When I was a little girl I had a special connection with my paternal Grandfather, who I called "Poppy." I'm not sure why or when I came up with that nickname, but boy did it stick. In fact, I don't think I've heard him called on by his real name ever since . . . Thomas Timothy Murphy.
My family would most likely tell you we were kindred spirits and my grandmother just adored our "love affair," as she would call it. Our bossy, stubborn spirits were two of a kind and I think Poppy saw his reflections of strength and passion for life within me. We laughed together and played together all the time. I still cannot smell a pipe without seeing his face pop up in my mind like it was yesterday.
My grandfather served in the Navy during World War II on the USS O'Bannon. His war wounds and shrapnel in his leg forced him to walk with a cane for most of his life. During our time spent together, he didn't talk much about the war, but I know the external scars weren't the only ones there. And by the time I was old enough to speak with him about it, his Alzheimer's disease set in too much to dig further than surface level. I loved my grandfather deeply and it broke my heart to see him go in such a way. But even though he lost most of his awareness, our connection remained strong.
The last year of my life was spent in San Diego. The San Diego culture is rooted deeply in military support with the presence of multiple branches and different installations. You can imagine my excitement when we were invited to cruise with the enlisted troops for 3 days from Santa Barbara to San Diego. I immediately thought of my grandfather and felt his spirit all around me. I had a once in a lifetime experience to see the day and life of a Navy Sailor. Since the opportunity is so rare, I wanted to share the experience with all of you!
USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN-76)
Peace Through Strength
SOLANA BEACH TO SANTA BARBARA
PORT OF SANTA BARBARA TO USS RONALD REAGAN
Party on a Ship
Rise & Shine
The Air Show
The Gun Show
Back to Naval Air Station (NAS)
NORTH ISLAND CORONADO, CA
Upon arrival, we drove home on a high. The kind of high one only gets from truly venturing outside of one's comfort zone. I heard my grandfather's favorite song and the radio and everything came full circle. I felt his love all around me, once again.
A special thanks to our dear friend, Colin Smith, and the US Navy for this once in a lifetime experience!