Spring 1983

Spring began the frequent trips back and forth. You now had a car, so could drive.

Yet, before we begin with the memories, I am now convinced that some of the letters are missing as my letters to you stop in October when you get off the ship and your letters to me have big gaps from October to March and stop in early March. I remember that we re-read some of the letters together when we were packing to move into this (Wooded Forest) home and decided to pull some of the more intimate letters in case our children, then seven and nine, ever read them. But, that couldn’t account for all of them. I’m still hoping to run across them some day. We always said about anything that was lost, “I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.” Back to the memories . . .

I took every opportunity to show off my sailor. So, this Spring, I asked you to wear your uniform for Easter. And, this was the time where everybody got a new outfit and wore corsages.

Our first Easter

In late ’82 or early ’83, you were recommended for officer training with glowing scores. You were so proud of the evaluations that you mailed them to me with one of your letters. But, you turned it down because it would require you to re-enlist for at least another three years. You were already thinking about getting out of the NAVY, because you hated the separation from me.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but that’s a big part of our love story. You had loved the NAVY, because it gave you a sense of belonging and adventure prior to our meeting. Yet, now you said that your life began when you met me, and you were willing to to do anything to be with me. And, I felt the same about you. We were a strong team from the very beginning.

Our First Overnight Trip

During Spring Break, I went up to D.C. with you to see our new home. We stayed with Josh Beckham and his fiancé. They were renting a house off-base, and she was just decorating it as well. While you boys were at work, we shopped for bedroom décor. It was becoming real that were becoming a family. We slept in the basement on a blow-up mattress as they didn’t have guest room, but we loved it. We were setting up our home and on our first trip together.

On the way home, we were anxious to be married and decided to elope. Yet, we were driving Dad’s car as the used one you bought from Fred wasn’t as dependable as Dad wanted for his little girl to travel in. So, we called Dad to ask for his permission our of respect for him and because we were driving his car. He said no and explained that I would regret that impulsive decision later. He was right. I loved (and still love the memories of) our wedding.

I thought it special at the time and still even more special in memories that both you and Daddy thought of me as your little girl. You would say that I would always be your little girl, and I was Daddy’s pampered princess. I didn’t have a job until I met you and wanted to make money for our life. Daddy said my job was school. So, even my first job at Balloon World worked around my school schedule. I loved that you didn’t mind and even appreciated that I was high maintenance. You took taking care of your little girl seriously.

Our First Valentine’s Day

You flew home on February 19 to celebrate a belated Valentine’s day and buy the car. The Fields agree to allow payments. As we were visiting with them, we discussed the new wedding date. They (Fred, Linda, and Mike Fields with Ross and Mendy Roberson) were going to be on vacation that weekend. As they were a large part of the wedding party, we moved the date – up, not back, of course. We were already impatient as I mentioned earlier. And, that is how the June 4th date was established.

Our First “New Year”

You were able to come home the four days of January 17-21, 1983. It’s funny! After all these years, I can’t remember the specific things we did when you were home. It was just important that we were together. The falling in love seems to overshadow the ordinary goings on of the day. I just remember being excited you were with me and all the lovey/dovey things that new love brings – too personal to include in this book/blog that our grandchildren may read. 🙂

You were back at the Naval Annex from January 22 thru February 18 as you were trying to save up for a car. We have now realized that the Honda is a lost cause as you were only carrying liability insurance. We’re getting impatient with being separated and have decided that we could get married earlier if we had a car.

You mentioned that you wanted a used car to the Fields. They happened to be selling one and offered to sell it to you for a very reduced price. So, we moved the wedding date from August 20 to June 18. We selected that date, because if was the Saturday following June 15, our first date, so we would have known each other at least a year.

Our First Christmas Season

Since it was the Christmas season, we decided to be a bit more responsible with finances, so you didn’t come home on your days off during December 6 through 18.  You visited with  your Grandma Penn, Aunt Peggy and the rest of your mother’s family in Accokeek, Maryland about twenty minutes away from Arlington, Virginia.  I finished the semester at ACC and continued planning the wedding.  

