Growing up in the Navy, you sometimes lose friends when your father receives orders to a new duty station, or their's does. You swear you'll write and they do, too, but little by little the correspondence dwindles and you move on.
Sometimes you find them again at a different duty station at a different time in your life. My friend Annie and I were great pals when we were 13 years old at Norfolk Naval Air Station in Virginia and we renewed our close friendship in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii about 10 years later. We've kept in touch ever since, sharing divorce woes and wedding joys, long letters between visits back and forth, pictures of our grandchildren and almost daily emails now that the internet has made staying in touch so easy.
One of our happiest Navy connections has been with a Michigan family we met when I was an infant; our fathers were test pilots together shortly after WWII. Although they left the Navy after several years, we kept an ongoing family friendship that continues to this day. My Dad and theirs loved and respected each other like brothers, or maybe even better than brothers - theirs was a cooperative rather than a competitive friendship. Our mothers also were close pals; fueled with martinis and good will, they picked up the late-night discussions and giggle fests as if they had never been apart. Their kids were roughly our ages and we got along well, too. We children would fall asleep to the lullaby of our parents' voices down in the living room, talking, talking into the wee hours. Whenever we lived somewhere interesting such as Newfoundland, they would visit us; if our duty station was more mundane, like Omaha, we'd spend part of the summer with them in Michigan. When your home base changes every two years or so, it's a pleasure to have a place to ground you - for me, their house in Michigan was that place.
When I lived in Western New York, their daughter Wenirs lived just a short day's drive away across Canada, so we became fast friends, sharing Thanksgivings, Christmases and Easters. When she and her husband started a family, I was the children's official Fairy Godmother, still my most cherished role although the children are now young adults.
And, every now and then, a box of goodies arrives from Michigan with my name on it. In the latest one there were all kinds of prezzies from silly mugs to goofy jewelry and, for the kitchen, this reminder of all the fun we have in Michigan. They live down by the cuff and they have a summer cottage up in the mitt about where the pinkie finger would rest - I've spent happy times in both locations. Each time I use this oven mitt, I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have kept my good Navy friends over the years, even at my current duty station in California.
Labels: Davenport, Michigan, Navy