My last story told of a long walk with two little munchkins. That winter was a time of great satisfaction, in spite of the fact that I was searching for suitable employment. We lived way back in the sticks, heated our home with an airtight wood stove, and lived off of some food storage, made home made breads, wheat gluten, corn flakes, and butchered some of our chickens. The munchkins learned how to slide down a snowy hill, and how to avoid things like parked jeeps. Money was tight, and presents were home made, as was our Nativity scene. Lack of cable TV, and inexpensive games, play, and a lot of work to do around the home brought us close together as a family.
The munchkins grew in size, and experience, trying every new thing they could come up with, including, trying to ride our very large and powerful yellow Labrador Retriever. After a year struggling to make ends meat, I received a letter from the U.S. Navy, asking me to re-enlist. They offered me a sum of money as an incentive. I had a wife, and two munchkins to support, so I re-enlisted for four more years of military service. We drove back from Spokane, to San Diego where I had to go through a short “boot camp” as I had been out of the Navy for about two years. Because I was married, and had previous service time, I was allowed to leave at five p.m. and go home every night. I liked that.
One afternoon, I walked from the base to the parking lot where my wife, who was very pregnant, sat in our car waiting for me. There was a sailor standing next to her open window. I could tell from his body language, and my wife’s very negative reactions to him, that he was coming on to her. She saw me, and pointed me out to this character. I think he saw the look on my face as menacing because he hot-footed it out of there in a hurry.
When i got in the car, DW related the sailors attempts to get her to go with him. She’d told him that she was happily married, and was very pregnant and that she wasn’t interested. He persisted until he saw me coming. Frankly, I was amazed by this guy. I kind of wished he hadn’t taken off. Remember the Judo training I’ve spoken of. Let’s just say that it gives you options.
I was soon released from the mini-boot camp and transferred to my regular duties, which were identical to those I’d had before getting out the first time. I was in the same shop, on the same base, and with the same sailors I had left. It was less than a year before I was transferred to sea-duty and stationed aboard and aircraft carrier for a six month cruise. Our third child had been born, a beautiful little boy. He was about six months old when I had to go. There were a lot of tears from my DW and munchkins. I had a lump in my throat the size of a basket ball, or at least it felt like it.
The first week away from my family was very hard. But I had a job to do and quickly overcame the sea and home sickness. The cruise went well. I sent all but two dollars of my paycheck home to DW, to pay the bills and take care of the munchkins. I kept the two bucks every payday as it was what I needed for soap and shampoo while on ship. When I was going to have access to a port, I’d send a letter to DW, six to seven weeks before we got there, and ask her to send me enough money to get something for the family if any amazing opportunities arose. I was able to get a beautiful Korean China set while in Pusan Korea. We had the opportunity to take a tour of a factory where the China was made. I watched the artisans hand blow vases, drinking goblets, and other beautiful products. They made it look so easy. We also went to a factory where graphite fishing rod blanks were made, I could have picked up blanks for two dollars apiece, where the same product would have cost me ten to fifteen times more if purchased in the U.S. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t purchase some.
We also traveled to the Philippines, where I purchased a great SLR camera, a Tiffany style lamp for dirt cheap, and a sound capable 8mm movie projector. VCR’s and VCR cameras weren’t invented quite yet. In Australia, I was able to purchase a beautiful gray opal for fifteen dollars. It was appraised for considerably more when I got it back to the States. I made some very good friends on that cruise, and had a pretty good time. Even so, I couldn’t wait to get back home. The day finally came when we finally docking back in San Diego. As was normal after a crew, the dock area was packed with families awaiting the return of their husbands, brothers, and fathers. I’d purchased a pair of binoculars while over seas, so that when we were pulling back into port, I could find my family. I found them and saw a little boy with long, blond hair. He was much larger than he had been when I’d left, and was walking. That lump that I’d felt when I’d left six months earlier, well it found its way back into my throat. I was so happy to see my family again. The docking procedure seemed to take forever. But finally, we were allowed to depart the ship. I raced to my family and hugged every one of them. We all drove to Grandma’s house, where my father-in-law-, and my mother-in-law were waiting. It was a wonderful reunion. And it was at that moment, when I was together again with my family, that I knew I couldn’t stay in the Navy. I couldn’t be away from them. In that six months at sea, my youngest munckin had grown from a baby to a toddler, and I had missed it. Fortunately, My sea duty was up before another long cruise arrived for my squadron. Except for a few training cruises, each lasting about two weeks, I spent the rest of my Navy carreer on shore, and went home every night to my DW and munchkins.
Well, I’m out of time once more and so bid you farewell for now. So enjoy your family. They are the most important people in your life.
There is no success outside the home that justifies failure within the home.