Writing 101 textbook

Starting right this minute, 12:40 P.M. ON Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, the day after my daughter’s 41st. birthday, I am writing.

Christina was born in Middletown Ohio in 1974. She was her mother’s third child. She is my first and only child. The early years were tough for her. she suffered a problem-drinking father ; a mother who did not treat Christina as well as Mom treated her brother Mark.

Hers was a Cinderella story. Especially after the divorce.

I was on active duty having returned to the Navy after a four-year hiatus. I spent more than three years as a single sailor from 1967 to 1970. I spent about 15 months at Kingsville Texas, a master fighter Jet training base for Naval aviators. Then, because I was asked nicely, I volunteered to serve in-country Vietnam.

I place emphasis here because while attending college after my service career, one of my inadequate and unrealistic journalism professors – apparently unfamiliar with things outside academia, said I should take the “in-country” portion out of my story as it was not necessary.

I beg to differ.

While I take nothing away from my at-sea war fighters. They were much more comfortable miles off the coast. I served alongside Navy Seals, Navy Seawolf Attack Helicopters squadrons and many Army helicopter gunships. I carried an M-16 while on patrol and wore a flak jacket on rocket resupply runs through the traffic clogged streets of Saigon. We came under mortar attack on one of the resupply runs to Long Bien, north of Saigon.

Long story short, I was anxious to get out of the Navy after this experience. But like so many decisions, this was not to be my best. After working as a labor reserve steelworker for a couple of years and suffering layoff after layoff. I decided the Navy’s Canoe Club was a better choice after all.

But, I digress. When I returned to active duty, I was pretty much a mess. I can’t say I blamed it on my war experience. Let’s just say I was unsure of my place in the world. I pretty much ignored my wife, Alice. She seemed to prefer her friends, men and women, to spending time with me. I spent three and one-half Years aboard the USS Saratoga, CV-60 as a Navy Air Traffic Controller, the same job as I always had in the Navy.

Alice favored her son Mark and treated Christina as the help. I ignored them all and drank as often as money would allow. When I was in port, it was like a competition between Alice and me to see who could spend money faster. Me guzzling or her buying things we could not afford and treating her friends to dinner on bounced checks.

It all came to an end when I was informed via a distraught Navy wife that her husband was living with my wife – in base-housing – no less while I was overseas on med cruise.

One time, I was notified to report to the Navy Chaplain. He informed me that my wife had notified the Navy she wasn’t getting enough money from me. We checked my pay record which proved she was getting my entire paycheck while I received $18.00 every two weeks in sea pay.

More about Christina in the near future. Her life did not improve for some time thereafter.

About Best Westside News

Blogging 101 - Day one Retired Navy air traffic controller; Vietnam Vet. Used VA benefits to obtain BA in Communications in 1999. Worked as staff writer for several weekly community newspapers. Community activist for Business, social and learning committees. Appointed to Duval County Council on Elder Affairs. Dropped out of all activity to help as a caretaker for my 90-year-old mother and part-time for my brother. I am interested in new ideas for helping elderly people find meaningful lives as they age. New ideas emerge everyday allowing seniors to enjoy a quality of life well beyond the existing nursing home model. The owner of a newspaper I worked for is a 93 year-old confined to a nursing home. She was incredibly strong in business and was known as a political mover and shaker in the town. She is a mere shadow of her former self - totally worn down by a system that offers little more than minimum daily services. My observation is residents forced into the nursing home scenario are totally unhappy. I hope to research and make observations about new ideas such as allowing elderly to remain in their homes and keep basic living services within convenient range for easy access. Examples: stores and entertainment within walking distance. Stimulating balance of young and elderly living nearby leaning on each other for moral and practical support. Elderly might provide a friendly ear on occasion; even baby sit once in a while. Youth being youth might keep elderly feeling young. Maybe young one would consider picking up a loaf of bread for an elder person. Everybody my age (late 60s) has a story about being a caretaker for someone in their family. Their advice is invaluable to those suddenly forced into care-giving, especially those who weren't expecting it. I will look for those who have experience and are willing to share on this site.
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