After my father went off to war in 1944, my mom and my sister and I rented a sweet little house on Charles Street in Point Loma, near the US Naval base at Coronado. That place was so nice. We had a cat and a loquat tree and some chickens and my mom hung out with the rest of the Navy wives whose husbands were stationed in the Pacific.
I played down by the water, bathed in the glow of my mother’s love and didn’t have a care in the world. And almost every day, we got a letter from my father.
“How much I miss you!” my father would write. “I think about you three constantly. I can’t wait to see you again!” It was like getting letters from Santa Claus every day.
Good grief. I was SO happy.
And then the spit hit the fan. My father came home. And my father tried to run our house like he ran his LST-50 back in Occupied Japan. Plus we moved to Los Angeles and then on to a solid Republican town just south of SF while he hunted for work. Bye bye paradise, hello concentration camp — or so it seemed to me at the time.
My sister rebelled by becoming an obnoxious brat. She got into so much trouble all the time that she used to always carry a paperback book in the back pocket of her jeans so that the wire coat hanger she got spanked with wouldn’t sting so much.
I rebelled by becoming wishy-washy. Whatever anyone said to me, I would agree with. I also learned to lie, back-pedal, manipulate, pass the buck, let other people take the fall, hide under the bed, become two-faced, whine a lot and flip-flop.
And I learned how to do all this just from being a lieutenant commander’s kid. Imagine what I would have been like if I had been an admiral’s child!
JANE STILLWATER can be reached at her blog: http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com