78. Naval Clearance & Not-so Scary Neighbors

Day to day life is running normally, anyway as normal as one’s idea is of that.  My children are growing into their own sense of self and Diana and I are getting to know one another on yet another different level.

Somewhere in the telling of this year 1965, a cousin of mine came over from Fiji, their ship stopping in Los Angeles en route to Great Britain.  She brought her son with her as they were moving to London.  The ship arrived at eight in the morning and would leave at five in the evening sharp.  The very same as in Fiji; remember reading about that?

I went to the docks at San Pedro and picked them up and brought them home to meet my family.  Of course I made them a nice Indian lunch too.  It was a wonderful visit and getting news of the family directly from a close member made it all the more special.  Diana really enjoyed meeting someone from my side.  In the late afternoon we took them back to their ship.

Not too long after seeing my cousin my eldest niece (my brother’s daughter) who was also traveling to London to marry and start her life, stopped here in California and we did the very same with her.  

More current news of home, a loving embrace from a dear one and another one to meet my family; my nieces and nephews were just like little siblings and the smaller ones, like kids to me.

And now to a deeper degree I’m realizing the depth of my longing for the bond of my family back home, especially after those visits.  I began contemplating how I would get back to Fiji for a long overdue visit; how could I do this?

To undertake this journey would involve a good chunk of change and that would be a bit harder to come by now that I’m raising a family.  Then I remembered how my working on the ships got me around well, why not do it that way?

I shared this thought with Diana and she agreed, it was a smashing idea.  Ah but how would I do it from here in America … probably not the same as when I applied in Fiji.  Diana showed her enthusiasm by reaching out on my behalf for information.

She found out it would be necessary to first contact the US NAVY for clearance followed by applying for a union card.  And the union end of things would have to happen up in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Subsequently I’d have to find a ship which would hire me and take me sailing … or some such water adventure!

One day we left our kids with Susan (who was visiting us every weekend anyway) and the two of us drove south to the Naval station in Long Beach.  It would be the Merchant Marines with whom I’d be making application.

In the process I was given paperwork, information and instructions and I was directed to return as soon as possible with a photograph to be used on the US Navy clearance identification card, should I be accepted.  

At home we discussed this option further; what all would it entail and make solid the decision once and for all if it really was a step I should take.

In agreement on the subject we returned to Long Beach with forms filled out and a bit of underlying excitement to go with.  We waited patiently in the reception area.  They called me up.  I was informed I’d receive my security clearance to board any US ship and was handed my United States Naval clearance ID card.  

Wow! with a little extra adrenaline pumping and feeling pretty special, we left there happy and hungry.  We decided to stop for lunch before returning to Santa Monica and our kids.  

C - stawberries & coffee

With that part out of the way, I relaxed and returned to the daily normal routine, that being still going to work at the Santa Ynez Inn up PCH and playing daddy, husband and son-in-law.

A few weeks later we found out our neighbors would be moving out.  An opportune vacancy at the Euclid apartments and right next door in fact at that, the only other apartment.  

It was a spacious 1 bedroom unit.  Diana and I both thought right away to tell Susan about it.  My wife’s little sister Lisa had been wanting to move out to California (she had been recently divorced and was now doing the single mom thing) and so in this convenient and happy news, her mother absolutely wanted it!

I discussed this possibility with the landlady and after a brief moment of thought, she said it was actually a very wonderful idea; she liked the thought of family close and being there for one another.  Delighted we all were.  The landlady told us she’d need 3-4 weeks to prep it after the current tenants moved out.

Everything was quiet on the ship subject but to be sure I was waiting to hear about one going to Fiji especially now that I had the sense of security that would come with Susan living next door.  

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I would be taking this journey to Fiji alone.  For this being the only feasible way to get there, the rest of the family couldn’t go.  Diana really seemed to be quite all right with it all.  She knew how much I missed my family, especially my mother.

And so the days went by as they tend to do; we made sure to take the kids to the park and beach and much as possible and usually followed by ice cream.  If I was at work, the ladies still took the four children to the park.  You know we were all just busy enjoying the lovely southern California weather in between the days of our lives.

The living arrangement with Susan and Lisa next-door worked real well, an added sense of security if you like, especially on those late nights at work that kept me over night at the Inn.  You may recall reading in a previous post that I had access there to a room at the graciousness of the owners.

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74. Really, What Do the Stars Have Planned Next For Us?

I opened the door to see a couple of smiling police officers.  They were there to gather our information to make their incident report.  They informed us we may have to appear in court at some point.

The next day a nicely suited man came to our apartment to talk with us for a bit.  He actually said many sympathetic things including, Somebody was definitely looking out for you and your family.  Diana and myself couldn’t agree more with that statement.  

He also mentioned there had been complaints filed against this man in the past.  He shared it was felt this man wasn’t entirely stable.  The nice young detective also apprised us a little of this man’s past saying, he and his family had pulled up stakes out of the southern U.S. to settle here in California.  

The police would hold him for his hearing in 10 days.  “…looks like he’ll get a couple of years.”  For us it seemed there would be a few quiet days and nights ahead, thank goodness.

We spend one more Christmas at the Pico apartment building when we realised we’d have to make yet another move.  Things generally speaking were pretty good but as the rent increased my salary just wasn’t quite enough, at best it was about $350 monthly.  

Little did I know I was also about to switch jobs.  So I say we were very fortunate to find another nice apartment.  It was comfortable, affordable and closer still to the beach.  In fact we gained an extra bedroom; see how these things work themselves out.  It was on 4th street, west of Lincoln, still in Santa Monica, always in Santa Monica.

