the show we all headed back to the Sea Mist for our last night at that facility. After breakfast Sunday morning we packed up and drove all the way north to Hilton’s Ocean 22 high rise. It took 11 minutes. We fiddled around a while, driving north to an enormous RV park, with a very small dune that one must traverse to access the beach. It looks like a place we should visit.
From the looks of things, fishing off the beach is a requirement.
Yes, we’ve embarked on another journey. Some of you may be thinking that, considering the sad time we had in Maui recently, we would have given this trip a little more consideration before committing. But, we’ve actually been trying to get some time at Myrtle Beach for the last five years or so but something always comes up that messes it up. Mostly the deterrents come in the form of hurricanes this time of year.
This time, we made it all the way. Here’s proof …
OK, yes it’s the baggage carousel at the Charleston airport, but that’s the airport we flew to and rented the car that got us to Myrtle Beach. Another reason we flew to Charleston was so we could reconnect with our luggage which got there 8 hours before us.
Here’s what happened – there are no non-stop Alaska flights from Portland to Charleston, but there is one from Seattle. So, all we had to do was get to Seattle early enough to make the connection so that we could arrive on the east coast at a decent time of the day. The reservations she got allowed us almost an hour to get to the connecting flight in Seattle that would arrive in Charleston at 4:30 pm their time. If you think about that for a minute, considering the 3-hour time difference, we would arrive at 1:30 pm St. Helens time. Then, figure in flight time from Seattle you can see we had to leave pretty early.
We got up at 3:30 am to catch the PDX to SEATAC leg that left at 6 am. The first snafu we encountered was when TSA kicked us out of the precheck line because out KTN wasn’t printed on our ticket. We knew that but had the letters from TSA as proof that we had KTNs. That’s Known Traveler Number in case you didn’t now. Not good enough for the ambitious little guy who insisted that it had to be on our boarding pass. The first time this happened, on the way to Maui, the TSA agent would have let us continue if we knew the KTN. Not this guy, however.
So, we returned to the ticket counter and fixed it with some manual interventional assistance of a cheerful Alaska Agent.
We breezed right through.
Got to Seattle in plenty of time to make our connection then ‘things’ kinda went south with regard to customer service and scheduling accumen of managers at the SEATAC International airport who parked our plane on the runway for 30 minutes because there wasn’t an open gate for us.
There we sat, with 12 other folks who needed to make the connection, watching the clock tick away, diminishing the probability of making the flight to Charleston.
We finally parked at N15 about 7:20 pm and our connecting flight was scheduled to depart at 7:45. Our pilot and crew assured us that everyone knew we were on the ground and the reason we were late and that they would hold the plane for us.
It was a huge lie. We got to the next gate, D21, in time, but management had already filled our 12 seats with standbys and sent the plane on it’s way, 20 minutes early. Kinda makes your day, ya know?
Then we were sent to the Alaska Customer Service desk near gate D2 that is manned by folks who are accustom to dealing with upset people and apparently don’t see the need to be friendly any longer. We 12 were demoted to 3rd class citizens (whatever that is) and the fact that we missed the flight due to decisions made by the airline.
The two agents behind the counter were working to re-book flights for misplaced people but their hearts weren’t in it and they weren’t very careful about information they doled out. For us, for instance, after they professed to have got us seats on an American Airline plane leaving shortly, gave us a confirmation number and sent us to gate D8 and told us to talk to one of the AA agents there to get us seat assignments. We made that trek and learned that the confirmation was invalid and that the flight we were supposedly put on was full. No seats available.
Back to D2 and customer service. At different agent made another attempt and actually got us seats on a plane leaving in a few hours for Dallas. From there we were booked on an AA flight to Charleston which was to arrive at 11:30 pm.
Interestingly, our bags were transferred from the Portland flight to the original non-stop connection with no problem, but they couldn’t delay 10 minutes to wait for the people who owned them. That’s why our luggage arrived in Charleston on time.
And, they didn’t have any trouble delaying the newly acquired flight, for some reason, which pushed our arrival time in Dallas a little later yet. That was OK because we had a 2-hour layover in Dallas.
Once in Dallas the flight to Charleston was delayed twice ensuring our arrival time wa pushed beyond midnight. Yippee!
By this time both Diane and I were to the point that we could see humor in all the things that had happened to us during this trip. It was like a comedy of errors so it was easier on both of us to accept the comedy of the situation instead of being bitter and upset.
