Monday, August 2, 2010

History Lessons

K and I recently saw the Tall Ships exhibit as they passed through on their yearly tour. We went on about 4-5 ships and even were able to go below deck on two of them. They were very neat. I thought they would be bigger, especially considering how many sailors worked and lived on each ship. Below deck the ceiling was only 5’6’’ so I really had to duck down when we walked around down there. The “living” area below deck was so cramped that sailors were sleeping in hammocks only 15 inches apart. I couldn’t believe when I read that these ships were used at a time when bathing was considered bad luck. Therefore no one on the ship would bathe for the entire 7-9 months they were at sea.

I also couldn’t help but think about their families left back home for those 7-9 months. I immediately related their separation to my separation from my husband when he was deployed. But then I thought, maybe it wasn’t as much the same as I originally thought. I think I just might have it easier.

When those sailors were gone there was no such thing as Skype, webcams, instant message, email and phones to keep in touch. They didn’t even have cameras to take pictures of each other as a memento during the long times spent apart. They couldn’t even right letters to each other. It was hard enough for me to not hear from my husband for an entire month at one point during his deployment, but to go 9 months without a single word from him would be too much. Most of us get a little reprieve (a year or more) in between deployments, these sailors get just 3-5 months and they’re gone again.

And if something were to happen while he was at sea, no one would know until their return date had long since passed and you are only left to assume they sank somewhere in the ocean. There is no life insurance, social security, survivors benefits, etc to rely on for income. Unless you have family who can take you in, you are now the sole provider for your family. What are your choices in the 17th & 18th century?

These women possessed great strength and I hope I can remember that each time my Soldier leaves me for the call of his country. It takes a special kind of woman to spend most of your life waiting for the one you love.

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