Good Hearted Woman
by: Garland Davis
To paraphrase Willie and Waylon: ♫She’s a good hearted woman in love with a sea-going man♫
Much has been written about the Navy. About the men, the ships, battles, piers, WestPac, bars, hookers and heaven knows what else. Asiatic sailors spend an inordinate amount of time reflecting on and telling tales about all these things. But, we don’t talk a helluva a lot about those who really loved us. The girls we married. Loving a crazy-assed WestPac sailor took a Good Hearted woman. They are and will always remain among the greatest of God’s creations.
I know you have all seen them waiting on the pier whenever the ship returned to homeport, be it 0200, cold or wet, they would be waiting. Rain…Snow… Hell, alligators could have been falling from the sky and they would have been there. Waiting for what? Waiting for an unshaven, smelly, raggedy-assed idiot who hadn’t showered for three days because of busted evaporators and limited fresh water, hauling a sack of dirty laundry and reeking of sweat and fuel oil.
Those girls couldn’t wait to embrace the smelly guys who poured off the gray behemoth that had just tethered to the pier or out board in the nest. Many holding babies their sailors had never seen in one arm and trying to keep track of a three-year-old waving a sign that says “Welcome Home Daddy.” She was an angel in a sun dress she had made or bought from the mark-down rack at the Navy Exchange. She waited with a smile that dimmed the sun. These girls welcomed their sailors when they came home and stood on that same pier with tears streaming down their faces when the ship left.
Sit back and think about it. That lady in the kitchen doing the dishes was once the, barely out of her teens, girl who married a crazy assed Third Class North American Bluejacket. All he had to offer was E-4 pay and a few bucks sea pay, poor housing in even poorer neighborhoods, long separations and duty every third or fourth day. She put up with him when he showed up late with a couple of shipmates and two cases of beer. She made them sandwiches and made sure they were up and on their way the next morning.
Later when you were at sea, trying to keep up with the carrier in heavy seas, she was at parent-teacher meetings, school plays, science fairs, little league games, and dental appointments; without you. She carried them to the emergency room when they were sick and or hurt met with the principle when they got in trouble. She did it all without you when it would have been really great to have you there. When you got orders to Hawaii, she arranged for packing household goods and transporting the dogs all while you were at sea.
They should be eligible for sainthood. Think about it…they married guys who spent a good part of their time away from them. They had to play second fiddle to another lady that he had a love/hate relationship with. That lady was hard steel and gray and demanded much of him.
She dined on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before the allotment check came in. She made homemade Christmas and birthday gifts for the kids. Home permanents because the beauty shop cost too much. Unable to visit her Mom and Dad for years because there just wasn’t money for travel.
Dude, do you know what a lucky bastard you are. Do you know what it takes for a woman to put up with the bullshit sandwich that a sailor’s wife is handed? Yet they were strong.
Yes, they were special ladies who loved us. Welcome home with her arms around your neck. Hell, with the fuel oil smell and the sack of dirty laundry, you couldn’t have paid someone to hold you like that who didn’t love you. They actually ordered see-through pajamas and nighties that would make a stripper blush. Just to welcome you home.
They were our angels. Always will be. There should be a statue alongside the “Lonely Sailor” statue of a beautiful young girl in a J. C. Penny’s bargain dress, holding a toddler in one arm and other reaching out to her sailor.
This is for the ladies. God bless you. You supported us, you loved us, and you put up with us. We were crazy. Had to be to live the life and do the things we did. You were the sanity in our world. You are recognized and honored by all of us who stood topside and watched you as we entered and left port.
Your life was hard; it was a hell of a lot rougher than any starry-eyed girl should have to deal with. Your sacrifices and personal hardships will be rewarded in the memories that all faithful and loyal women accumulate and in the deep regard and respect by which you are held by the men who stood on deck and regarded your bargain basement dress as a garment worn by an angel.
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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.