Now, the good part of all this. On both of the flights we met passengers who went out of their way to accommodate both Diane and I by switching seats so we could sit together. You see, with all this switching going on, we were considered standby passengers with no real guarantee we’d get on an airplane. Because of that, we were placed in seats that were rows apart because, you see, all those other passengers made their flight on time.
Our fellow passengers made it all OK and we had a great time talking with them. Had we caught our original flight we would have missed that opportunity which would have been kinda sad.
When we got to Charleston we sent directly to the AA office in the baggage claim area to retrieve our on-time bags. The cheerful agent said, “oh, you were on that Alaska flight …” which kinda told the entire story.
After getting the bags we went looking for a cab because I was told the car rental agents closed up at 11:0-0 pm. But, we saw some lights on at the rental area and saw people turning in to that area. There was hope, after all. You see, we had a car reserved for the trip so we could get to the Air Force Inn at Joint Base Charleston for the night, then drive to Myrtle Beach in the morning.
When we turned the corner and saw lines of people at pretty much all the various rental agencies, and way off in a corner was Enterprise, with one agent working and a line of 2 people ahead of us. It was a miracle.
Long story short, we got a car and made it to Joint Base Charleston with no problem. It was only about 5 miles away, so we didn’t expect problems.
At the Air Force Inn we had a reservation and the agents were waiting for us. We got our room, spent the night, and took off for Myrtle Beach earlier this morning. We fudged our check out time beyond 11:00 am because it was so late when we checked in (1:30 am or so) and stopped at a really busy restaurant for lunch. It was the Long Point Grill in Mount Pleasant, SC for lunch. It was absolutely wonderful and the place was jumping. I had shrimp and linguine. Diane had a chicken BLT sandwich and a cup of tomato and artichoke soup. It as good, but getting it meant she could only eat half her sandwich. So, of course, I ate the other half.
The drive to Myrtle Beach was very relaxing and it was great sailing along without a care, our worries behind us. Life was good.
Now we’re here on the 9th floor, at 1200 S. Ocean Blvd with an ocean view.
How sweet it is.
Oh ya, the reason we’re here is to attend the 22nd annual reunion of the USS Cleveland Reunion Association. So, there will be more news later.
… to my bride. She pointed out that I failed to share vital information about grandchildren other than The Littles in my last post. I was actually aware of that omission at the time but was suffering from a severe case of something yet to be determined. As soon as I come up with a viable cause, I’ll certainly let you know. Right away.
Lydia and Cedric were the ones missing from my previous post. I guess I was too focused on The Littles. Lydia and Cedric are, after all, full grown adults now. Still, they are our children’s children and we love them, too.
It was Friday morning when Lydia drove into Big Eddy toting surprises in the form of Cedric and Ceiarra. Everyone knew that Cedric’s ship, the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), was in port at Bremerton, WA but didn’t expect him to be fetched for a visit this soon. Lydia drove up Thursday afternoon when she got off work and drove him back to St. Helens. After resting for the night they made the arduous 20 miles trip to Big Eddy to hang out with everyone. It was especially meaningful for Jennifer who commented the first day that this was the first Family Camp ever when they didn’t have kids with them. Then some kids showed up. It was great. Including Ceiarra was great, too.
Sadly, I was pretty lax about getting photos compared to what I used to do. Guess the finger I use to snap photos was worn out. Anyway, it was good to have Cedric and Ceiarra show up. The Littles were especially happy about it.
Nashville. What is there about Nashville I can share that you haven’t heard before? Probably nothing, unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life.
OK. That was rude. Or was it? There might be something positive about living under a rock for a long time. I can’t think of one right now but something might come to me later.
We got here yesterday (Tuesday). By the time we got to the hotel it was 8-ish local time and well past our normal dinner time of 4-ish. We’re staying at The Inn at Opryland, a Gaylord hotel. That’s what’s on my room key … “The Inn at Opryland, a Gaylord Hotel“. It’s even on their website that way which leads me to believe that someone named Gaylord owns a bunch of property in and around Nashville and wants everyone to know it. That’s an opinion, of course, but that name is attached to a lot of different kinds of businesses in the area. So, I think I’m correct on at least half of my stated opinion.
In case you’re wondering about why Diane and I are in Nashville, I’ll tell you. We’re attending the 2018 gathering of the USS Cleveland Reunion Association. Yes, another reunion of crew members of a ship I served on. A gathering of the survivors. The last one of these we attended, in Bremerton, just a few weeks ago, for DD-808, one of the crew members died at the reunion. Turned out it wasn’t the festive event it was supposed to be. Hopefully, that won’t happen this time.
