Nine ungodly long weeks have passed since I last saw Popeye. He was swearing an oath to protect our nation at our local MEPS. Now, He’s graduating as a full fledged member of the fleet! What a wild ride it was to get here.
The whole of bootcamp I was worried that despite Popeye’s best efforts, he would fail and come home. Each week I had to psych myself up and make sure my support was where he needed it to be. No matter what happened I wanted him to know that by trying he had done his duty. By trying he was a hero of this nation. Each fear and worry that he conveyed in a letter left me heartsick and even more determined to cheer him through it. Then the call came. The “I’m a sailor!” call (which went more like this, “Well, I’m not a recruit anymore.” ), my spirits soared! He did it! All was well in the fleet, but not everything was so shored up at home. The phrase “come hell or high water” completely applied.
Hell came to pass with over a month long struggle to attain leave for the occasion. I was turned down on my first request. I placed my vacation request on my supervisors desk one month prior to graduation. I had plenty of vacation and the schedule was not made out yet. There was no reason for the denial. I wasn’t about to accept defeat. Popeye worked hard to earn that right and I was going to be there for him. I somehow, someway was going to get there. It only took a week of persistent effort and a trip to my boss’ boss to get the time off. Unfortunately, that left me clear open for retaliation. I was overloaded and stuck with the most undesirable jobs for the next 2 weeks. Yet, I told myself I would do anything for Popeye.
Following the hell at work came hell from home. My father had promised to rent me a car because mine was deemed too hazardous to make it to Illinois. He wrote me a check, then went gambling. Needless to say he blew more money at the casino than he had in his account. The quick use of an ATM was faster than a cashed check- so it bounced. I was devastated. I broke down. After fighting for it, going to see Popeye in his moment of glory seemed impossible. At the last moment a family friend luckily stepped in and loaned my father the money to pay for the rental car. Everything started to fall back into place, until the storms started.
Each summer we get storms. They come, drop an inch or two of rain and move on. Sometimes we get sever weather. Most times it’s not so bad. These storms though were of another caliber. We got 8 inches of rain in a 24 hour period, followed by a few days of 5+ inches of rain. The bridge washed out. Flood waters rose. The water reached 2 feet below cutting the whole town completely off. Up north roads were gone and sink holes popped up. The zoo even flooded! Actual seals (the animal- not the navy) were found roaming around the streets! It was insane and it was less than 2 weeks before graduation. Yet, as before everything barely cleared up in time and I was on my way.
A seven and a half hour drive later, I ended up in Waukegan, IL. My hotel- the motel 6- was in the most ghetto area they had (but hey $52 a night, it was clean, and I wasn’t staying long). I attended Sarge’s meet and greet and then rose early to meet Popeye’s parents for graduation. In Illinois, nothing went wrong (Okay, so Popeye lost his raincoat at PIR-but his shipmates returned it to the ship). It was pure bliss.