This place had a nice living unit on top of the owner’s garage which was divided into two rentable spaces;  a single unit and a family unit.  The owner of the property resided there as well but in the single family dwelling up in the front.

We had the larger of the 2 units and next-door to us was already residing a caucasian man, older than me to be sure but hardly a senior.  

Everything was good as we went about our daily lives; my going to work, the normal mother at home stuff for Diana and going out to the park and beach as often as possible with the kiddos and my wife.  We always enjoyed these outings, the kids loved it as much as we did.

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70. Loving Favour Delivered Into Our Home

Once we were settled into our 20th Street home, the first thing I wanted to have done was get my wife set up with an Obstetrician.  Time to use that excellent insurance I protected and worked for.  We went to this first appointment together.

The doctor we were hooked up with was very patient and kind.  After the initial check-up, a clean bill of health and approximate due date given for the end of May, he provided Diana a prescription for prenatal vitamins along with simple advice.

The doctor also handed her list of sensible nutrition (for what was known to be ‘best’ at the time) for the mother and baby’s most favourable health and the to-dos & the no-dos at the various stages of pregnancy.

I continued working happily at the Hotel Miramar making good money still, that wouldn’t change and Diana was happy, glowing and taking great care of herself and our baby.  I’d come home in the evenings and spend some time talking to the baby, waiting for it to start kicking … one day he did and it was full go after that!  

Hopeful for a sononce again.  

Our joint excitement was mounting tremendously!  Diana had everything ready that she could think of so that our child’s arrival and new life would begin in the greatest comfort and surrounded by all the love in the world.

Ralph and Doris were right here all along helping out.  Now they were also ready to greet and become a part of our child’s life.  Other than my Indian side of the family, we were almost complete. Diana’s mother and sister were still out in the Midwest with definite plans to move out here by the end of the year.

My Diana was a great writer and very good at providing regular, very detailed letters to my family back in Fiji.  She’d tell them everything and I knew they weren’t feeling too left out!

They’d wait patiently and anxiously (if it is possible to do both at the same time) for news from California – just as we’d await news from them.  Their love and support of my new family was very much felt by the both of us.

What a whirlwind of emotions I experienced as the time of arrival drew closer.  Imagine … I’d have sudden thoughts in anticipation, reflections from my previous engagement with fatherhood.  

I told myself this time it would be different; everything about this child’s arrangements (save for me being the father) were different.  I’m older and stronger and living in a country where there’s more modern capabilities. My child will make it!

Spring was upon us, life was good.  The belly was nice and round, solid as a watermelon.  And as May put in an appearance, our little slice of heaven provided what I considered to be the best possible weather, absolutely perfect.  We were averaging upper 60s to low 70’s, oh so comfortable!

Monday, Memorial Day was now upon us, no wind and just the right amount of sun.  The unofficial start of summer decided to give us a present.

We were both at home in this moment; sharp pains, gulp, water breaking!  Diana kept a cool head and picked up the telephone receiver to call the doctor.  After her very quick description of events he ordered her to get going, he’d meet us there.  The cab arrived in an instant and off to Saint John’s Hospital we went. Fortunately it was real close by.

Once admitted, I was directed to the waiting (torture) room.  I was able to make a call into work to be excused for the day.  Anxiously I waited.  And as I sweated it out, my child arrived healthy and perfect.  

I still hadn’t been told of the child’s birth.  As Diana tells me later: she held our child pressed to her breast as the nurses beginning cleaning up.  The baby was measured, checked over, weighed, documented, cleaned and wrapped.  She’s been moved into a room already.

Finally my suspense is relieved by the nurse entering the waiting room to announce the healthy birth of my son!  Thank God. I was led to her room.  I see a swaddled bundle cuddled by Diana.

My heart skipping beats, I approached them and I kissed her.  Diana smiled brilliantly and I asked her how she was feeling.  She said she was doing pretty great all things considered and told me it all seemed to happen rather quick.  Grateful.

I walked around the bed and took a little peek.  I pulled the blanket away a bit to see more of my son and I immediately recognized a precious beautiful child, our son.  I wanted him to know right then and there just how much I will always love him.

I lifted him out of her arms and embraced him in my heart.  I walked around the room with him without any outside thoughts.  I then took a seat in a chair near to her bed and simply absorbed and adored him.  

My heart was reminding me that I really wanted to give this child the name of my son before him.

Prior to getting married I had shared with Diana all that was my life before I knew her.  Especially the moments which included my firstborn son.  However I hadn’t said as much with regard to carrying his name and spirit forward.  I knew she completely understood my heart. ♥️ 

Diana had already been thinking about this on her own too.  In hindsight (there it is once again), she may have saved this thought for the momentous occasion of naming the child should it be a boy.  She quietly observed me as I swooned over my son.

When she saw the happiness in my eyes she made her offer.  “We could name him after your 1st son … would you want that Parma?”  My soul was overcome with fulfillment and pure delight.  Why yes, it’s exactly what I wanted!  What a gift, what a blessing, what a day.

Diana and our son remained in the hospital for 3 days with me visiting everyday of course.  I went back to work and was the happiest man there I’m sure!  My fellow employees and the catering manager all came around to wish me congrats and toasted with a cup of coffee, several handshakes, hugs and slaps on the back!

Ralph and Doris weren’t far behind on their visit to the family’s first grandchild and with lovely flowers for the mother, the abundant baby’s gifts were to come.  

And it started with my son’s first car ride, the ride home in his grandfather’s car.

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I’ve never stopped even to this day, believing that my first son had returned to me and not once was there the doubt of what his name was to be.  My wife was following Catholicism at the time and asked if I wouldn’t mind allowing her the middle name of Saint Stephen for our son. Granted.