I'm 63 and my father (who was always larger than life while alive) passed on in the summer of 1985 when I was 37. My life at that time fell apart at that point for me (even though it appeared everything was okay from the outside for about 9 years) and after those 9 years I went through a really terrible divorce while raising 4 kids (two were hers from a previous marriage, one was mine from a previous marriage and one we had together who was then about 5 years old). I knew my father's death had been the trigger mechanism that had eventually ended my marriage. But I also knew it wasn't his fault. Sometimes stuff happens and then we just have to find some way some how to survive it. Getting divorced and remarried was the only way I could survive it.
Though I wanted to believe that my 2nd marriage could survive anything (after all we had already been together 14 years this wasn't the case. I just couldn't believe or come to terms with then that the 7 happiest years of my life (1980 to 1987) could be followed by the 7 unhappiest years (1987 to 1994) all within the same marriage. But as we all know by now "Truth is always stranger than fiction". But when I had a "Panic Attack" one night and thought I was going to die because I couldn't walk or feel my arms or legs much, my now ex-wife didn't seem to care much about what was happening to me. Oh, she called my step-son who was an EMT and fireman asking about my symptoms. But my experience was being abandoned to my eminent death while she was on the phone and crawling to the bath to get in and to die there all alone. So after that I kind of knew I didn't want to be with my then wife anymore. The writing was on the wall. So, finally after about 2 hours I convinced her to take me to the hospital where I was told I was having a panic attack. (never had one before). However, I was convinced I had heart problems. Now almost 20 years later I realize the primary cause was a then undiagnosed hypothyroid condition which eventually in 1999 made me susceptible to a heart virus from which I almost died for about 7 months from. So, finally my now ex-wife and I separated for the last time in June 1994 and after filing for divorce I met my next wife to be in the fall of that same year. At the time I didn't think I could survive a divorce at then age 46. It just seemed to old to me to emotionally survive breaking up a family with 4 kids. Even to this day though my kids and step kids are now 22 to 40 none of them have had children of their own, though 3 of them are married or living with someone and one is in the process of divorce at present. So, I know the awful divorce and custody battle that I had with my ex-wife scarred us all in many many ways. However, now, after remarrying in 1995 I have a new 15 year old daughter that traveled with my now 22 year old daughter and her boyfriend with us to England and Scotland that we got back from a week or so ago.
So, the stories about my Dad I'm telling are because I miss my Dad and by telling his stories it is like he is still here with me once again even though it is now over 26 years later since he passed on.
Most of his stories that I have told before he was between his birth in Morenci, Arizona at the copper mine there and when he was high school age. Now, I would like to tell stories from the next period in his life.
When my Dad was about 24 and his wife about 21 or 22 (he had married when he was 21 and she 17) and his younger brother, Tommy, was about 22 also, he got the bright idea of chartering a yacht and the 3 of them sailing off into the sunset to Tahiti and the Tuomoto Archipeligo. So he did and they did. The time was about 1939 when they started from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. They made it as far as Catalina Island off of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California before Dad realized that the captain of the yacht (The Lorna D) didn't have any money and wouldn't have any money for the journey. So, Dad realized that they needed more money for the trip. So, he and his brother jumped on a freight train to save money to Seattle where they could work some more as electricians for a month or so with my father's Dad's Electrical Contracting business there to save enough money to go to Tahiti for a couple of years. By the way this was a very different time than now. There was no plane service at all to Tahiti at that time and no electricity there much and most of the locals believed in ghosts and spirits and Dad could rent a house for $2.50 a month. So basically for under 3 bucks a month you could rent a place with all the fruit you could eat like bananas and papayas growing all around your house then.
So, while riding the old steam trains north to Seattle Dad got a cinder in his eye which burned his cornea a little, so I had to stop at a town and go to an eye doctor and get a temporary patch for his eye along the way. After working as electricians for a month or two they returned to his wife and the Lorna D in Long Beach I believe and sailed first to Catalina Island then in 1939 and then through 40 days of open sea without ever seeing land to Tahiti. They stayed in Tahiti and the surrounding area about 1 year but also during this time world war II got going and they realized that likely the war was going to move also into the Pacific Ocean as well. My Dad brought 16mm movies back from this time and my mother converted them to VHS after he passed on. And since then I have converted the VHS to DVD's so I still have most of the footage from that trip in 1939 still. There is footage of a what I think was a Bastille Day celebration (because Tahiti was a French colony then and now I believe). Though I have never been to Tahiti myself in this lifetime I have lived in Hawaii on the Big Island in Hilo and on Maui in Hana and Paia which is a somewhat similar climate to Tahiti. I personally cannot imagine sailing for 40 days and nights straight to reach Tahiti on a boat under 100 feet in length with 6 or 7 people on board, but that's just me. I found sailing to Catalina onerous and I have done that more than once and it is only 6 to 12 hours under sail depending upon the sailboat (much shorter by powerboat). Since it is only about 26 miles off the coast of California you can reach Catalina within an hour if you are traveling 30 mph or more under the right ocean conditions. In fact, recently from the Newport Harbor and out to sea on my cousin's Cal 25 sailboat we watched 2 jet skis with 2 people on one and 1 on the other jet out to Catalina at about 30 mph. However, I wouldn't want to be doing that myself either because what happens if one jet ski conks out during that 26 mile journey. Also, a jet ski is a pretty rough ride over the ocean almost any day. I have rented jet skis in Santa Barbara before and the ocean conditions have to be just right for me to be happy at 30 mph on one in the open ocean. And even then I prefer to have a family member on a second jet ski in case someone falls off. (I and my wife fell off of a jet ski on Lake Tahoe and luckily a family member on another jet ski helped us back on because she is 56 and I am 63).
Anyway, as the Pacific War started to progress especially with Japan in China Dad and his wife and brother realized they needed to find a way back home. So, they purchased passage on a steamship that carried some passengers as well from Tahiti to Hawaii. They spent a few weeks in Hawaii until Dad and his brother's father sent enough money for them to return to Seattle to work for their Dad in his Electrical Contracting Business there. It was now about 1940 or early 1941. Tommy, Dad's brother was a very intuitive and incredible plane pilot and so he became a military test pilot (even though the family was told he died in his own private plane) what actually became of him is something I tried to write about in "Uncle Tommy travels time". It turns out my cousin has a certificate from the Military that Tommy was a military test pilot in 1942 that he got from his mother (Tommy's sister) when she passed on.
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