Our friend, Yolanda, was in the lobby talking with a few who had arrived earlier. Yolanda is the widow of one of our members who passed away a number of years ago but she continues to attend these gatherings. Maybe you’ve seen her as Anne Betancourt. She’s an incredibly nice lady.
Now, where was I? We had just arrived, and we were hungry. And the hotel, Gaylord’s hotel, conveniently has a restaurant on the main floor called the Opryland Backstage. So, we paid it a visit and learned a couple of things. First, the food is really good; Second, they have excellent live entertainment. A fellow who called himself Jeff Dayton picked and sang for the room throughout our meal, playing pretty much any song requested by the crowd in the room. He was pretty awesome. After reading his bio on Wikipedia I understand why.
Our waitress last night was Maria who is from Rochester, Minnesota. She is not tall, blond, and obviously a hard worker. After watching her scurry around for a while I asked her if she was a singer and she said she was and wanted to know how I knew. It was just a guess. I figured an attractive young girl from Minnesota, working as a waitress in Nashville, probably had aspirations of a musical career. She told us she sings in the restaurant once in a while and we let her know we hoped we might have the chance to hear her before we leave. Interesting evening and a great hamburger.
We slept in a little bit today and missed breakfast so mosied across the street to the Cracker Barrel thinking we might encounter some of the crew we came to see. That didn’t happen, but we had a pretty good meal then jumped in the SUV that Diane rented for us, a Nissan Pathfinder, and went looking for Belle Meade Plantation. It was #1 on a list of places to see in Nashville that Diane found someplace.
It wasn’t difficult to find and we both really enjoyed the tour. A young lady named Kellan led a group of us through the mansion and explained the history of the family who lived there and how they started out on the property. It was a lovely story that covered a great deal of ground and I was totally blown away with her presentation. It was just fun listening to her share her incredible wealth of information in such detail. True, she’s no doubt done this dozens of times, but still, she was really interesting.
After touring the mansion we walked around the grounds for a while, got all sweaty from the humidity, and called it a wrap, got in the rental SUV, cranked up the A/C and headed back to the hotel. Of course at this time it was rush hour in Tennessee so it wasn’t a quick trip. We didn’t mind. The scenery is quite nice here when you slow down and look around.
Tomorrow the reunion officially starts and I may have more interesting stuff to share. But, for today, this is it and it’s time for bed.
Hi. In case you’re wondering, it appears that I’m going to survive the grueling sciatica affliction to which I was subjected due to the incredibly hard seats in the EOU gym during Maryssa’s graduation. That was on June 16th – FLASH! I need to share, right here, that June 16th is absolutely correct and I just pulled that date out of thin air BEFORE I checked it. I think I’m going to give myself a little star. Yessir! I’m getting a star!
Regarding my ongoing battle with sciatica pain, I must report that over the past 3.5 weeks I’ve had numerous occasions where I was almost pain-free. Every time that happened I figured it would be OK to do some work outside which undid all the good up til then. I should have listened to Diane. She’s was always saying, “stay on the couch or go take a nap”. Really, she told me that but I had a hard time with it because I couldn’t help thinking about all the outside chores that weren’t getting done while I snoozed away. I finally acquiesced to her demands and have since become very comfortable with napping pretty much any time of the day, guilt free.
Another setback was caused by my unauthorized participation in a marathon on the 4th of July in downtown St. Helens. Jennifer, our daughter, and Lydia, her daughter, were participating and asked Diane to join them on this trek around town. Much to my surprise, she agreed. Jennifer said she already bought the costumes for the dogs and had tutus for her, Lydia, and Diane. Sadly, I didn’t get a tutu.
The marathon had a name … The Underachiever .4K Marathon. Yes, that’s a .4K. Jennifer was in charge of Bronson while Diane and Lydia shared turns with Ziva which left me to bring up the rear, hobbling as fast as I could. When it was all said and done, huffing around every corner looking for the finish line, I finally found it after only 2 hrs 27 mins. Diane and the kids, being much younger and less prone to take small breaks along the way, finished in about 30 minutes.
This is the way our July 4th began …
Then we got all dressed up for the marathon …
Marathon starting line – runners went first.
Diane and Jennifer bringing up the rear … I don’t know where Jeran was at this point, but he was there.
