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December 8, 1997

Features

Tale of two Watermans

oscar

Photo by Oscar Roloff
   Beneath this forced smile of Paul Waterman there exists sadness for which he unabashedly apologizes. How could one such as myself handle it when asked to write the story?


by Oscar Roloff
   Just before Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Franklin Roosevelt sent word out to the U.S. Asiatic Fleet to get out of nearby Chinese coastal ports. The enemy was beginning to enter the fragile ports. It was a few months later when sailor James Waterman climbed aboard our warship at San Diego. "We were getting ready to shove off when I had to get my beautiful wife aboard a ship and get her to a safe port such as San Diego," he told me while we were standing at the fantail of my "Diego based destroyer, USS Tucker." (slang) Continued the tall, upset sailor, "I managed to smuggle my wife aboard a merchant ship that was in our harbor and destined to shove off that day for San Diego. Happy, I said in a low tone to a friend, 'She'll be gone in two hours and I'll be on my own warship and leave the following morning.'" Somehow, someone had heard sailor James mention that his Chinese-born wife would be leaving, and within an hour she was rudely taken off the vessel. That was the last James ever saw of her.
  
   At San Diego
   As we stood near the 8 six-hundred-pounds-each-depth charge, James looked to shoreside. A tear dropped, and he said, "If only I'd kept my mouth shut,my wife and I would now be living in a nice apartment over on the beach. It's all my fault."
  
   A Woodinville Waterman
   The local Waterman is Paul. I've known him for years. He'd married a splendid wife who used to help him carry his newspapers when they were kids. They grew up, married, and I'd met them many a time at their local home. Was a good marriage, they thought. Paul explained to me what had soon happened to their marriage. "I kept busy day and night, always helping others and taking care of my many land-owned chores. Soon I spent more time away from my wife and home, and our marriage began slipping away." Then Paul's wife developed Alzheimer's Disease, he said, and that made matters worse. Their life togetaher and love was now split asunder. As time passed, she passed on.
  
   As I sit at Paul's table, he tells me of his sorrow, and how he acted toward his wife. "It's all my fault," he related as tales of his negligence toward his loved one poured out. I listened and felt sorrow for him. Paul is very active in the local church and is a Promise Keeper. I can't sit there and scold him for we all make errors in life. I listen. Then leave. Life is so fickle and such doings as Paul's can happen to many. Is there a similarity of the two Watermans as to how they erred? James revealing a secret, a listening enemy soldier in mufti and Paul's failure to keep marriage vows? In what I wrote about Paul, he said, "You write it." I did. He trusts me, knows me. I dislike to criticize others.