My name isn't Callie. I know, you're thinking, what else has she lied to me about? Is she even a merchant mariner's wife? Does she even know Big Daddy Mitchell? Does she really sleep next to a huge pile of clean clothes when her mariner's gone?
Most definitely, that's my favorite part of his leaving next to not having to shave the gams.
First of all, and most importantly, Callie is actually Beady's grandmother. A woman still very much amongst the living, 86 years of age, and dwelling in the house her husband built so many years ago on a beautiful piece of land in Northern Maine. Yes, this is the person whose name I borrowed/hijacked/acquired to begin this journey and for a very simple reason...but I'll get to that later as I thought you might like to know a little bit more about her.
Some family members describe her as independent, tough, and loyal whereas I would refer you to Webster's Dictionary for such words as cantankerous, stubborn, brazen, mischievous, determined, and sometimes guarded. I'd also like to use the word strong, but it's so generic, so ubiquitous, and she is anything but. So indulge me and imagine if you will the word 'strong' but as reflective in the highest sense of its meaning, nothing plain about it, okay? And here's a little example of why.
She's beat back lymphoma, yes, beat it back. She's survived a heart attack, undergone quadruple bypass surgery and the many hospital stays that come along with such an "adventure." She manages A-Fib off and on and has withstood the death of her husband after nearly forty years of marriage. She has three rotten children ( I sure hope they're reading this!), seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren with one more on the way, and many, many more if you count extended family little ones.
Labs are Callie's dog of choice, don't argue with her about it. Cutty Sark is what she drinks. The End. Bowling is what she does as often as possible and mowing the lawn for five hours at a time when Satan himself would deem it hot is just one of her many quirks.
The two of us have had a somewhat "interesting" relationship over these last ten years. To be more specific, a relationship in which one throws and receives snarky comments, not so subtle insults, and veiled threats of a slightly violent nature depending on your perspective. Why? I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with just how much alike we are despite our monumental difference in height.
|This is the pic I gave her to commemorate the day.|
No matter, I think of her often and was not surprised to be doing so on this last trip to San Francisco as it was a place she ventured to at a very young age, early on in her marriage. The reason she kept popping into my head was that I knew San Francisco hadn't been a place she'd been head over heels with. Having followed her husband in his military career out to his latest permanent duty station she was admittedly homesick. Far away from Maine, they were finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet, just very little money, and up to that point hadn't been able to get pregnant.
As Beady and I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, the epitome of SF, I thought about the first time she told me this story. We were alone in her home, everyone else had gone to the movies, and I took the opportunity to learn a little bit more about her life. She was extremely forthcoming ( we always play nicely without an audience) and it was one of the rare occasions that I got a tiny glimpse into what made this woman tick. As she related some of the events and the feelings that went along with it, I saw her as someone not unlike me, a woman very much in love with her husband and very grounded in her family roots.
She eventually made it through this difficult time and, as mentioned before, went on to raise a gigantic family full of spit and vinegar. But after that night with her, I knew where she had come from, the difficulty she had faced, and that life hadn't been so sparkly and fresh for her as one (me) might have earlier thought. It was an eye-opening moment for me and one that has stuck, no matter the ups and downs she and I have gone through since.
Now as to the name of this site, it's simple. Not long into my relationship with Beady, I had the opportunity to visit with Callie at her house. Upon entering, this map is the first thing I saw, actually it's the first thing anyone would see as they arrived.
Callie took me closer to it, she made a point of doing it first actually, and detailed all of the places Beady had been from the time of his graduation at Maine Maritime Academy right up until I'd walked through that door only moments ago. She'd followed his sea career faithfully, had cheered in his triumphs, had worried about him, had loved him endlessly as others came and went, and would continue to love him endlessly regardless of if I came or went! That memory, more than anything else about her, has always stayed with me and I realized loving a mariner isn't exclusive to spouses or significant others. Many friends, and in this case, family, are affected by the comings and goings of a mariner, why would their feelings be any less?
Consequently, her name serves as a constant reminder to me that this project isn't just about wives or girlfriends. It's for everyone...children, sisters, husbands, aunts, grandparents, uncles, cousins, boyfriends, best friends, just anyone who has a merchant mariner in their life. It's even for merchant mariners, too!
So I hope you can forgive me this little white lie as it's for a greater good? I wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been really, really important. Promise I won't lie again, except about my weight.
Copyright 2013 Callie's Mariner