You came home to celebrate Christmas during December 19-22.  We visited with both families as well as the Fields. We exchanged gifts with each other, but decided to wait until Christmas day to open them. You got me several things but my favorite was a stuffed St. Bernard dog and cat.  They have sat in every bedroom we’ve had and still sit in the armoire of our bedroom as I write this. 

I got you shirts and sweaters, because I loved how you looked in them and because you needed them.

We couldn’t be together for Christmas or New Year, because money was tight and you were the new guy so you couldn’t get leave. It was difficult for both of us, but I was always so thankful that our love was already so deep and secure that letters and phone calls sustained us. I also sent you several batches of cookies.

Short Separations

The best thing about your being stationed at the Naval Annex was that your normal schedule was three days on/four days off, then four days on/three days off. Thus, this began your coming home quite frequently, either flying or driving – whichever the budget afforded at the time. For the first days, you worked Wednesday through Friday (December 1-3), then had the weekend off and flew back home.

The letters represent these many days together. My letters to you end on October 7. I’d like to think the box got full and the rest just got lost over the years, but it seems more plausible – based on our personalities – that I stopped writing because I was seeing you so often and because I was now so caught up in wedding planning. Your letters slowed considerably. Where you were writing at least once daily and sometimes two to three times a day, the letters are now once a week. There is one letter this week – on the airplane back, but I had just seen you for six weeks. And, I was going to see you again in three days.

You flew back for the weekend (December 4-5). You were living on base with a room-mate. There was nothing to do, and you wanted to see me. We talked to my parents about me coming up to see you in DC during the holidays. They didn’t think that was a good idea, and I was so impressed at how you handled the news. I wanted to pitch an immature fit, but you assured me they were just trying to protect me because I was their little girl. You seemed to know from the very beginning what everyone needed, but especially me.

Those inter/intrapersonal skills would support us well through the years, But, most importantly, you were intent on knowing me better than I knew myself. The depths of your love were deep from the start, but just growing through the years. I am so blessed to be your wife!

On Leave and Together

You got a month leave between stations (October 12 – November 31, 1982). We were so excited! You brought me several bouquets of flowers over this time.  We carved our first pumpkin for Halloween and insisted on me sitting with it.  🙂  

I continued going to classes, but you took me and picked me up. Most of the time Kim drove herself, but sometimes she would tag along with us. I remember being so proud to show my handsome fiancé to my friends as you chauffeured me back and forth to school. I also continued my job at Balloon World, and you drove me to deliveries as well. Sometimes you would dress up as well, and they got two for the price of one.

On a warm day in October, we went to Carter Caves with Kim and Barney. They decided to take a hike, where they soon discovered the path was steep and slim. We had such fun listening to Kim yell at Barney the whole way while were leisurely having a picnic and enjoying one another’s company.

The rest of the month was spent visiting with my family, your family and Fields as well as going to the movies and Baskin Robbins several times. We also enjoyed walking around Central Park. Sometimes you would stop to play a pick-up basketball game while I watched. The best part was that we were getting to know one another better and falling deeper in love. Sometime during the month, we learned the NAVY was extending your leave through November 31 because of the Thanksgiving holiday. We couldn’t believe our blessings!

Leaving the Ship

During the next six weeks (September 6 – October 11, 1982),  you were training others on the ship as you were changing stations from the USS Saipan to the Naval Annex/Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.  October 11 was your last day on the ship.  

I was taking classes at Ashland Community College (ACC) and began a job at Balloon World, where I would dress as a clown most of the time but sometimes a character like Yoda and deliver balloons.  

In your September 30 letter, you wrote, “I have a question. When did you decide you were in love with me? I fell in love with you after or during our second date.” We talked about how natural our love story began a lot over the years, but it was so sweet to read it again in your handwriting. I remember you told me you love me for the first time during that date, and I responded that I loved you, too.  So, it was during that second date for both of us.  