Here’s Jeran with Lydia and Bronson. Bronson looks absolutely ecstatic about all the commotion, doesn’t he? There was some doubt about Bronson’s willingness to walk all that way, especially while wearing that hat, but he did well. Another danger was the possibility of encounter someone on a skate board. Given the opportunity, he will chase down the rider and take the board away from him. Skaters have learned to not ride past the Walters house.
Ziva was interested in all the other dogs, of course …
This was Diane saying, “Don’t do it!”
Getting untangled …
First stop, the Krispy Creme Lady …
Next stop was the Running Dog Brewery for a beer, or a fantastic locally made root beer. Truly the best root beer I’ve ever tasted.
Waiting in line for treats.
Still waiting in line …
… and, still waiting in line …
The race finished with a fashion show where Ziva won 2nd place. Judging was based on audience applause and Ziva’s ovation was the loudest. The judge, however, was obviously biased and gave it to a young girl and her dog who were wearing matching tutu’s. I knew I should have had a tutu!
The next day Diane thought it would be fun to have lunch on the Roof overlooking the Columbia River. It’s a new eating facility that, thankfully, has an elevator that drops visitors off at the bar. It was a perfect day and the food was great. They serve all manner of alcohol as well as sandwiches on hogie rolls. Good food, but they didn’t have ham. I wanted ham. Instead, I ate their version of a reuben which wasn’t bad. The view was awesome.
Straight out from the venue is Sand Island where the cities fireworks are ignited. No doubt it was loud and colorful the previous evening from this location. The far beach is the Washington side of the Columbia River.
Diane wanted to capture the flag in front of the old court house.
Last Sunday Diane and I took a trip to Bremerton, WA to deliver Cedric back to his ship, the USS Nimitz, America’s oldest super carrier. We didn’t leave until 2000 so it was a quiet and uneventful trip. We were treated to this sunset as we made our way north which made the trip worth it all by itself.
Instead of turning around and coming right back home, we booked a room at the Navy Gateway Inn and Suites on the Naval Base where we lounged until almost 1100 the next morning. Then we drove home.
After arriving home I had a short nap then picked up Jennifer and Lydia for another artistic adventure at a local school. It was fun as are all events that I get to share with my girls. My painting is the one on right. I think I could have done a better job if it hadn’t been for the two young girls at the table in front of us who were having way too much fun. They distracted me.
It was a good day.
On Tuesday I took my bad back to the golf course to ride around in a cart with Doug and Junior. Every once in a while I’d get out and smack a golf ball just as hard as I could, as did D and J. They were more serious about form and did better than me, but it turns out when I get enough rest and can hit a golf ball a long way. I can putt pretty good, too. It’s everything between the drive and the putting that gives me problems. Still, it’s fun to visit with the guys.
Yesterday, Wednesday, I had a visit with my VA primary care doctor, Dr. Gilbert. She’s been taking good care of me for a few years and this was just a followup so we didn’t have time to talk about everything new that’s cropped up since our last visit. So, I have another appointment next month to address my back. I’m getting my MRI, one of my most favorite things in the world to do. Yessir, stuff me in that tube, the one that tightens around you and squeezes the life out of you. Thankfully, they give me Valium so I can make it through without screaming too much.
After the doctor visit, we went to the Black Bear Diner on TV Highway for lunch. Rick and Jody joined us. Diane had a croissant tuna sandwich, and I had a California Burger.
Rick and Jody thought it was pretty funny and didn’t think I could actually compress it enough to get it in my mouth, but I fooled them. It was an excellent hamburger.
R&J had already eaten so they each just wanted a piece of pie. When it was delivered to the table it was evident karma was being observed because I got the last laugh. Turns out a piece of pie at the Black Bear Diner is a little bigger than a slice.
I’ve been sitting at my computer for about an hour paying bills and checking emails to see if I’ve received any task requests. When I was done I pondered the direction I should take for the remainder of my day. Diane abandoned me again, to accompany Jennifer to Jeran’s Senior Assembly, then off to PDX to shop for “stuff”. So, it was either put on my work clothes so I could go out and pull a bunch of weeds that aren’t going anywhere (but up), or continue sitting here to chat a bit. Not a difficult choice because I did the weed ‘thing’ the last two days and found it difficult to move around at the end of those days.
So, here I am.
I also visited Rimidyl.com to register Panzee’s latest receipt for her meds. Not cheap stuff, but the company gives back a little by keeping them informed about how much customers have paid. In our case, Panzee received 60 100MG pills for $120.95. Just so you know, Rimidyl is like ibuprofen for dogs to help with arthritis pain. She gets it every day and she’s still getting around pretty good. Slowing down, for sure, and stairs are getting to be a huge problem, but she is still toughing it out. When she gets to the point where she can’t get up to go outside we’ll have to make a hard decision. Not looking forward to that.
