107.   Laundry became a priority 🧺

Two days out, prior to approaching California’s coastline, laundry of all things, became a priority.

Our washing facility certainly didn’t resemble a laundromat -size wise- by any means; it looked like the busiest time ever as we each took our turn.  Thankfully it all worked out and blood was not shed on that day. 😁 

Packing my belongings of course included all the acquired souvenirs. In Japan I had purchased an AKAI reel-to-reel stereo system (more on its important use later down the storied road) and a couple of half gallon bottles (1.75ltr) of Johnnie Walker.  I paid just about half the price for these than I would’ve paid in California.

Okay I know, that was then and this is now but oh, how we older folks love to say it anyway, “Remember when you could get a gallon of gas for approximately .35¢?  Or how about picking up a .23¢ loaf of bread and a mere .44¢ for a gallon of milk?” I know, it just sounds better now but if only you could take your current wallet to that place back in time, well …

If you’ve been with me through all this then you already know, most of us were employed through the Union and that meant this assignment was over once we disembarked at the port in Oakland.  

If anyone had intentions of joining another ship -or this one if available, a check-in/re-registration for reassignment was necessary.  That wasn’t me … and considering the way this assignment began?  I had to get my butt home as soon as possible! 

nO matter where I’ve gone in this world, the homecoming -to me- has always been sweeter than where I’d been. I was looking forward to being with my family once again. 

The final dinner I served to my officers.  I asked the Skipper while he was still seated as was the rest of the dining room, if my service in all this time had met their expectancy …his expectation most importantly. 

He said, “Fiji.  It was top-notch!  In fact we all would love to have you continue on with us.”  The room of Officers applauded along with the Captain. I noticed a figure at the door looking in -it was Phil with a big smile on his face, he gave me a thumbs up! and silently moved away.  I remember feeling quite satisfied.

With empty cargo holds, we near-completed our cross Pacific trip in about a week and a half.  A warm feeling washed through me as I observed our approach towards the Golden Gate.  Her lovely bridge provided great happiness; a reassurance, testimony if you will, that I had returned safely to my home in America.

I also knew that once my sea legs touched United States soil, I’d have to rent a car and drive to Los Angeles …to my wife and three children.  

We were all lined up, chatting excitedly while waiting our turn to collect final salaries and sign release papers.  The Union’s responsibility for our welfare was over once I signed my name on the dotted lines.  

My pockets were now loaded with cash – it’s how they always paid us and this morning, all accounts were fully settled.  Pockets full wasn’t something you wanted to make public knowledge (common sense, right?) as we were advised of those lurking about the shipyard with that knowledge. 

I definitely didn’t want to meet any of them!



21. Tamavua Hurricane!

A few weeks later I found a 1 bedroom apartment in Tamavua which was near to my eldest sister’s home.  Still trying to make a ‘go’ of my marriage I shared this news with my wife.  Having the knowledge that it would be just the two of us and possibly other factors -I don’t really know, she actually agreed to move in with me.

Just a couple of weeks into our attempt, our struggle -cannot lie as it was such- another surprise was dished up.  I came in from work one afternoon and Hemma was not at home, as was the normal scene.  Our apartment was trashed and I mean like ransacked!  Clothing, groceries, bedding, papers you name it, strewn all about the place.

I found no note, no dear John letter, no obvious reason for this scene and no, the thought never crossed my mind that she may have been in danger.  We were clearly in a troubled relationship and well, in my gut it was plain that she did this damage herself.  What!?   I’m being honest here about what I felt at the moment; judge if you must.

I understood nothing and I knew even less than that.  Frozen in the corner of the room just looking around, aloud I cried, ‘Oh God!  Why did she do this?’  I thought if she wanted to leave me, just leave!

This takes so much poison and hatred in one’s system to do such a thing, think about it; the energy spent in destruction.  Intense hatred, lack of knowledge and God knows what else it takes to fuel such obliteration.  How much more torment and painful heartache must one endure, I just had to ask myself this question …only repeatedly it seemed.

And in all fairness, at some small point in this time, I realized she’s suffering something of her own heart and mind, right?  I mean massive pain can cause one to do … I still don’t think it’s right to be destructive.

I know, I know we all handle things differently, I get that.  Alas I can only speak for myself and I do know that I didn’t betray her trust.  I must go to the ocean, wash my face and awake myself from this nightmare!

After a while I called my sister, telling her what I came home to.  The family came right away and assisted me with a clean-up.  I packed my things and they took me back to my mother’s home.

At this point my family was ready to go to war with my in-laws.  My mama (elder uncle) came as soon as he could in order to try and calm everyone down; get our heads screwed back on.  We had to be logical in our thoughts and plans.


In retrospect, as I’ve experienced the remaining 64 years of my life, I really do not blame her for some of the behavior she demonstrated.  I saw for myself that there are certain types of parents who do interfere too much, causing confusion for their young children who are just trying to act grown-up within the situations which their parents put them in, in the first place.

Her reactions at that time must’ve been perhaps a defense mechanism for all that her young life had already dished up as she really was still, only a child herself.  I was not so much more grown-up than that.  The one difference I had going on was that I had left Fiji for a while and saw there was more to life than what the eyeball currently saw every morning.