The letters tell a much more detailed story, so I won’t reiterate it here.  I remember that time so vividly in our lives.  Fall in love for the first time is so sweet!!! And, we were lucky enough that we were each other’s first and only love!


THE Ring

This story has been told almost as many times as the “engaged in four days” story through the years.

You flew home on Friday, September 3. Your flight landed at 3:30. When you saw me, you handed me a barf bag. I thought you used it for trash and began to drop it in the trash can. You said, “Oh, no, that’s not trash,” in quite a calm manner and told me that my ring was in there. You thought that was hilarious. I, in turn, through that yelling or creating a scene might have been called for as I almost threw away such a priceless treasure. Yet, this was part of your sense of humor.

I immediately opened the bag and put the ring on without giving yo a chance to do the get down on one knee thing. Yet, that was never your personality anyway. You were quietly romantic!

I always thought the timing of this visit was special. You had written, “Which weekend in September would you like me to come home?” I, of course, said the first one, so you made that happen. I was convinced from the very beginning that you could do anything. You were my Superman.

We had set the date for August 20, 1983, at this time to give me time to finish the Summer semester at ACC. Now, the explain why I went to ACC because it is all about us. In the very beginning, I wanted to go to Harvard. My group of nerdy friends from high school decided to all apply to Harvard to see who could get in, first, then who could get the most in scholarships. I got in, but the cost was still going to be more than Mom and Dad could afford even with scholarships. The next choice was Mount Vernon Nazarene College with Jim and a bunch of other friends from church. I applied and was even assigned a room-mate that I had already met when we went up for the regional choral competition held at Mount Vernon as that was the regional college for the Nazarene church. Yet, this was in late Spring 1982 during the school year – before I met you.

When I met you, everything changed. We fell in love so quickly that I wanted to spend as much time with you as possible. If I was at Mount Vernon, you couldn’t visit because I would be in a dorm and Public Displays of Affection (PDA) were frowned upon at Mount Vernon. So, I instantly made a decision to stay home and go to ACC. This was actually good for all. It would be much less expensive for Mom and Dad; I would be home with the family longer before we married; and I could be with you more.

You came into my life and transformed both me and it. I, all of the sudden, had confidence that I never had before. I was never the same after I loved you. You made me better! And, you always said the same thing. We were a great team!!

We spend these few days just being together. We loved going to the movies and stopping at Baskin Robbins just a few stores down from the cinema in the strip mall on U.S. 60 toward downtown. The cinema is still there in 2021. You had to fly back on Sunday. Your flight left at 3:30, which gave us exactly three days together.

Cards, Flowers and Letters

You were back on the USS Saipan from July 19 through September 2. You sent me a dozen roses almost immediately when you got back to ship. I got them on the 21st.

The mail on the ship seemed to bulk ship only a couple days a week, so I took to writing the actual dates on the outside of the envelopes. I was so funny when I got the boxes back out. They spoke so much of our personalities. Yours were piled in a shoe box. Mine were in date order in a fancy box.

This was a long separation, because you were assigned a special project around the end of July and couldn’t leave until it was finished. And, you had taken all of your leaves day, except holidays, to be with me in June. So, it was during this separation that you began the tape exchange. It was originally an Alvin the Chipmunk cassette that you bought at a bargain table. You taped over it on one side with what you were doing and romantic, much stuff. I then taped over you with a return message. We continued that exchange throughout our time apart. We kept the tape until we got it out when we moved into this house (Wooded Forest Road). As we were moving boxes, we rediscovered our boxes and thought it would be fun to listen to that tape. It had been about 14 years ago, so the tape was indistinguishable. It was a bargain tape to begin with after all.

You bought my ring during this time. From both memory as well as re-reading the letters I can’t tell who’s more anxious – You to give it or me to see it. Your love has always been so deep and sincere. It was and continues to be my foundation.

You bought the ring in early August and picked it up on August 14 when you went to the mall with your ship friends, Mose and Chet. Most of part of the “ose” brothers with you, and Chet was a really good friend and was trying to find a girl, too. Those stories are in your letters, but you always told them so much better.