The Littles visited for a while last week and that’s always fun. They love to run and play in the yard so it’s difficult to catch all three of them together. They just keep growing for some reason. Love those three a ton. They are, in case you forgot, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie:
Sailor Cedric is making his way down from Bremerton to visit quite often. He’s lucky that his ship is stationed so close to home. I was never that lucky. The closest we ever got to home was Long Beach, CA. Not a short trip. It’s good to see him, always.
Last Tuesday was a special day because we met up with Ashlee Holm for lunch. Her last name isn’t Holm any more because she’s married, but that’s the way I have her listed in my contacts list. She is working for her doctorate for physical therapy at Pacific University and her twin is still in Wisconsin also working on her doctorate in the medical field. Her Grandparents are our good friends Butch & Margo who we’ve known since the late 70’s when we were stationed aboard the USS Barbey (FF-1088). And no, they never made a USS Ken, in case you’re wondering. It was good to see Ashlee and feel blessed that she senses a family connection with us even though we truly aren’t related and we never knew her as a child. It’s just one of those old friend connections that has carried on. I’m gonna have to ask her again what her married name is. I do know that she’s married to Michael and they have a dog named Rusty.
Yesterday I was allowed to go golfing with JR and Doug. Doug called to warn me that JR had another stroke since the last time we went out so he may not be able to make it all the way around. But, he was going. As it turned out, JR had the best score of all. His only ailment from the two strokes, after being paralyzed on his right side both times, is some weakness on his right side. Other than that, you’d never know he was having such a problem. To put this in perspective, after his first stroke we golfed on Wednesday, May 30. Between then and yesterday he had another one and recovered enough to go out and beat both me and Doug. Pretty amazing. I’ve shared lots of photos of the Peal Boys in previous posts so I didn’t take any ‘people’ photos yesterday. But, here’s one from better days …
Here’s one from yesterday that I took of Doug’s ball. I was in a cart alone so went out ahead and found his ball and marked it so he’d be able to find it.
He removed the sticks, of course, and made a fantastic recovery shot into the #3 fairway but it wasn’t enough to beat JR.
Yesterday was also a day that Jeran enjoyed his Senior Day at school. He and the rest of his class were taken on a tour of the elementary and middle schools wearing their graduation duds. Jeran was very popular with the kids because most of them know him from his work at the family’s church. I think Jennifer had the sign because folks who don’t know her usually think she’s his sister.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Diane and Jennifer went shopping, leaving me all alone. The rule in that kind of situation, as you all know, is NO POWER TOOLS. I generally abide by the rule but with no supervision, it’s very simple to disregard it. My chosen task, pulling weeds, didn’t require the use of power tools so you’d think I was safe. Before beginning that task I was invited to lunch with Jennifer and Diane before they went to Portland. We ate at the Happy Garden over by Walmart. We took Ruth there when she visited but she got a bad ration of something and didn’t like it much. We were sad that happened. Anyway, I ate all of mine while Diane and Jennifer each ordered the same combination plate and each ate half of what they had. They agreed that they should have ordered just one combo and an extra plate. Seems like someone is always making that comment whenever we eat Chinese, no matter where it’s at.
When we parted ways, we stopped by Walmart so Jennifer could purchase a kayak, one of the gifts for a lucky senior at their party tomorrow night after graduation. It fit just right in my truck. Then I stopped by ACE to see if they had one of those weed burners I see folks using all the time. It’s not a power tool so I was safe. I also bought a 22″ machete that I thought would come in handy to take out the blackberry vines. So, what could go wrong, right?
Actually, I had no trouble with either of those purchases because I was very careful with the machete and couldn’t find a propane bottle that wasn’t connected to something so I could give the burner a try. I was stuck with my Pulaski and machete. I managed to make it all the way through the afternoon without injury. I did all this …
Doesn’t look like much, I admit, but it was brutal work because we have very tough grass, especially when it gets about 4′ tall. This photo also serves to show you Ruth that they heavy equipment in the new housing project really is being used. They just finished paving the road today.
