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!

I WILL FOREVER LOVE YOU, ROBERT EDWARD ROSE!!!

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.

“Stolen” Time

You had Friday, July 16, off so you came home for the weekend. We each had counted the days until we got to be together again. You rode to Ashland with a friend from Ohio who was going home on leave and then went back to Norfolk on the bus. I thought, and not think it all the more, how sweet it was that you missed me so much that you were willing to take the bus back. That was a long trip.

We didn’t do anything grand during these days, but each day with you during this time deepened our love and our relationship. We were both sure that God smiled on us when he brought us together and that he blessed our relationship because the love came so naturally. We talked a lot through the years how we loved each other from the very beginning. You said you knew you loved me during or after our second date, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Long Distance

July 1, 1982, began the long distance part of our relationship. We wrote each other at least daily and called frequently, but we had to be careful about calls because this was in the day of long-distance charges. Each minute ran up the phone bill.

Bob talking to me on the phone in his room on base.

We each kept our letters – mine in a fancy box with blue flowers, yours in a shoe box. We always laughed at how that represented our personalities. I was thrilled that you were romantic enough to keep yours. I would soon learn that you were much more romantic that I.

This first separation lasted two weeks (July 1 – July 15). You were on the ship during this time and wrote such romantic letters. I love to read them over and over. It’s as if I can hear your voice and recall your wonderful sense of humor directly from your mouth.

Bob at his desk on the ship

The ship went to New York over the July 4th holidays, and you got to see two Broadway shows. Because you were in uniform, you got to go backstage. Raquel Welch, the star of “Woman of the Year,” signed your program and kissed you. You loved that story and told it several times through the years.

The teen group from church went to King’s Island one weekend during this time. Mom chaperoned, so Jason went along as Dad worked Saturdays. We all wrote a postcard to you. I always thought it was so special how the family embraced you from the very beginning. Mom always said that you were easy to love, because you were so genuine and giving.

I spent a large part of my time already planning the wedding You always poked fun at our “over the top” wedding, but you actually loved how girly-girl I am.

Last Days before the long-distance relationship

This time (June 27-30, 1982) was spent being together and taking care of your car. We were engaged and had weathered a storm, so we seemed an “old” couple by now even though we had truly only met two weeks before.

I remember the night of June 30 as clearly as if it was yesterday. We were saying our good-byes for the night as you were leaving the next day to return to the ship. You had to be back by July 2, because the Saipan was going to New York for a PR tour over the July 4th holiday. As we were saying our good-byes, I clumsily said, “Why do you have to leave?” You looked at me confused as if to say “Because I have to get back to the ship”. I explained that I meant leave me, not simply leave. I was worried that this might just be a “summer thing” for this handsome sailor. You reminded me that you loved me and would never leave me. Your words were so genuine that I knew at that moment that we were forever. So, even though I was sad that you were leaving, I was so happy that I found my forever love.

The next day, July 1, I drove you to the airport. You and Don couldn’t get your car in working order, and we hadn’t heard anything from insurance so we hadn’t bought a new one yet. So, you flew back. I wrote my address along with “I love Robert E. Rose” on the airline folder, which is the start of the letters in the box.

This two weeks was the happiest I had been in my life. I was so happy to have fallen in love with you. It happened so naturally that I was sure God sent you to me.

Our First Trip

We left early Saturday (June 26, 1982) morning to make the most of day. We decided not to stay the night as we were still so early in our relationship. We visited at their apartment, where we talked and simply visited most of the day.

Toward the evening, around 6:00, we headed back to Ashland. At the end of the street was a four way stop. You reached over to kiss me after you stopped, then pulled out. A couple of UK football players barreled through the stop and hit us sending the car spinning. After the car came to a stop, we both got out to talk to the people in the other car and assess the damage. We watched them throw at least one case of beer in the field on the other side of the street before they even bothered to come over and talk to us. They then insisted that you had pulled out in front of them and wouldn’t accept responsibility for drinking, under age at that, and driving nor running the stop sign.

Before the police arrived, a camera crew happened to pass by. The passenger got out of the van to ask if anyone was hurt. When we said no, he got back in the van, and they proceeded on their way. We always thought that was interesting, but it was the early ’80s and the beginning of biased/entertainment journalism. We would later lament the loss of unbiased journalism.

Once the police arrived, the football players kept to their story, so the accident was written as your fault. I still feel that it was pitiful that the police took the story of the UK football players over a US Navy Sailor. Yet, we always thought the accident was due to the kiss. You thought you would have probably seen that they weren’t going to stop had you not been distracted.

It was an expensive kiss. The car was totaled, so we had it towed to Ross and Mendy’s and they drove us back to Ashland. You sat up and allowed me to lay in your arms with my body stretched out in the seat so that I could sleep. I still remember the comfort of laying in your arms after than rough evening. That was the first time that you put your feelings and needs beneath mine. Your car was totaled, but you were concerned about me. That would be a running theme throughout our journey. You always put me first and took such care to take care of me.

When we got to Ashland, Ross and Mendy dropped us off at Mom and Dads. I took you to your parents’ house in the car Kim and I were sharing.

First week as Fiancés

We were just thrilled to have this week together. I was honored that you used the last of your leave on the ship to be with me. We were an engaged couple now, and it seemed both of us were over the moon. We spent every waking hour together.

On Tuesday night, I had a Mary Kay part as I tried my hand as a consultant this summer. You were going to go down to the park to play basketball during the party, but on your way you passed a car pulled over to the side of the road that seemed to need help. This was long before cell phones where these people could call for help, so you pulled over to offer a hand. After checking out the car, you realized that they just needed gas. This was on Rose Road, less than a mile from Mom and Dad’s house where I was having the party, so you went down the the little market at the end of the road, Lyon’s (that has since gone out of business) to get a gas can and gas. They didn’t sell gas cans, so you came back to Mom and Dad’s to see if Dad had a gas can. I was pleased, because the girls at the party were church friends, and they got to meet you. They thought you were so handsome. They were also impressed with your good deed. I was so proud to be your girl. Dad, of course, had a gas can. You took it and went back to help the guy. By the time you were finished, the party was over. You never made it down to the park, but I was thrilled that my friends go to meet my handsome hunk.

Sometime during this week, Ross and Mendy invited us down to their apartment in Lexington, so they could officially meet me. Since we just had one weekend before you had to go back to the ship, we planned the trip for that Saturday, June 26. More on that next time.