There’s about 40 different kinds of plants in that small plot and it’s surrounded by granite rocks that are good for the Pulaski. I got all the way around, and through this little plot, then came up against the dusty miller (Jacobaea maritima), front right. Unknown to me, when a branch dies on this thing, it’s a weapon of sorts because it creates amazing wounds when one encounters the sharp ends. With the exception of random nicks and dings from the ever-present blackberry vines, this was my only significant injury.
I swear I barely touched that dead branch and this is what it did through the sleeve of my shirt. It happened just before Diane got home so I suppose the occasion for the injury was so I’d have something to show her for the energy I’d expended while she was gone. She wasn’t impressed even a little bit. Hardly worth a place as injuries go. She just looked at it and said, “Huh. I need help unloading the car.” So I helped her unload the car of frozen stuff then, since the wound wasn’t actively bleeding, went back to finish getting all the way around the plot. I should have taken the photo before my shower because it looked way gnarlier covered with dirt and dried blood.
I went through the entire day thinking it was Friday. Not that it matters, but I’m a little bummed that I have to do Friday all over again. On this second Friday we get to go watch Jeran graduate from High School.
When I was 16 my friend, Richard, took me to an archery club he had joined so we could improve our skills and have some fun doing it. The instructor, Mel DeLonais, was a no-nonsense kind of guy who everyone instinctively knew to obey for two reasons: 1) He was either carrying his bow or it was within his reach; 2) He was a dead-on shot; and, 3) He was always right. So, at 16, he was someone we listened to and obeyed. OK, that’s three reasons. There are probably more but those are the ones that rise to the top when I think about him.
Also in attendance at these lessons was his daughter, Diane. She was 13 at the time and I pretty much knew right away that she was going to be my life-long partner. She didn’t know that, of course, because that’s not something you tell a 13-year-old girl. I waited until she was 15 or 16 to that, and fully eligible in many countries to be married. At this stage of life the math is fuzzy but my intentions weren’t. She was a Freshman during my Senior year of High School and we were a couple most of that year and stayed in touch via letters and visits home after joining the Navy her Sophomore year.
Wise beyond her years, she turned me down the first time I proposed citing a very valid reason that she should probably finish High School first. That made perfect sense to me so I let her go to experience those tender years on her own. We stayed in contact over the intervening years as she grew up, went to college, and went to work.
When she was 21 I was home on leave after riding the newly commissioned USS Cleveland from Norfolk, VA to San Diego, CA where it was staged for a trip to Viet Nam. It would be my 2nd deployment to that area of the world. This leave period allowed me to attend my 5th Class reunion and I was poised to make the party on my own as I had no one to take with me. During those years all my High School friends had stayed connected, went to college, and some married each other as everyone knew they would. I was a loner because it’s difficult to find dates while living aboard a ship and being transferred all over the place on a regular basis. The loner part was me spending my time waiting for Diane to finally see the potential in me.
That moment came when I visited mutual friends, Junior (my golf partner today) and his wife Nancy. While I was there Diane showed up. I hadn’t seen her in three years. Once again I was stunned by her appearance into my life but managed myself quite nicely, I thought, visiting for a while then excusing myself to go home.
As I was backing out of the driveway Diane came running out of the house. I stopped to see what she wanted and we chatted a bit as she leaned on the passenger window. This was a Friday. She asked me if I was going to my class reunion and I said “yes, would you like to go?” She responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”
The rest, my friends, is history.
I don’t remember how much time we had left before the ship for deployed to Viet Nam, but we spent every possible moment together. The catalyst for our future was when she came running to my car like she did. It was THE moment in my life when everything came back together, making the world right again. Had that not happened, had I been allowed to drive away without that conversation with her, I’m confident there would have been another moment in time like that in the future. I’m forever glad she finally chose me that day so I no longer had to wait.
When I picked her up for our trip to the reunion, she slid next to me on the bench seat, like she’d always done on our dates years ago, but this was different. It was as if we silently, mutually agreed, that the final decision had been made. We were a couple again. It was a terrific day, and we made the remaining few we had just as great.
Then I was off to San Diego. There was no one on the pier for me as the ship pulled away but I knew Diane would be there in the future. Life was good.
The following April I transferred from that ship off the coast of Viet Nam and flew home to marry my one true love and embark on an incredible adventure that took us from one side of the world to the other more than once – Okinawa to Italy to Florida to Guam to California to Hawaii and more. Now we’ve been home in Oregon since 1989 and don’t plan to make any long trips. We will, however, be making trips around the Northwest to see what we missed during all those years away.
Now, here we are after 50 years. I’m still stunned every time I look at her because what I see is my High School Sweetheart when she was 14.